With most of us stuck at home and home-schooling over for term 1 it’s time to have some fun with your pets! Here’s 10 things to do with them over the coming weeks without having to leave the house!
- Download the “My Talking Pet” App. It’s free and it’s hilarious. Using a picture of your pet and your voice recording it creates a video of your pet talking. So much fun and will have the whole family in stitches.
- Teach them a new trick! I recommend high-five, “speak” or roll-over. Both cats and dogs can learn these! Remember to use lots of positive reinforcement with their favourite treats and practice a few times a day.
- Make an obstacle course through the house or backyard. Make them jump, crawl, balance or run and reward them if they get it right. Time them and see if they can beat their original time!
- Bake with them. Funny enough most pets are excellent taste-testers and most willing to help in the kitchen (especially licking the bowl). I recommend Peanut Butter Bacon biscuits for dogs & Tuna & Cheddar biscuits for cats. Make sure if they are eating a few you reduce their daily meals accordingly.
- Play hide and seek! Whilst your pet isn’t looking (or if you can make them sit & stay) find a good hiding spot. Then call them and see if they can find you! If you start the game by saying “let’s play hide and seek!”, use the same cue for searching (e.g. “ok find me!”) every time and reward them with a treat when they find you they will soon look forward to their hide and seek game and know what to do!
- Talk to your kids about dog safety and how to act around dogs and cats. Some great pointers here that will help keep your kids safe and teach them to respect their pets.
- Have a snuggle session. There is no better time than to relax with your pet. Lie with them and massage their favourite spots. Give them cheek rubs, massage behind their ears or rub their bellies. Enjoy a few peaceful moments together.
- Send them to the home-salon! Give them a bath, clip their nails (here’s how), clean out their ears and trim their hair if needed. If you haven’t groomed them yourself before we suggest using clippers rather than scissors as it’s much safer. Who knows, you may even come up with a new wonderful hairdo for them! Brushing can also be fantastic for rejuvenating coats and most pets love a good brush.
- Deep-clean their bed. It’s a good time to soak their bed and wash it thoroughly. You may even want to D.I.Y. a new bed using boxes or materials around the house. Get it nice and snug ready for Winter.
- D.I.Y. a climbing area for your cat. This might be inside or outside. There are tonnes of fantastic ideas for this on Pinterest. Create that enclosed outdoor area you’ve been meaning to do for months. Build a high shelf or frame so that your cat can escape your dog occasionally. Now is the time to get creative!
- Give them a health check. There are some very simple things you can do at home to keep an eye on your pet’s health:
- Feel their coat over and check if it’s dry or greasy. Make sure they have no knots of a hair build up in front of their eyes or under their ears.
- Check their nails – make sure they aren’t too long, aren’t ripped and appear healthy.
- Check their skin over for lumps or bumps.
- Test their vision – see if they can follow a falling cotton ball or navigate a few obstacles placed in their path.
- Test their hearing – make noises whilst they are asleep or not looking from different angles/sides.
- Check their teeth (if you can safely) – look for red gums, discoloured or broken teeth and bad breath.
- Monitor how they walk. Are they comfortably able to walk, run, climb and jump? Do they appear lame on any legs? Are they getting stiff and struggling?
- Play Vets! If you’ve got kids create an imaginary vet hospital in your house. Get the kids to draw x-rays and make syringes, a thermometer and stethoscope out of recycled material. If your pet is amenable pretend to take them in for a consult and let your kid be the vet! Hint – the sillier the ailment, the more fun your kids will have. I recommend consults such as “my dog ate my underpants,” “my cat is doing stinky farts,” or “my bird is hopping like a pirate.”
- Make your dog a digging pit! If you’re sick of them digging in the garden, create a specific spot for them to go wild! Use a clam shell, dedicate a corner or a garden bed or build a simple square frame and fill it with dirt or sand. Hide toys and treats in there to encourage them to dig. If you don’t mind them getting dirty, use water to turn it into mud!
Dr Prue Honson
Hospital Director & Senior Veterinarian