Rainy days and Mondays don’t have to get them down! There is always something that we can do as pet guardians to help our animals when they are bored, frightened, or frustrated.
There is a very popular homemade game that dog guardians have been playing with their dogs for years, and now you get to play along too!
Here is what you need to do: Get a 6 muffin tin and put their favorite treat or food in each cup. Place tennis balls in about half the cups. Once the animal sniffs out the uncovered treats, s/he usually figures out that removing the tennis balls reveals more tasty goodies. This game uses at least two of an animal’s senses – sight and smell – and it’s mentally challenging!
Watch these dogs learn how the game works in the videos below.
NOTE: This game was created for dogs of all ages (puppies, adult dogs, and even geriatric dogs!), but it can be modified for ferrets, horses, cats, pigs and parrots!
Once the animal gets the idea and is performing well at the game, you can start hiding treats under only some of the tennis balls, and use a 12 muffin or 24 muffin tin. Increase the difficulty to keep their brains working!
A bonus to this homemade game is that it’s also great for helping shy animals to increase their confidence. It can also help distract an animal to focus on something exciting and fun when you leave the house, or if they are afraid of storms, or new guests in your home. It is also a great tool for shelter animals in kennels. This is a great tool to help alleviate boredom. This game also helps them to practicing their hunting or foraging skills, while increasing the bond between you and your animal companion!
Game Tip: If your pet is shy, confused, or uninterested, be sure to encourage him/her as they approach the tin. Make it a huge success each time they discover the hidden treat! Be their biggest fan when they succeed!
Safety Tip: If your animal starts to toss the tin around, you can try a nonslip mat or attach the muffin tin to a large piece of plywood to anchor it.
Toy Dog Tip: If you have a very small dog, use tiny tennis balls or golf balls.
Kitty Tip: Most cats will play the game for their regular food, and even fresh catnip! Use ping pong balls or golf balls.
Parrot Tip: Use walnuts, pecans, or other assorted nuts that they rarely have access to. They will quickly learn to love this game!
Ferret Tip: Use their regular diet, or for a special treat use cooked egg whites, cooked yolks, or dried muscle/organ meat.
Smart Cookie Tip: If your pet’s intelligence level is anything like our critters’, this game will be over fairly quickly. One way to extend the game is to ask your pet to “wait” while you hide the tray in another room, then have him/her “Find It!”.
What kind of boredom buster games do you play with your animals at home? Please share with us!