Here at the Shelter we make sure that the animal gets exercise and interaction every day, but even so they still spend a lot of their time in kennels or pods, so we have come up with ingenious ways of keeping them entertained. If animals aren’t mentally stimulated then they can quickly show signs of stress, and the same could be true of your pets at home so we thought we’d share some of our favourite techniques for keeping the animals busy.
Make Feeding Fun
There are many different feeding tools and games available for your pets, things that make it fun for your cat or dog to get at their food. These challenges make them work a bit harder and think a bit more about how to get to the tasty treats. Here at the Shelter we don’t have the money to buy these toys for all our animals, so we make our own! Snuffle mats are a great example, weaved material mats with lots of overlapping strands or hanging loose in which a handful of food can disappear. Dogs and cats will then go foraging, trying to dig out every last morsel of their lunch. The children on our Animal Days have been helping us make snuffle mats and some have made them for their dogs at home. You can find instructions in the Education section of our website.
One toy we do use a lot of is Kongs. These plastic shapes are perfect to pack with food or treats and can be left with dogs unattended for them to spend hours working on. In warmer months we even freeze the Kongs to make the fun last longer! We sell Kongs here at the Shelter and advise everyone adopting to take one.
Toys Don’t Have To Be Expensive
Having plenty of toys for your pet to play with is essential, whether it’s dogs or rabbits they just want to have fun like we do! Again we prefer to make our own and have several ideas on the website including rope tug toys woven from old scraps of material, toilet tubes stuffed with hay and treats for the small animals or catnip toys which are simpler to make than you might think! Even simple things like cardboard boxes with a hole in make great playthings for cats or hidey-holes for rabbits.
More Than Just A Walk
Of course nothing beats getting out for some proper exercise, but it is easy to get stuck in a rut of walking the same route every day which isn’t particularly stimulating for your dog. We employ some simple tools to make the dog walks more interesting and beneficial. Firstly, mix it up; walk somewhere different, vary the pace, do your route backwards or on the other side of the road. Use the time to work on some training, with a pocketful of treats you can work on sit or give paw while you wait for traffic lights for example. Make sure you give your dog plenty of opportunity to use their nose and have a sniff, and if they’re sociable let them meet other dogs and humans as much as possible.
With a few of these simple tools you should have a much happier pet who will be more active and intelligent, and they’re also good fun for you! You can find more details in the Education section of our website at www.gawa.org.uk