10 Fun Indoor Games to Play With Your Pet
Keeping your pet entertained can be a great way to help keep them happy, while also giving them an opportunity to exercise. When the weather prevents you from getting outside with your furry friend, try some engaging indoor alternatives to help drive away your pet’s boredom on cold or rainy days.
Tip #1: Create a Pet Playground
Let your trash be your pet’s treasure. After holiday or birthday celebrations are over, put gift boxes to good use before tossing them in the wastebasket. Use discarded cardboard boxes to set up an indoor playground for your cat or dog to enjoy. Those empty boxes also provide them with a comfortable hiding space or a quiet refuge.
Tip #2: Play a Fun Version of Hide-and-Seek
Many dogs are motivated by food. Play an alternate version of hide-and-seek that will have your canine companion following its nose to a tasty reward. Start by showing your dog a pet treat and asking him or her to stay. Hide those snacks in various places around the house, and then release the hound (or terrier, or whatever breed it may be). It’s likely your pup will follow your trail to seek and find a few treats along the way.1
Tip #3: Teach Your Dog a New Trick
Old or young, your dog likely has the intelligence to learn new tricks. It takes time, patience and repetition, but you can teach your dog by simulating a new trick while saying or motioning an associated command. If shaking hands is the goal, gently tap the lower back of your dog’s leg, and place its paw in your hand, using a treat as motivation.2
Tip #4: Train Your Cat to Wave or Shake Hands
Yes, it’s possible to train a cat! Cats are intelligent animals and you can teach a friendly feline to wave or shake hands by having them bat at a toy while reinforcing the act with a verbal or physical command. Throw in a treat for added incentive. After many repetitions, your cat will have a surprising greeting for friends and family.
Tip #5: Play a Game of Fetch
A good old-fashioned game of fetch is one of the simplest forms of pet playtime and an activity you and your pet can engage in indoors as well as outside. Grab a ball or a favorite toy and gently toss it into another room. Your dog or cat will hopefully retrieve the item; however, the tricky part may be getting it from them in return. One tip would be to use a treat as a stimulus and you’ll accomplish two objectives at once: having your cat or dog return the toy and also letting go of it. Make sure the path out and back to you is open and clear of any furniture that a pet may collide with.3
Tip #6: Make Interactive Cat Toys More Enticing for Your Frisky Feline
It’s disappointing to buy your pet a toy only to have them ignore it. Cats, in particular, can be finicky when it comes to toys. But perhaps your kitty just needs a little encouragement. Try waving the toys about or placing them in and out of the cat’s field of vision. Either motion may nudge your cat’s prey instinct and spur your feline friend to investigate further to play with the toys.
Tip #7: Use a Treat as a Lure to Start a Game of Chase
It’s usually not too difficult to get your pup to follow you around the house, but sometimes cold, murky weather can make them disinterested. Food is one surefire way to get your dog up and following you for a playful game of chase. Keep a biscuit in hand within eyeshot of your dog. Typically, they won’t give up the game until you surrender the bounty.
Tip #8: Initiate a Tug-of-War Challenge with Your Dog
Few canine pals can resist a good tug-of-war match. There are toys specifically designed for this purpose, but some common household items will do nicely as a substitute. Consider using an old article of clothing or towel tied in knots. This can help both you and your dog to get a good grip and engage in more spirited play. This game also presents an opportunity to teach good manners by training your dog to relinquish the makeshift rope.4
Tip #9: Give Old Newspaper a Second Life as a Cat Toy
Many cats take an interest in the most common things (as noted by pet parents after finding their feline friends nestled inside an open cardboard box from a recent delivery). Before tossing old newspaper into the recycling bin, consider using it to entertain your cat. It’s light enough so that a crumpled-up piece can be batted around the house safely. Once your cat is drawn in to playing with it, you might even see your pet pounce on it as they would a toy mouse. Newspaper ink is typically non-toxic but keep an eye on your pet during playtime to minimize any transfer of the substance to your cat’s paws or mouth area.
Tip #10: Set Up an Indoor Obstacle Course for Your Pet
You’d undoubtedly jump through hoops for your dog, and your pet can do the same for you. It just takes a little enticement. Creating an indoor obstacle course is a great way to help keep your pet nimble and fit. You can deploy small cones as boundaries and long, empty boxes as tunnels in a larger area of your home where they may have a free stretch to run (like a hallway, entryway or mudroom). Use a treat to help guide your dog through the maze. And yes – you can include hoops in the mix if you have the proper space and clearance inside your home or pet playroom.5
When you’re done playing, enjoy a nice long and loving cuddle on the couch. That’s a great way to beat those cabin fever blues. Ultimately, fun and games can help to keep your pet healthy, happy and alert. Activities like these also may help avoid unwanted trip to the vet’s office. Yet, when those trips are necessary, pet insurance can help relieve some of the financial burden.
Want to help defray the cost of vet bills? Learn more about pet insurance.
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