Category Archives: games to play with pets

How to Help Your Pet Deal with the Winter Blues

By Linda Cole

Some dogs enjoy outside winter activities, but not all pets or people want to be outdoors when those frigid winds are howling. Cabin fever can be a problem for our pets, but indoor activities can help to ward off those winter blues and help you both stay in shape.

Remote Control Cars

OK, so my first suggestion gives cats and dogs more exercise than it will you, unless you need to lose some weight in your fingers. However, playing with a small remote control car inside is a blast for most pets and helps get them up and moving. The noise of the car rolling along the floor gets their attention and holds it while they contemplate how to attack this strange new creature that dared to disturb their sleep. Look for a pet friendly car that doesn’t have small parts which can fall off or be pulled off by your pet. You will also want to find one that is strong enough to hold up to a dog or cat who finds the courage to attack it. I have to admit, this is a favorite activity at my house.

Indoor Obstacle Course

An interesting obstacle course can be made with whatever you have in your home. Set up a course where your dog has to jump, crawl and find his way around the course, utilizing furniture along with other fun obstacles like empty drawers, clothes baskets, paper sacks made into tunnels, boxes, broom handles and piles of pillows. Think outside the box to make a challenging and fun course. Cats can also learn to navigate an obstacle course. Use their favorite wiggly toy or a laser light for them to follow. Don’t be afraid to get down on all fours and have your pet follow you. The idea, after all, is for both of you to get up and move!

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How Smart is Your Dog?


By Linda Cole

We like to think our dogs are the smartest and cutest dogs around. Some breeds are more intelligent than other breeds, but they aren’t necessarily good with children or even other pets in the home. Responsible pet owners choose a dog based not on intelligence but how well they fit with their specific lifestyle and living quarters. Still, if you’ve ever wondered how smart your dog really is, reading on for a few ways to test his intelligence.

There are three types of intelligence in dogs: adoptive (problem solving), obedience (how well they learn commands) and instinctive intelligence (inherited or genetic behavior). IQ tests to determine a dog’s intelligence are used to measure their adoptive intelligence. All dogs can learn basic commands, although some may learn slower than others. A motivated dog is eager to learn, and a persistent dog is also a good sign of intelligence.

If your dog doesn’t perform well for all of the following tests, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not smart. He may need better motivation, or a rest. Make sure to have his favorite CANIDAE dog treats on hand.

The towel test. Have your dog sit in front of you and carefully place a towel over his head. Count how many seconds it takes for him to remove the towel. The faster he gets it off, the more points he gets. Score 3 points for less than 15 seconds, 2 points for 15-30 seconds and 1 point for 30 seconds or more.

Hidden treat test. How smart is your dog? Can he find a treat hidden under a can? Take three cans and place his favorite treat under one while he’s watching. Turn him around a few times and then let him find the treat. If he picks the right can the first time, he gets 3 points, two tries gets 2 points and 1 point for getting it on the third try.

Find your favorite spot test. Take your dog out of the room and rearrange the furniture. Score him by how long it takes for him to find his favorite spot. He gets 3 points if he goes right to his spot, 2 points if he has to look around for more than 30 seconds and 1 point if he just picks any spot.

Let’s go for a walk test. Pick a time you don’t usually go for a walk. With your dog watching, do what you usually do when getting ready to go for a walk. If he responds immediately when you pick up his leash and gets excited, give him 3 points, if you had to walk to the door before he gets the clue, give him 2 points, and if he doesn’t respond, 1 point.

Chair puzzle test. This one is designed to see how smart your dog is at problem solving by making him work to get a treat. Place a treat under a chair or table that sits low enough that he will have to use his paws to get the treat. If he gets the treat out in a minute or less, he gets 3 points, if he has to use his paw and his nose, only 2 points, and if you have to get it out for him, 1 point.

Go around a barrier. Using cardboard, make a barrier five feet wide and taller than your dog when he’s standing on two legs. Cut an opening in the middle of the cardboard going from the top to the bottom, but only large enough for your dog to see through. Toss a treat on the other side of the barrier. If your dog walks around the barrier in 30 seconds or less, 3 points, 30 seconds to a minute scores 2 points and if he tries to get through the hole in the middle or doesn’t respond, 1 point.

Scoring:

16 points or more – your dog is a genius
13 to 16 points – above average
9 to 12 points – average
5 to 8 points – below average

IQ tests only measure how smart your dog is at problem solving. The above tests are standard IQ tests you can make into a game while testing your dog. Don’t try doing all of them at the same time if he doesn’t seem interested in the game you want to play. To truly measure your dog’s intelligence, take his entire learning ability into consideration. Some dogs respond to commands better than others , and some have superior instinctive intelligence.

Regardless of how the score turns out, you know your dog best – and his loyalty and love can’t be measured by a few tests. How smart is your dog? With the right kind of motivation and patience, he just might surprise you.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

The Great Cat Debate: Indoor Versus Outdoor


By Julia Williams

Should cats be allowed full access to the outdoors to roam at will, or should they be kept indoors 24/7? This question has likely been debated for as long as people have kept cats as pets. Some people are adamant that cats should never go outside, while others insist that not allowing a cat the pleasures and instinctual experiences of the outdoors borders on cruelty. Bird lovers, and gardeners irked by neighborhood cats digging in their flowerbeds, are understandably in the “cats should stay inside” camp. Veterinarians usually recommend that cats be kept inside too, because nearly every day they see firsthand the bad things that can happen to outdoor cats.

Others, like me, believe there are pros and cons for each side of the indoor versus outdoor cat debate, with no clear-cut “winner.” I think the decision of whether to keep your cat indoors or allow it to go outside is an individual one that every responsible pet owner must make for themselves. It does help, however, to be as informed as possible on the subject, so you can feel confident in the choice you are making – because this choice affects you and your feline friend.

It’s a fact that indoor cats live longer, healthier lives. Outdoor cats face many dangers, including getting hit by cars, attacked by dogs, coyotes and even cat-hating humans. Outdoor cats can be exposed to infectious diseases like feline leukemia, distemper and rabies. They can be poisoned by pesticides, herbicides, antifreeze, motor oil, rat bait, ice-melt products and toxic plants. Turf fights with other outdoor cats are common, and bite wounds can become infected. This is called an abscess, and it requires antibiotics and sometimes surgery. Parasites like fleas and ticks are more problematic for outdoor cats as well.

Even something as seemingly safe as a five-acre field with no car traffic can pose a threat to an outdoor cat. My cat Tiger got a foxtail sticker up his nose, which required an emergency vet visit. These nasty barbed stickers mimic a porcupine quill, and will migrate in only one direction after attaching to fur or finding a way into an opening – pulling it out of his nose myself was definitely not an option.

As you can see, the list of bad things that can happen to outdoor cats is quite long. However, I have to dispute the “average lifespan” figures I’ve seen claiming indoor cats live about 12-14 years whereas outdoor cats live only 3-4 years. I realize these are averages, but in my opinion they aren’t accurate. I’ve had outdoor cats that lived to be 19, 16 and 14, and many of my friends have had outdoor cats who lived similarly long lives.

If you have a pet door which allows your cat to come and go as they please, they may bring things into your house that you won’t like, including mice, rats, gophers, lizards, snakes, bugs, possums and frogs. Dead or alive, these are not things you want in your home. There is nothing worse than getting up in the middle of the night and stepping on something squishy in your bare feet. Trust me.

With all the dangers and disadvantages of allowing a cat outdoors, one might wonder why everyone doesn’t keep their cat inside 24/7. One reason many give is that they don’t think an indoor cat can be happy. Until a few years ago, I believed that a cat deprived of the outdoors would lead a miserable existence. This was primarily because I’d always allowed my cats the freedom of the outdoors, and I saw how happy it made them to climb trees, hunt gophers and sun themselves in my garden.

However, my viewpoint changed somewhat when we moved to Montana. I wanted to keep my cats indoors for several months so they wouldn’t get lost or attempt an “incredible journey” back to their old home. Then winter came, and when my California kitties felt snow on their paws for the first time, they decided for themselves that indoor life wasn’t so bad. In the winter, I don’t think they’d go outside if you opened a can of their favorite Felidae cat food and tried to lure them out with it. In the summer they have the freedom to choose, and they still stay inside about 85% of the time.

This arrangement suits me. My carpet stays a lot cleaner, my vet bills are much lower, and I like knowing they are safe. I think it suits them too, for the most part. Were they happier being outdoor kitties in sunny California? Yes, in all honesty I think they were. But I play with them and pet them often, and I find other ways to enrich their indoor lives that hopefully makes up for not being able to play outdoors.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Can Your Pooch Help You Lose Your Paunch?


By Julia Williams

At the beginning of every new year, millions of people make resolutions pertaining to weight loss, exercise and fitness. They hit the gym with a gung-ho attitude, certain that this time they have the drive and determination to achieve their fitness goals. All too often, January’s resolve melts before the winter snow does, and they end up sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser contestants work out, instead of doing it themselves.

Sound familiar? Well, maybe you just need some new motivation – and who better to help you find your fitness mojo than your best canine buddy? By recruiting your dog as your new workout partner, you’ll not only rekindle your drive to get in shape, but you’ll help your four-legged companion get some much needed exercise too!

With the hectic, overscheduled lifestyle so many of us lead nowadays, it makes perfect sense to incorporate the family dog into your workout regime. Beyond taking them for their daily walk, there are countless things you can do to get fit with Fido. I’ve come up with several to get you started, but don’t be afraid to brainstorm to find other creative ways to exercise with your dog.

Power Walk Plus

Walking your dog is good exercise, but taking it up a notch or two will increase your heart rate and help you both burn more calories. Throughout your walk, mix in some higher-intensity intervals of power walking, jogging, running, leg kicks or high stepping.

Play Dog Tag

The timeless children’s game of tag is just as much fun with a dog, if not more. Take your dog out to your back yard or the local dog park, and let them try to chase you down as you run to get away from them. Dogs catch on to this simple game right away, and they have a blast trying to “tag” you.

Fetch Race

Every dog loves to fetch, and this variation on that classic canine game lets you both get some exercise. Just take your dog’s favorite toy and toss it across the yard or dog park as you normally would when playing fetch, and then race him to see who can get to it first. If your dog is a slow runner and you can easily beat them to the toy, you might want to let them “win” at least part of the time, so that the game remains fun.

Obstacle Course

If you have a large backyard, you can set up a fitness obstacle course that both you and your dog can do together. Use your imagination to create a course that involves jumping over things like benches, low stools, small boxes and other objects, darting around objects like trees and picnic tables, and crawling through tunnels made out of large cardboard boxes.

The popular sport of dog agility is another way both you and your pet can get some exercise. Dog agility involves directing your pooch through an obstacle course in a timed race. As they run up ramps, snake through tunnels and race across balance beams, you’ll need to be guiding them every step of the way, which means that you both get lots of exercise in the process.

“My Best Friends Workout” DVD

This instructional DVD and manual are designed to help dog owners increase the intensity of their daily walk with their canine companion. A certified fitness instructor demonstrates nine unique exercises which incorporate strength training, cardiovascular exercise, anaerobic challenges and core exercises, essentially turning a 20-minute walk into a total body workout. Modifications are shown for nine different dog types, including Lap Dog, Marathoner and Old Timer, which makes it easy to provide the correct amount of activity for your particular dog. It sells for $24.95 and can be purchased online here.

“BOW WOW Bootcamp” Audio Program

This veterinarian-recommended exercise program was created by a top fitness trainer to provide a great workout that’s lots of fun for both dogs and owners. With 2 levels to choose from, each six-week BOW WOW Bootcamp audio CD includes a special mini-flip booklet demonstrating the exercises, as well as nutritional information and dietary guidelines (for the human, not the dog). You can order the CD here for $29.95 plus shipping, or download the MP3 file for $19.95.

Just as you should visit your own doctor before starting any fitness program, so too should your dog get a vet checkup, especially if they are overweight or not used to regular exercise. You can discuss any health issues that might affect your dog’s ability to exercise with you, and your vet can help you determine which activities are appropriate for their current fitness level.

Now that you have some good ideas for how to get fit with your dog, isn’t it time to shut down the computer, call your four-legged friend and get moving?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Indoor Games to Play with Pets on a Cold Winter Day


By Julia Williams

If you live in a frigid winter climate like I do now, you’re probably getting pretty tired of the cold and the snow. I know I am. I started dreaming of warm spring days in early November, and I think my cats did too. We’re used to mild California winters, where spending time outdoors in December is a pleasant experience. Not so these Montana winters!

So how do we keep our pets entertained when being outdoors seems more foolhardy than fun? Play games indoors! There are lots of indoor games you can play with your dog or cat that can help them burn off some energy and keep them stimulated. In addition to alleviating boredom, playing games with your pet can deepen your bond.

Indoor Games to Play With Dogs

Hide And Seek: Yes, the classic game that all children love is a blast for dogs too. Sneak away from your dog and go find a good hiding spot in your home. Once hidden, call your dog and stay there until they “discover” you (and perhaps get a tasty dog treat as their reward).

Find The Treat: This game entails hiding a biscuit or other treat somewhere in your home, and then asking your dog to find it. You’ll need to show your dog how this game works the first few times, but soon they’ll be sniffing out the treat on their own.

Dog Sports: Soccer balls and basketballs are ideal for some sporty fun indoors with your four-legged friend. Roll the ball, and encourage your dog to push it along with their nose or paws. Most dogs quickly comprehend that the object of the game is to roll the ball to you.

Indoor Agility: If you have a big basement or a large playroom, you can set up a mini agility course for your dog. Who knows, you might both enjoy this so much that, come spring, you decide to take up this wonderful outdoor dog sport!

Bubble Chase: You’ll need a lot of space for this great energy-burning game as well. However, leaping and pouncing at bacon-scented bubbles is something that every dog enjoys.

Teach A Trick: Cold winter days are the perfect time to teach your dog a new trick or two – indoors where it’s cozy and warm, of course. Although not exactly a “game,” teaching your dog tricks is a lot of fun and very rewarding.

Indoor Games to Play With Cats

Kitty Whack-a-Mouse: A youtube video inspired me to make one of these fun games for my cats. It’s basically a feline version of the classic Whack-a-Mole found at every carnival. You remember that game, right? To make one for your cats, take an extra large box and cut some holes in the bottom panel, big enough for you to fit your hand through. Put the box on its side and call your cat over to it. Stick a furry mouse cat toy through one of the holes, wiggling it to entice them to grab it. (Wear a thick glove or an oven mitt to protect your hand). Try to pull it back before your cat can get the toy, and immediately stick it out another hole. This game will entertain you, your cat and anyone watching.

Interactive Toys: you can buy a wide variety of cat toys designed for you and your kitty to play together. At the dollar store, I found a furry mouse on a string that was attached to a long wand. I bought a dozen because I was sure that the game of “chase the mouse” would go over well at my house, and it did. Another feline favorite is the “fishing pole” with feathers or a soft toy on the end.

Stairway Ball Toss: I play this energy-burning game with my friend’s kitten who loves to chase things. I throw a small cat toy ball up the stairs and she runs up after it. When she bats at the ball it rolls down the stairs, and she chases it all the way to the bottom.

With a little imagination, there’s virtually no end to the indoor games you can invent to play with your pets. I hope these suggestions inspire you, and help you to entertain your pets during the dead of winter.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.