Summertime Fun

SUMMERS IN THE SOUTHWEST present challenges to our everyday routines. Going outside to do ANYTHING seems like a monumental, sweaty task that we would much rather avoid all together.  With our outdoor activities being limited to early mornings or late evenings, many pets and people don’t get enough outside playtime. BUT, there are fun summer activities that we can enjoy with our pets in spite of the heat!

Even though we are stuck inside most of the day, there are still many fun games we can play with our pet indoors:

Food Puzzles
Feeding our pets should be more of an adventure for them than just eating their food out of a dish.  A great way to facilitate their need to enjoy the hunt is to buy a food puzzle.  Food Puzzles are inexpensive and come in a variety of shapes and styles specifically designed for dogs and cats.  It can be a great way to stimulate your pet’s problem-solving skills and help them fulfill their primal instinct to hunt and work for their food. They will enjoy the challenge of retrieving the treat.

The Three Cup Game
Using 3 small cups and an appetizing treat, your cat or dog may enjoy the Three Cup Game.  Place a treat under one of the cups and see if your pet will push the cup over to get it.  After they have mastered that, start moving the cups around and see if they can still find it.  While this game is typically more appealing to dogs, many cats enjoy it as well.

Hide the Treat
Take a few of your pet’s favorite snacks and place them in a bowl where your pet can see them.  Then, take them out of the bowl and hide them throughout the house.  This game will encourage their natural scavenging instincts and will give them a little exercise in the process.  It is much more exciting to find a treat than to have it handed to you.

Yes, you can play fetch indoors if your dog (or cat) is not overly exuberant or excessively reckless. Hallways are typically the best place to throw a ball or toy for your pet to fetch.  (For dogs, they may need to learn some new rules about “indoor fetch”.)  Cats can and will learn to play fetch if they decide it is a fun activity worthy of their participation.  If it’s enjoyable to them they WILL fetch and they will bring the toy back to if they want it thrown again.

Finding outdoor activities to enjoy with our pets is a little more challenging during the hot summer months. For our cats, who are typically indoors for safety reasons, there are still things we can do to help their summertime blues.  Even if your cat resides indoors, you can still provide outside entertainment by giving them a great view of the outdoors from a window.

Setting up a climbing tree or a shelf in front of a window will give your cat the visual experience of the outdoors.  If your cat has a comfortable spot in front of a window to watch the birds and the happenings in the neighborhood, he will feel much less isolated in his indoor environment.

For our canine friends, early morning walks and late evening outside games are just the beginning of entertaining outdoor activities.  Some of the best outdoor summer fun begins with WATER!  In your own backyard, you can create LOTS of great entertainment for you and your dog with the help of a garden hose and your own imagination!

Set Up a   Sprinkler
Setting up a sprinkler in your backyard can add all kinds of new fun to your traditional game of fetch.  You can run through it together, play fetch, chase, or invent your own games to play while enjoying the cool water droplets.

Buy a Kiddie Pool
An inexpensive kiddie pool can be a great summertime investment; just add water, a few floating dog toys, and your favorite pooch!  Toss a few dog toys in the pool and see if he’ll fetch them.  Or, for an ultra-cool experience, try adding a bag of ice to the pool and watch your dog try to eat the ice cubes. When playtime is over, you may BOTH want to relax in the pool for a cool refreshing break.

Create your own Splash Pad
You can make your own mini water park in your backyard with just a few inexpensive items. With the aid of a waterproof tarp, a sprinkler, a kiddie pool, some tent stakes, and a few pool noodles, you can create a mini splash pad!  Start with spreading out the tarp and placing the pool noodles where you can easily reach them near the edges. Next, wrap the edges of the tarp around the pool noodle, rolling them inward to create the desire size of your splash pad.  Use the tent stakes on the outside of the rolled-up noodle to keep it from unrolling. (The noodles will provide a little bumper around the perimeter and will let water accumulate in the tarp.)  Add your kiddie pool, your sprinkler, and your favorite pup for tons of splash pad fun!

Even though the “dog days” of summer may be long and hot, they don’t have to be boring.  With a little creativity and imagination, you and your pet can invent new games and activities that you can enjoy this summer and for many years to come. ©