Woodridge Animal Hospital
(630) 985-3101
2009 W. 75th Street, Woodridge, IL  60517
                       dr.amy@woodridgeanimalhospital.com
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Indoor Games for your Dog
Indoor Games for your Cat
The Shell Game
Put your dog in a SIT/STAY or DOWN/STAY away from 3 identical small bowls placed upside down.  Make sure he can see you place a treat or toy under one.  Ask him "Where's the treat/toy?"  If he finds the correct bowl, reward him with the toy or treat and lots of praise.   You can increase the difficulty level by changing the position of the bowls after you place the treat, increasing the number of bowls, or pretending to put treats under multiple bowls.  The biggest challenge once your dog has learned this game is to place the treat/toy under a bowl out of his sight.  This really tests his sense of smell.
The Memory Game
Gather a group of about 3 toys that are noticably different in size, texture, and shape.  Color doesn't matter.  Hold up one toy for your dog to sniff and see.  After getting him excited for it, toss it and say "Get your (toy name)?"  When he comes back with it, give him lots of praise, then repeat with the other toys.  Make sure you keep the name of the toy exactly the same each time you send him to get it.  Once he has mastered the names of these toys, set them in front of him and tell him which you want him to get.  The next step is to put the toys in the other room and ask him to bring you one.  See how many different toys your dog can name.  There's a border collie named Chaser who can identify over 1000 toys.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1340871/Meet-Chaser-The-incredible-border-collie-learned-names-1022-toys.html
Easter Egg Hunt
Put your dog is a sit/stay.  Show him a toy or treat and put it on the floor so he can see it.  Say "FIND IT!"  Repeat the game, varying where you place the treats, gradually making them a little more out of view.  Eventually, set up a roomful of hidden treasures and watch your dog as he searches like a child in an easter egg hunt.  If he's having trouble finding one, tap your foot, or make a sound to get him excited about the ones he's missed.
Spring Cleaning
Have your dog pick up a toy.  Call him to you while you hold the toy box.  When he comes, tell him to "Drop It/Clean up" with the toy box just under his chin.  When he drops the toy, give him lots of praise.  Repeat with the next toy.  Once he gets the idea, put the toy box on the floor and guide him over to it, eventually saying only "Clean Up".
Circus Performer
Have your dog on a leash.  Hold a hula hoop just off the ground and encourage your dog to walk over it.  If you need to, use a small treat or toy on the other side to coax him through the first few times.  Once he's confident going through the hoop, raise it slightly.  Eventually you will need a second person to hold the hoop so that you can move your dog back to let him have a running start.  Give him lots of praise every time he goes through the hoop.  
HIde & Seek
Play with your dog just like when you did when you were a kid.  Have your dog Sit/Stay in one room.  Go into another room, hide and call your dog.  
Workin' for Food
Food dispensing toys are excellent boredom busters.  Anytime you give your dog a food dispensing toy, make sure not to increase the amount of food you're feeding him.  Either decrease his normal amount of food and treats to compensate for the additional calories or use a portion of your dog's normal kibble and treats in the puzzle toys.  Rubber Kongs were the original food dispensing toy and can be stuffed with a great variety of treats and tasties.  However, recently, the options have expanded greatly.  Two puzzle toy brands available are the Nina Ottosson line and the Aikiou toy.  Other options include: Kong wobbler, Kibble Nibble, Busy Buddy toys, Orbee Treat Spot toys, Canine Genius connectable toys, Tug-a-Jugs, and Buster Cubes.
More Hunting Games
Drag a piece of string over chairs and through hallways. Start and stop often, imitating the movements of a cat's natural prey. Even better: Tie a fake mouse or other toy to the end of the string and be sure to let kitty catch her prey sometimes. 
Ping-Pong Paws 
All you'll need for this diversion is a kitty who likes bathtubs (no water) and some ping pong balls. Once you've enticed kitty into the tub (don't force), bounce a ball off the shower wall and let it fall into the tub. Kitty will bound after it, and since ping pong balls are hard to grasp, the ball will slip right through kitty's clutches. When the game starts slowing down, toss in another ball. You can also entertain kitty by tossing the ping pong balls onto the smooth kitchen floor.
Indoor Hunting
Stock up on wind-up mice, spiders, cars, and robots at the pet store (or even a toy store). When you get home, wind the toys up and watch kitty go.  Start with one at a time and then add additional toys to keep your cat interested.  
Fishing
Teach your kitty to fish. What you'll need is a big bowl of water and floating toys like corks, plastic mice, or ping pong balls. Get kitty's attention, then toss a toy or two in the water (don't let it splash). Once you're kitty enjoys fishing in the big bowl of water, try the sink or bathtub for added pleasure.
Catnip flavored Bubbles and other Catnip toys.
Catnip and catnip-flavored bubble solution is available at a pet supply stores.  I recently found the bubble solution at Petco.com.   About 50% of cats are affected by catnip.  If your cat likes likes it, blow a roomful of bubbles for your cat to catch or play "catch" with other types of catnip toys.  Making your cat stretch a little to catch the toy and chasing bubbles are great ways to get them some exercise.  NOTE:  Catnip can get stale, so the refillable toys that you can refresh as needed are good choices.   
Newspapers
 A definite favorite.  Spread them on the floor.  Make a tent with a few and hide toys under the pages.  Your cat will likely spend hours pouncing and tearing away.  Just make sure you’ve read the paper before trying this one!
The Muffin Tin Game
Take a 12-muffin tin and put a treat in each cup.  Place tennis balls in about half the cups.  Once your dog has found all the uncovered treats, he will likely figure out that knocking away the tennis balls reveals more treasures.  If not, push one aside to show him how it's done.  As your dog gains experience, you can start hiding treats under only some of the tennis balls and not in the open cups.  NOTE:  Some dogs find it’s more fun to smack the muffin tin and send all the balls and treats flying.  If you're ambitious, you could screw the muffin tin to a large piece of plywood to prevent this.
Go Wild and Freeze
Start by dancing around and acting excited until your dog decides to join you in the excitement.   After a minute or so, suddenly stop moving.  Ask your dog to sit.  The moment he does, praise him, say "release" and start dancing around again.  When your dog joins in, after another minute or so, stop, ask for that sit again, and reward him by re-starting the party.
 
Mix things up by varying what behaviors you ask for and how long you wait before re-starting the game. If your dog is super-excitable and likely to mouth you or ricochet off you, start with a pale-vanilla version of “going wild” -- your dog’s introduction to this game can be “Take a Single Step and Freeze.” You can also retreat behind a baby gate if need be.  This game is not only fun, it helps teach yoru dog self- control as he learns to respond to your cues even when excited.
Hide and Seek
 Cats love to play hide and seek.  Play around corners with your cat just as you would a child – cats love it.  Imitate how prey appears and disappears.  Or play with a mouse or other toy under the blanket.  Your cat will attack the object just as they would with prey, so watch your hands!
Shadows
Many cats love of shadows.  Similar to the patterns light makes on the wall, they are fascinated by the “puppet shows”.

Wand Toys
Cats are fascinated by things that move in the air or on the floor.  That’s one reason that wand toys are so popular.  A great game is to run up and down stairs with this, and let the chase ensue!   Wand toys should only be used under supervision though, as your cat could choke on the object at the end or become entangled in or ingest the string if left alone. A good quality toy is important, so that parts don’t fray or come off and choke your cat.  
Scratching Posts
Scratching posts are necessary to save your couch, but also are great places for cats to play.  Make sure any scratching post is sturdy enough you won’t fear it will tip, and slather it with catnip.  Some scratching posts even have “seats” on top where you can place toys or hang toys off the edges.
Boxes and Bags
These old standbys are great for hide and seek games.  Be sure to cut the handles off shopping bags and use only paper, never plastic bags.
Catty Stacks are a company that makes cat “furniture” from recycled corrugated material.  The units can be stacked to make all sorts of great condos and play houses that your cat will love.
Moving Lights
Many cats are fascinated with light of all types.  You can use a watch that catches the sun or a laser pointer.  Direct the light up the walls, along the floor, and let your cat chase and jump away.  Make sure to occasionally stop the light/laser on an object so that kitty can eventually capture her prey.  Otherwise, this can cause frustration.  NOTE:  Avoid shining any light or laser directly in your cat's eyes.
IMPORTANT:  Anytime you play a game with your dog, make sure to end the game clearly, for example by saying “All done!” and sitting down, ignoring him completely.  If you say the same phrase every time, he will learn that it signifies the end of play for now.  Be sure to ignore all attempts to get the game started again -- otherwise, he’ll learn that pestering works.