Games to Play at Home with Your Pet

Staying in a lot lately? Staying home and social distancing  are smart and helpful ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, with all that isolation comes boredom and restlessness. You’re not the only one feeling the quarantine blues; your pets are struggling also. Bored and stir-crazy pets often resort to destructive behavior, particularly dogs. We’re here to help you keep your pet entertained and encourage mental and physical stimulation.

Treasure Hunt

This is an easy way to engage your pet’s super sense of smell. It is also believed that games involving scent may act as a confident booster for your anxious pet. The rules are pretty simple:

  • Have your pet stay, or have someone distract them, while you hide treats around the house. Initially, hide them in relatively conspicuous places or show them where they are.
  • Once you’ve finished hiding the treats, release the hound!
  • Once your pet finds the treat, be sure to give them plenty of praise. This serves as an added reward and motivates them even more! Increase the level of difficulty by hiding the treats in boxes, toys, and in unusual places as you encourage your pooch to find them all.

Frozen Food-Filled Toy

This isn’t necessarily a game, but it is a way to keep your pet mentally stimulated while you’re on those long conference calls.

  • Fill a Kong toy or something similar with peanut butter and put it in the freezer.
  • Once frozen, you’ll have an appetizing treat that will mesmerize your pup for hours. It’s also a great treat for those hot summer days.


This is much like the treasure hunt game, but this game’s reward is finding you!

  • Tell your pet to stay.
  • Find a hiding spot for yourself or another family member.
  • Once hidden, call or release your pooch and wait for them to sniff you out.
  • When they find you, be sure to give them lots of love and praise to let them know how wonderful they are at hide-and-seek!


We’ve all played this game, and it never gets old. This game works well for cats and dogs. All you need for this game is a flirt pole or laser pointer. Simply dangle or bounce the lure on the flirt pole, making it move like a small animal. If using a laser pointer, keep it just out of paw’s reach. These subtle movements entice your pet chase and hunt the laser or lure, providing them a good workout.


This game doesn’t require much explanation, and it’s believed to help reduce aggression by creating a positive, controlled outlet for excessive energy.

  • Teach your dog a “release” command, like “drop it”, so you’ll be able to stop the game when necessary.
  • Play with soft objects, preferably a rope toy or a toy designed for such a game. Never play with hard or sharp objects as they pose a hazard to you and your pet.
  • Stop playing immediately if teeth-to-skin contact occurs or if the game becomes too intense. Play-growling is typical, but check for other serious signs like hair standing up or a tail that has stopped wagging.
  • Let your pup win sometimes! It gives them a confidence boost and allows them to have more fun. No one likes to lose all the time.


This game needs no introduction. Many dogs love a game of fetch, but certain breeds like, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Retrievers have a natural affinity for fetching. Be sure to use toys designed for fetching as frisbees, sticks, and even tennis balls can be harmful to your pet’s teeth.

Free Shaping

Free shaping is considered the gradual process of teaching your pet to perform new or complicated behaviors on command. This can include anything from high fives, using a doggy door, retrieving beverages, to picking up their toys and playing dead. You “shape” a goal behavior by progressively marking and rewarding other behaviors as they approach the desired one. Things to consider:

  • Wait for your pet to offer a relevant behavior, then reward them.
  • Mark specific behaviors with a unique, specific, and consistent word, like “Yes!” or “Good!”.
  • If using clickers, remember to associate the click with a treat or reward.
  • Shaping will drain your pet’s mental energy. Remember to stay positive, go slow, and keep training sessions short.

Obstacle Course

Design an obstacle course for your pet using simple household items, such as hula hoops, chairs, and boxes. Navigating obstacles provides great mental and physical stimulation and builds your pet’s agility.

Doorbell Challenge

This trick helps to curb your pet’s enthusiasm when the doorbell rings or guests enter the house. We’ve included links to each video tutorial below.

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