How to Entertain Your Pets During Quarantine

27 April, 2020
Right now, it's important for everyone to stay home and stay safe. But that doesn't mean we can't do something to have fun with our four-legged friends. Today, we'll talk about how to entertain your pets during quarantine.

How to entertain your pets during quarantine

The days we spend indoors during quarantine can be a good time to improve the environmental enrichment of our pets. 

Enrichment refers to any action that modifies, adapts, or creates an environment where animals can express the natural behavior particular to their species.

It’s important that, even when we need to spend most of our time indoors, animals can develop the behaviors that are natural to their species. This helps them maintain their physical and mental well-being.

With the help of very simple games, activities, and objects, we can facilitate these behaviors. And while we’re at it, we can also entertain our animals in a way that’s enjoyable for them. We’ll suggest several options in the paragraphs to follow.

1. Smelling games for dogs

Dogs have the ability to detect scents that are kilometers away. This is thanks to their more than 220 million olfactory cells. Smelling is essential to dogs. In fact, over 50% of a dog’s brain is dedicated to its sense of smell. Therefore, smelling is fundamental to proper canine mental development.

You can stimulate your pup’s sense of smell at home by hiding bunches of food under mats and in toys. Or simply wrap some food in rags or old clothing you have around the house. This activity will also help to reduce your dog’s anxiety and voracity for food, as eating will require more time and effort.

The sense of smell in dogs.

2. Hunting games for cats

Awaken your cats hunting instincts with toys, strings, feather dusters, etc., in order to imitate small prey. This game is a way to increase your bond with your pet for a while, but that’s not all. It also promotes physical activity and helps to prevent obesity, which is a common problem in domestic cats.

You can also throw balls of crumpled up paper or pieces of food for your cat to hunt and trap. It’s important to give your feline some time to get used to the game.

A cat hunting.

3. Have you ever tried using catnip?

Nepeta cataria, more commonly known as catnip, is a very attractive herb for felines. It releases nepetalactone, a volatile substance that most cats (between 50 and 70% of domestic felines) are sensitive to.

Cats that are sensitive to this herb may rub their bodies and heads against it. Or, they may jump, roll around, meow, chew on it and salivate. Afterward, they will become euphoric and excited. The effects usually last for about 15 minutes.

You can buy catnip in many different formats or even grow it yourself at home. It’s easy to find at certain supermarkets, or else you can purchase it online. If you grow it yourself, it takes a few days to grow. You can offer it to your cat as it is, or else put it inside your pet’s toys. At the same time, you can create a spray with itJust spray it on beds and scratching posts to make them more interesting.

A cat playing with catnip.

4. Play hide and go seek

A game as simple as hide and go seek can be the perfect solution if you and your pet are bored. Have your dog or cat stay still, if possible. In the meantime, hide somewhere and then shout out the order, “seek”!

This may take some practice at first, but it’s a good game to practice commands. What’s more, it may be useful once quarantine is over so you can take your dog to the part without its leash.

A dog paying attention.

5. Make homemade games

There are many objects in your home that you can put to use to entertain your pets. This is true whether you have dogs, cats, rabbits, or rodents. For example, cardboard tubes and boxes, empty plastic bottles, balls of paper… These are all great options for hiding food or prizes.

But remember to be careful. Always make sure the materials you use are safe for your pet. Also, you’ll need to supervise the activity to make sure your pet doesn’t start to gnaw or chew on whatever object you’ve decided to use as a hiding spot.

Cats playing with toilet paper rolls.
Source: doodlecats.com

Entertaining your pets during quarantine is good for you too

Entertaining your pets during quarantine with games and activities doesn’t just help the time go by faster. It also helps to improve your relationship with your pet and to understand them better. That way, you can better empathize with animals in general, both domestic and otherwise.

One final note. It’s not a good idea to give your pet toilet paper to play with if you’re going to put it in your bathroom to use later. First of all, because it’s a waste of good toilet paper, but also because the paper will get dirty.

Even if you’ve mopped your floors this morning, it’s not a good idea to play with toilet paper around your house… whether the activity involves pets or not. You’re better off waiting until you have an empty roll and using that for your games.