Sunday Funday for Everyone!

She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring. ― Zelda Fitzgerald

conscious companion
I AM BORED! Give me something FUN to do, mom!

What are you up to this Sunday afternoon?  We are experiencing record heat temps and orange air alerts here in our nation’s capital, so we are laying low today.

When I want to lay low, the animals in our home often have other plans, so I have to be prepared. 

Our dog and cats get bored easily. They also have a lot of energy, despite their ages, so, If I want to relax, and not worry about them resorting to attention seeking behaviors, I need to invest my time in providing plenty of mental and physical exercise for them throughout the day.

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Albert, the senior cat, enjoying a few minutes outside with me to stretch his muscles and help his arthritis.

Often Hocus and I go for adventures in the forest near our home, or I take the cats on a “walkabout” around the perimeter of our house.  These activities allow us to get out of the house, have individual time together, and maintain our powerful bond. They also come with an added bonus: They are all happily content and healthfully tired afterward.

dog parks_Conscious Companion_off leash dog
Adventuring “off-road” in the forest near our house

However, when the weather isn’t safe or comfortable to venture out in, I have to provide plenty of mental and physical enrichment activities inside. This is where I get creative. 

Give Them a Job. 

There are way too many “unemployed” dogs in homes all around the world. Unemployed dogs get into trouble.  Dogs need to be doing something positive and fun (with you) to occupy their time, to channel their energy, and to stay mentally and physically healthy.  One of the ways that we give our dog a job to do is by having Hocus forage for treats!  This helps to mentally challenge her, and to also channel her energy into something positive.  Rather than just offering a special treat like a pig ear, trachea, or bully stick, she has to work for it!

How We Do This

I gather a few safe, nontoxic, cardboard and paper recycling  items and get to work.  It only takes me a couple minutes to hide the treat, but the time it takes her to work for the treat is time well spent! You can see the video here.

By the time she’s finished, she’s ready for a short nap, and I can have some down time for myself!

The result is Life with my animal companion, improved.


So the next time your pets are driving you nuts, think about how you can help them, (and yourself).

What can you create that’s safe, fun, and mentally challenging?

Need some more ideas? Check out the links below.

Boredom comes from a boring mind. ― Metallica


Related Links

DIY Puzzle Feeder for Dogs

Enrichment Activities for Cats

Sunday Night Kong Stuffing!

Bone Stuffing: Egg Salad Jamboree!

Boredom Busters!

boredom busters

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!

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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.

 

paw print

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!