Great brain games to play with your pet

By Valdette Muller| April 15, 2015 | Blog

Dog-Reading-bookInteractive brain games create an opportunity for pet and owner to socialise while encouraging healthy intellectual stimulation for the pet at the same time. For kittens and puppies, play is essential for development and throughout your pets’ lives, play is a pleasurable part of domestic life that helps to curb unwanted behaviour.

The possibilities are endless – from playing fetch, to tug of war and hide and seek. Here are some of our favourite mentally stimulating games for pets.

The muffin tin game. A simple and affordable brain game for both cats and dogs is a DIY muffin tin game. Simply hide kibble or tiny treats in a muffin tin and place tennis ball-sized balls or other light objects on top of the food. Your pet then must work out how to remove the balls and reach the treats. It’s a great beginner’s game – for both pets and owners – that can be played at any time.

Explore strange spaces. Curiosity doesn’t really kill the cat. Put out a few objects for your cat to explore – cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, paper ribbons, empty suitcases and toys to encourage your cat to investigate the different spaces with her paws and jump inside.

Hide the treats. Scatter a few cardboard boxes around a room and place treats in a few of them. Tell your dog to go and search for the treats and praise him when he is successful. Your pooch will soon learn how the game works and enjoy playing it tremendously. You can increase the level of difficulty by loosely closing the boxes and letting your dog find ways to get inside them. You can also hide the boxes around the room to make it even more challenging.

Drop it! If your dog understands the command to drop a toy, you can play this game. Start by giving him one toy and show him a basket in which to drop the toy by using one command, like “tidy up”. Use rewards and praise to teach him the basics and as he masters the concept you can start using more than one toy at a time. In no time, Fido will start searching all the rooms in the house for toys to drop in the basket whenever you say “tidy up”. Of course, he’ll want a delicious reward for his hard work, so keep something yummy on hand.

Golden_Retriever_with_tennis_ballMastering this game will take time, so remember that the journey is all part of the game and patience is essential.

Toy prey. Entertain your cat and stimulate her senses by dropping a small lightweight ball—like a ping-pong ball or ball of scrunched up foil—into a cardboard box, laundry basket or plastic storage tub. Make sure your cat sees you dropping it and encourage her to jump in and chase the “prey” that’s trapped in the contained space.

Shine your light on it. This game never gets old for puppies and cats of all ages. Shine a flashlight or laser light on the floor in front of your pet and move the stream of light around erratically. Point the beam to the floor, the walls, and turn it off completely at intervals. Allow you friend to “catch” the light occasionally to keep them interested.

Try to spend 15 minutes a day together to keep your furry friend mentally sharp for life. We guarantee you’ll enjoy the time together just as much as they do.

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