Socialization and Mental Enrichment is important for every dog of every breed at every age. Breed characteristics also play a role in our engagement with them as owners and pet sitters. Understanding the need of the breed, coupled with positive environmental and social experiences promotes a deeper bond with our companion animals.
Youngsters (puppies up to 3 years of age) have high energy levels and require a little owner ingenuity to keep them entertained, in addition to daily walks and public outings. Younglings left home alone might “act up”, not out of spite yet potentially out of boredom, frustration, loneliness or anxiety.
We have a few entertainment ideas to share with you and your clients. You can employ these exercises with your furry clients during a home visit or overnight stay. Our Cheap & Easy “Boredom Buster” ideas are employable either indoors or outside.
Hint: You might also want to share these ideas with your clients to show them how much you care about their pet’s daily enjoyment. As a professional pet sitter, we hope you employ these and other creative techniques to set you apart from the pack and have fun in the process.
10 Cheap & Easy “Boredom Busters” for Dogs and Cats of all ages!
(1). Box Puzzles: Just a few empty cardboard boxes stacked on each other or scattered on the floor to satisfy canine (or cat) curiosity. Hide a few treats in the corners and point the way to get their noses started on “scent” work.
(2). Cereal Box Puzzle: For this one, fill an empty cereal box with treats and tape it shut so your dog has to get creatively destructive to get the prize.
(3). Treasure Hunt Game: Hide a few Kong-stuffed toys throughout the house for more scent work and mental enrichment. Start with obvious, easy-to-find places then increase the challenge by hiding them behind couches and chairs. Show your dog the treat toy first, put it on the floor and say “find it!” Once he eats it up, say “good boy”. After the first few times of reinforcing this cue word, hide them (when they’re not looking) and tell them to “find it!” Always reward with “good dog” after a successful hunt.
(4). Plastic Bowl Hunt Game: Don’t have a Kong? Place a treat under a plastic bowl. See how long it takes for your dog to turn the bowl over to get the treat beneath. Any small plastic bowl will work, such as an empty cottage cheese or medium-sized yogurt container. Show your dog what you are hiding under the bowl, so they know what they’re hunting for.
(5). Muffin Tin Game: Using a muffin tin tray, hide treats at the bottom of each “hole” then place tennis balls on top of each. Your dog has to move the balls out of the way to find the treat. To vary the game once mastered, only put treats in some of the holes, yet cover all of them with the balls. See how long it takes to figure out that not every hole has a treasure inside.
(6). Bubble Chase: Using the same bottle of bubble solution and plastic “blower” we had as kids, the same can be done for both dog and cat entertainment. Make sure they only chase the bubbles and don’t try to eat them! Aim high!
7). T-Shirt or Sock-Wrapped Water Bottle: This is the easiest to make! Tie an old t-shirt or sock over an empty water bottle (remove the lid). The crinkly sound of the bottle sounds just like a squeaker toy yet a lot less expensive.
(8). Pupsicles: Using an ice-cube tray, fill with chicken broth, freeze and serve outside for a tasty treat. If you have high-value treats on hand, drop them into each cube before freezing.
(9). Easter Egg Hunt: This can be done year round. Fill colorful (plastic) Easter eggs with high-value treats and hide them in the backyard for a special hunt.
(10). Hula Hoop Jumps: Just a simple Hula Hoop that you hold while you encourage your dog to jump through the hoop. Raise it a notch as he masters this skill. For grins, wrap it around your own waist and see how long you can keep it spinning!
Have fun and let us know how these techniques worked for you and your furry charges.
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