Category Archives: fun and games

Fun Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors

indoor games jamieBy Laurie Darroch

Whether impeded by rain or snow, or by location, sometimes it’s just not possible to take your dog outside for their much needed exercise. However, there are lots of fun games you can play with your dog indoors to help keep her mentally challenged and physically fit. It is also a great way to bond with your dog and spend quality time together. The restrictions of indoor space are a perfect place to work on behavior and obedience too.

Mental Challenges

Like people, dogs can get restless and bored being indoors. Dogs love physical games that burn off energy, but they also enjoy mental challenges that keep them alert and focused.

Hiding games encourage dogs to use all their senses and give them something to strive for. If your dog is learning the “stay” command or has already mastered it, a simple game of hide-and-seek will be fun for her. If she has not mastered the “stay” command and there is another human in the house, have that person hold the dog and repeat the word “stay” while you hide in another part of the house. Then have them say the release word and “Find Mommy,” “Find Daddy” or your name if that is how they know you. For dogs that will stay on command, give them the command, go hide and then call them with your release word and tell them to find you. To challenge your dog, repeat the game and change your hiding places.
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How to Teach Your Dog to Speak

By Langley Cornwell

Call me a sucker, but I love cheesy dog tricks. When someone teaches their dog to drop and roll over when they point a finger at him, I’m hooked. Or when someone says “hello, Spot,” and their dog gives a quick bark in response. Come on, that’s gold. It makes me think of all the time the dog and human spent together teaching and learning these silly games. I also think about all the bonding and love they shared during that time. In fact, when I see other people’s cute dog tricks, it makes me want to teach my dogs some cool new things. With that in mind, I recently learned how to teach my dogs to speak. Turns out, teaching your dog to bark on command (or “speak”) is one of the easiest tricks you can teach him. It keeps your dog mentally sharp, it’s a great opportunity to bond, and it’s a fun party trick. Here’s how to do it.

Get Your Dog Jacked Up

Granted, this is not advice I would usually give. Those of you with dogs that are already overly-enthusiastic are probably giving me the stink eye right now, but just stay with me here. You probably already know that when you get happy and excited, your dog does too. So lay on the hijinks. If your dog likes to wrestle around, do that. If he prefers to play tug or fetch, do that. The idea here is to get your dog’s undivided attention, make him happy and raise his energy level.
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6 Fun Homemade Games For Cats

cat games PeteBy Julia Williams

Every cat guardian knows how important play is for a feline’s physical and mental wellbeing. Playtime provides beneficial exercise while stimulating their minds and preventing boredom. If you’re like me, you have an assortment of toys littering your floor. You may have also discovered that a plain cardboard box has as much feline appeal as a new catnip mouse. With that in mind, here are some ideas for homemade games that will entertain your kitty and don’t cost a lot.

Ball Pit

I found a cute video of cats playing in a kiddie pool filled with little plastic balls. Looks like fun! You can also use ping pong balls, and if you don’t have a kiddie pool, just use your bathtub to keeps the balls contained. Rocky loves this game and will play with just one or two balls in the bathtub for quite some time.

Box Jumping

This game takes advantage of a cat’s natural affinity for the box, and their love of jumping. Line up a row or two of boxes as shown in this video. Let your kitty smell a CANIDAE cat treat or piece of kibble, then toss it into the box to start the game. Once they jump into the box and eat that piece, toss another into a different box making sure your cat sees where it goes. Depending upon how food motivated your kitty is and how (ahem) smart they are, you may need to “walk them through” how to play at first. Some kitties enjoy the box jumping game even without the enticing treats.
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5 Simple and Inexpensive Toys for Dogs

dog toy johnBy Laurie Darroch

As much as we love our dogs, the toys they play with can be expensive. We enjoy spoiling them, but sometimes we just have to resist the urge to buy them new toys.  The good news is, you do not have to spend a fortune on dog toys to keep your canine companions entertained. Simple toys can be just as much fun! Here are 5 alternatives to expensive dog toys.

Bubbles

Make or buy some non-toxic bubble solution and use either a battery powered bubble blower that makes a lot of bubbles one right after the other, or a simple inexpensive dollar store bubble wand to make the bubbles one at a time. This is great exercise for your dog as well as being a fun game for them. Watching your dog chase the bubbles is entertaining for you, too! Running, jumping and chasing the bubbles outside gives your dog some good leg stretching and cardio activity. A long session of chasing bubbles will burn off an active dog’s excess energy for a while.

Boxes

Cats are not the only pet fascinated with boxes and bags and their contents. Dogs can be little nosey Parkers as well, and have to find out what is in those interesting containers.  Take advantage of a dog’s natural curiosity and create a simple toy using an empty cereal box or other small food box. Put some tasty CANIDAE treats in the box, set it on the floor and see how long it takes your dog to find a way to extract the treats from the box. Then repeat to keep your dog entertained. The cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels works, too – simply flatten one end and seal it up with duct tape.

Rag Toys

Not only are these toys simple to make, they recycle old clothes into inexpensive toys for your dog. Cut off the zipper from a worn out pair of jeans. Cut the jeans into strips and tie the strips together in knots with different sized knots. The thick jean material will hold up to dog gnawing.

dog toy LynYou can make something similar with old t-shirts – cut them into thin strips and tie together to make an octopus shaped toy with a knot. This works as a tugging toy and as a throw and fetch toy. The knot gives the toy weight and helps the fabric fly when you toss it.

Put a ball inside a sock and knot the end to keep the ball in the “sock sack.” This can be used as both a tug toy and a throw toy.  If you put a really bouncy ball such as a tennis ball inside the sock, the toy will also bounce on a hard surface when you throw it for your dog to fetch.

Sticks

The old classic stick is still a favorite fetch “toy” with dogs. Pick a stick that is not too big or thick, but big enough for your dog to grab onto.

Do be aware of what type of plant or tree the stick comes from. Some types are extremely poisonous for your dog and should not be put in their mouth or used as a fetch toy. To keep your dog from swallowing splinters of wood, don’t let them chew on the stick no matter what type of tree it is from.

Plastic Jugs

This may not be a good toy for extreme chewers, although they can play with these with full supervision. Empty and wash out a plastic milk jug or use an empty large plastic water jug. Put some CANIDAE kibble in the jug and leave the cap off. Throw the container across the room. If your dog is a chaser, they will have fun charging after the noisy bottle and running around with the captured prize held by the handle.

Your dog may even play fetch with the bottle the same way they do with a stick or ball. It is humorous to see a dog run around holding the big jug between their teeth. It makes for some funny photo opportunities as well. This toy catches their attention even more when thrown on a tile or wood floor or on a patio where it makes plenty of noise.

As with any toy, store purchased or homemade, keep an eye on your dog when they are playing. Watch out for wear, inappropriate chewing, and broken parts they might ingest. As inexpensive as these homemade toys are, just throw them away or put into the recycling bin if they get too ripped or worn out to play with safely.

Top photo by John Collins/Flickr
Bottom photo by Lyn Lomasi/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

8 Great Cat-Themed Coloring Books for Adults

By Julia Williams

Would it surprise you to learn that five of the top 25 bestsellers on Amazon today are adult coloring books? Or that the book credited with jump-starting the adult coloring book craze, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide? If you read the news or spend any time on social media, those two factoids are probably not a revelation. Perhaps you’re even among the legions who enjoy this fun hobby that’s becoming more popular by the day.

Some say coloring – aka Art Therapy – is a wonderful way to relax and that it can reduce stress and anxiety, and even help with depression. Others say coloring provides an accessible creative outlet, a way to be “artsy” even if you can’t draw. I discovered adult coloring books in April, and coloring quickly became my go-to activity whenever I had a minute to spare. Because I love all things feline, my first adult coloring book was a cat-themed one. I’ve since branched out to other designs, but am also collecting the cat coloring books. I wanted to share a few of my favorites here today. (This is by no means a complete list of all the nice cat-themed adult coloring books out there! That would require a novel-length post).
coloring creative
Creative Haven: Creative Cats

Just about every cat person who colors has this enchanting book by artist Marjorie Sarnat. The images are quite detailed and challenging to color, featuring adorable felines amongst flowers, hearts, butterflies, owls, cityscapes and fantasy scenes.  There are over 30 illustrations printed on one side only, which means you can use any medium—even markers – to color them without worrying about bleed through. The pages are also perforated for easy removal.
coloring quilts
Cats & Quilts

Jason Hamilton is a software engineer who likes to draw to unwind after a busy workday. His charming adult coloring book contains 24 cozy illustrations of cats and kittens doing what they do best – napping! Aside from the really sweet images, one thing I especially like about this book is that each illustration appears in two sizes: full page and 4″ x 6″ which is perfect for framing or just trying out a different color scheme. The images are printed on one side only.

coloring fancyCreative Fancy Cats  

This book by artist Gina Trowler has 30 eclectic illustrations to color, including cats in sunglasses, a Puss In Boots-style character, cats chasing butterflies, befriending a bird and peeking out from baskets. Some of the images are intricately detailed with tiny spaces that require concentration and a steady hand (as well as fine tip markers!) while others offer a more relaxed approach. The images are printed on one side only.

coloring mindfulCats: Coloring for Mindfulness

I am totally in love with the playfully quirky style of this book by Paris illustrators Aurelie Castex and Claire Laude. You’ll find all sorts of detailed scenes featuring cats as Matryoshkas (Russian nesting dolls), cats playing, dancing, dressing up and just generally getting into mischief – just like a feline! The 60 whimsical illustrations are printed on both sides of the page; this creates some really cute double-page spreads, but it’s also a drawback if you like to color with markers, as they will bleed through the paper. The book’s cover is more luxurious than most, something between a hardback and a paperback with a nice feel and look.coloring mimi

Mimi Vang Olsen Cats Coloring Book

Renowned artist Mimi Vang Olsen travels the world meeting cats and creating folksy pet portraits that capture each feline’s unique purrsonality. This delightful coloring book features 22 reproductions of her original cat-themed works of art. On the inside front and back cover are small color photos of the artwork, so you can color the images to match Mimi’s or do them entirely different. The paper is nice and thick, and the icoloring chatsmages are printed on one side only.

Art Therapie: Chats

This adorable little cat coloring from France is smaller than most at approximately 5 ½” x 8″. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for with 60 wonderful cat-inspired illustrations. It’s the perfect size book to take along to get your cat coloring fix while you wait in the doctor’s office etc.

coloring ruthDesigns for Coloring: Cats

Originally published in 1990 (long before the adult coloring book trend!), this book by artist Ruth Heller is geared more toward children. However, cat lovers of all ages will enjoy coloring the images which feature housecats as well as jungle cats like a lion and leopard. One downside is that many of the images appear more than once, either magnified into a super close-up shot or reduced to form a quartet on the page. Still, it’s really cute and the images are printed on only one side of the page, so I still give the book two paw’s up.

coloring grumpyGrumpy Cat

No list of cat coloring books would be complete without a mention of one of the most famous real-life felines, the surly but loveable Grumpy Cat. This book is also geared towards children, but hey – it’s Grumpy Cat! Which means it’s going to be funny as well as fun to color.

All of the above cat coloring books are available on Amazon, where you can get more detailed information as well as see some sample pages. And if you like to color kitty pics, you might want to join the Cat Colorings group on Facebook to share your colorings with other cat lovers!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Backyard Fun and Games with Your Dog

backyard fun GordonBy Langley Cornwell

Do you ever have days when you feel like no one appreciates you? If so, you’re probably smart enough to go out and do something for yourself so that you at least show yourself some appreciation. Likewise, you’re able to go out and find something fun to do when you are bored or lonely. In other words, you can make things happen. Unfortunately, your dog doesn’t have this same ability, and it’s up to you to make life exciting for him.

Let’s face it—dogs are loyal even when you don’t appreciate them. Sure, they tend to get in trouble when they are bored, but that’s just because they’re trying to find a way to amuse themselves. Since that might be anything from digging in the trash can, ripping up the couch cushions or chewing on your book, this can be problematic.

Not only that, but a bored dog is a sad dog. Dogs literally try to sleep through their loneliness; when you are away they spend their time snoozing off and on, and living for nothing more than the time when you come home.

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