Keeping pets and kids entertained at home

Some ideas on how to keep your furry friends and their human companions entertained during the holidays.

12th April 2022

Are you dreading a half-term full of unpredictable weather and kids at home pestering pets that have grown accustomed to peace and quiet during term time? Well, we’ve got you covered. Here are just some ideas on how to keep your furry friends and their human companions entertained during the holidays.

Cat grass

Looking for a half-term project? Why not learn a little about gardening as you entertain your kids and their feline friends by growing some cat grass? In the wild, cats will often nibble on grass after they’ve eaten their prey to help them expel any indigestible bits of their meal. This is also true about hairballs! Cat grass can also provide your cat with some indoor entertainment and help with smelly breath.

You can grow a variety of different greens for your cat to chew on to keep them busy while at home.

a cat showing interest in cat grass

Bonus: why not get creative and decorate the container before planting your seeds?

Remember: Specially purchased cat grass is perfectly safe for your cat but don’t be tempted to bring some grass home, as those found outdoors may have been treated with chemicals that can be harmful to your cat.

Bird feeders

Another fun idea is installing a bird feeder near a window for your cat and kids to watch the birds as they come and go. Everyone can join in on the fun and you could even use it as a chance to learn about the local wildlife by playing a game of Bird Bingo!

a bird at a feeder near the window

Remember: Make sure your cat can’t reach the feeder in case they take a fancy to any of the birds making the most of your hospitality.

Make a snuffle mat

If you’re looking for something to do together why not try making a snuffle mat for your cat or dog? A snuffle mat is a toy that encourages your pet to sniff and search out treats hidden in the mat strands. Great for keeping any aged kitty or pooch mentally stimulated on long, slow days.

What you need:

  • A rubber bathmat (with holes in it)
  • Fleece fabric cut into strips (avoid fabric that will fray). Why not pick colours that match your décor or go bold and bright to bring a touch of fun to your home?
  • Scissors

Step 1: Cut the fabric strips

Cut the fabric into strips roughly 10cm long and 3cm wide. Don’t worry too much about the length of the strips being the same, a little variation will make it more interesting for your pet! The width will need to be similar to the holes of your mat.

Step 2: Knot the strips

Once your strips are ready, you can start adding them to your mat!

  • Start in a corner of the mat working from the back.
  • Fold a strip of fabric in half. Poke one half of the fabric through a hole then poke the other hole through the hole next to it..
  • With the two halves of fabric now at the front of the mat, tie a double knot to secure the fabric to the mat.
  • Repeat along the row until all the holes have been tied with a strip of fabric.

When you've filled the mat, check for any gaps and fill accordingly.

Step 3: Have fun!

Once you’ve finished creating your mat, the real fun begins! Sprinkles some treats into the strips and see how your cat or dog takes to their new toy. You might need to help them by leading them to the mat with your hand, but it shouldn’t take long for them to figure out that there are some yummies hidden amongst the fun mess of fabric!

a dog sniffing a snuffle mat

Play hide and seek

Hide and seek is the perfect game to keep kids and dogs (we’d say cats, but we don’t think they’d care enough to play) entertained! Dogs do best doing the finding while children will enjoy hiding.

Here's how to play hide and seek with your pooch:

  1. Leave your dog in one room, you can stay with them if you’d like.
  2. Remind your child not to hide somewhere too difficult before they run off and find a spot.
  3. Have them excitedly call your dog. This is supposed to be fun for everyone!
  4. When your dog eventually finds them, make sure they give a treat and lots of fuss.
  5. Repeat a few times until they get the hang of it.

Why not try hiding different things?

If your dog doesn’t really seem motivated to play hide and seek with a person, here are a few different things you

  • Hide their favourite toy
  • Hide treats around the house

Easter egg hunt

With Easter just around the corner, you could plan and hold a feline-friendly or canine-catered Easter egg hunt for everyone? Any kids can help set up the hunt while cats and dogs can have a go at finding any hidden treats! Just be sure to use pet-safe treats and don’t use any human chocolate as this is poisonous for cats and dogs.

DIY agility course

If you’re looking to tire your kids and pooch, why not set up a DIY agility course using things you might already own at home? It doesn't matter if your dog has no practice, here’s a list of simple tricks that’ll make both of you look like professionals in no time.

Jumps

If you have a hula hoop or something similar you can train your dog (and any children) to jump through. When first training your pooch, simply hold the hoop at the desired height while signalling your dog to jump through. Try using a treat to entice them to take the leap and once they’ve done as they were supposed to reward them, so they know they’ve done a good job. We suggest starting by holding the hoop low to the ground at first and encouraging your dog to simply walk through it. Once they’ve got the hang of it then you can slowly increase the height to meet your dog’s ability.

Tunnel

Do your children have a play tunnel or fancy creating one from a row of chairs and a blanket? These lightweight collapsible corridors are perfect for dog training and can be fun for everyone involved. Your dog might be hesitant to walk through the tunnel at first so it’s important to be encouraging. Have your children go through the tunnel first and you might find that your dog will follow.

If this doesn’t work, you can also try placing treats at the front, middle and end of the tunnel to encourage them to go through.

Other obstacles

Finding DIY alternatives for a weaving section and ramps can be quite difficult depending on what you have at home. It’s important that whatever you use won’t be able to hurt your dog if they were to run into it or have it fall on them. If they take to jumping through the hoop and running through the tunnel it might be worth looking at local agility clubs for your dog to join!

Let us know how you keep your pets and kids entertained during the school holidays on our Facebook page to help keep other owners and parents sane during the term break.

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