Ways to Keep Your Pet Engaged & Enriched During Lockdown

While we’re months into the global pandemic, it’s still not clear that our days in lockdown are over. So it’s time to consider our beloved pets, whose normal activities have definitely changed, maybe even more than ours, due to a restricted daily schedule.

With a pinch of creativity, a positive attitude, and a few tricks, you can help your pet go through these tough times as effortlessly and anxious-free as possible, and maybe adopt some new ideas even after the end of the pandemic.

Give your pet some healthy alone time

Cat and dog owners know how important it is to let their pets have some private space. With all the family members spending a lot of time at home, our furry friends are facing a major change in their normal daily routine. In fact, you may have noticed your cat pacing nervously, hiding behind furniture, or isolating in dark nooks. It may be that the kitty just needs some alone time to recharge and rest.

If you have the space and means, create a cozy sanctuary in a separate room or corner for your furbaby and let them have uninterrupted naps and quiet rest time. It doesn’t need to include anything fancy, just a familiar bed, comforting toys, blankets, or anything your pet usually turns to when upset or playing on their own. You’ll quickly notice a difference in your pet’s mood and health.

Make the best out of enclosed space - compensate for the lack of exercising

Another essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle that the lockdown has taken from us is regular physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental for pets, leading to obesity, interrupted sleep cycles, joint problems, and even depression. To keep your pet satisfied and fulfilled, make sure to meet their daily exercise needs and make up for the lack of walks.

If you’re in the situation of a more or less complete lockdown, you have to utilize your home as a fun and engaging space for exercising.

A playpen is a safe and simple way to enable your pup, rabbit, cat, or any other small mammal to have zoomies as much as they need. It can also be their personal haven, equipped with a bed, potty pads, toys, bowls, etc. You can also get a patch of artificial grass for pets or cushioned padding to create an even more authentic playground. Your pet can have fun as much as they want without knocking things around the house, making a mess, or getting injured.

Large and giant dog breeds are probably most endangered when it comes to exercising indoors. To replace long walks and running in the field, utilize a treadmill. It may take some time for the pup to accept the machine, but after a few tries, you won’t be able to take him off it. It works with cats too!

Explore games and indoor activities

There’s no need to beat your brain’s out to find an enriching activity for your pet. Utilize an old cloth or your dog’s favorite toy to play tug-o-war or the good old game of fetch. You can update it by including more stuffed toys and naming them individually for your dog to fetch them by name. This way, you’re keeping your pup on his paws while at the same time stimulating him mentally.

Hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, and similar small pets also need quality cardio, so make sure to keep them appropriately entertained. You can make a DIY obstacle course out of toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, toothpicks, or other home supplies. Involve your kids to make it a fun family activity. If you’re a multi-pet household, this is an excellent opportunity to turn it into an exciting race!

Cats generally enjoy sparkly toys and something to chase around. You can spark interest in your kitty with a simple flashlight or a laser pointer - an endless source of fun for curious cats!

Freeze some treats into cubes and let your cat try to reach it. It will occupy at least 15 minutes of their time to focus and play. Once the ice melts, she’ll get a delicious reward for hard work.

Being natural sniffers, dogs will take a liking to anything that involves hunting and searching. Hide their favorite snacks around the house and let them find their way around the nooks and crannies - kind of a scavenger hunt but for dogs. You can also play hide and seek and see how long it takes your pooch to find you—a great time pass for both.

Try out new activities

Quarantine is a perfect time to explore new talents and hobbies; why not include your pet?

If you always wanted to improve your cooking skills, try out some recipes for pet treats. There’s an array of homemade recipes online, raw or traditional, vegan, grain-free, gluten-free - whatever you like. Your animal companion will assist you with sample tasting, and you’ll both have loads of fun together.

Homemade, unique pet accessories are all the rage right now. Make a DIY collar, leash,  DIY clothes, or even perfume for your pet that will be one of a kind. You can find step-by-step tutorials online that can help you with knitting and sowing. Once you spark your creativity, you can organize a fashion show for your dog or cat, make some cute pictures, and spend quality time with your four-legged friend - the possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget about mental stimulation!

Boosting your pet’s brain is just as important as physical activity. Motivating your pet to stay curious and take the initiative will help them relieve stress, get rid of anxiety, pass the time, and sleep better. Obedience training is always a smart option as mental stimulation, but make sure you do it properly. Don’t have great expectations right away and introduce commands gradually. Lockdown sounds like an excellent opportunity to use it for advanced training, but instead, follow your dog’s ability and mood, rather than set unrealistic deadlines for achieving results.

Cognitive-boosting games like pet puzzles and interactive games are also a great way to enrich your pet.

Finally, if you have the means, organize a playdate for your furry friend. There’s nothing more motivating and enriching for an animal than a fellow pet to play with. Make sure, though, to follow all the safety measures and recommendations not to jeopardize your health and wellbeing.

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