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Keeping your pet busy during lockdown

Emily Tindall - RVN FDSc

Being at Home

Lockdown is a hard time for everyone and a lot of us are suddenly finding ourselves at home a lot more than usual meaning our pets need entertaining more often with less opportunity for exercise. So that leaves us trying to come up with ideas of what to do to to keep your pet busy during lockdown.

Keeping your pet occupied doesn’t necessarily mean taking them on longer walks or letting them outside for longer. For example, lockdown is a perfect time to teach your pet that new trick you’ve been wanting them to learn or perfecting the ones they already know. There are multiple sources where you can find ideas for new tricks to teach them and youtube is always a great place to start for tutorials. And don’t think it’s only dogs that can learn tricks! Cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs – anything can be taught some simple tricks or games with enough patience!


Is your pet finding meal times a bit boring and repetitive? Want to find a way to make it more interesting for them again without having to change their diet? Why not try puzzle feeders or “search and find” games instead of just putting the biscuits in a bowl for them! Puzzle feeders come in various different levels of difficulty and require different skills.  Some need your dog to knock them over to get the food, with others having levels to pull.

If your cat is quite lazy, try a treat ball with their main diet inside to try and encourage them to move around a little more. Is your pet usually good at hunting or always tracking scents outside? Try and hide some of their meal around the house.  This encourages them to track it down for a tasty reward and burn off some of those lockdown calories at the same time!

Got some free time and aren’t sure what to fill it with? Try some pet safe baking! There are many different recipes out there for you to try.  Some involve your animal’s main diet, some involve different ingredients. There are recipes that are super basic, and some are a bit more complex. From liver cake to basic cookies there’s lots to keep you busy (if you can find flour that is). Does your pet have allergies? Don’t worry! Most ingredients can be substituted for other things meaning you can tailor the recipes to your pet’s dietary requirements.


Enjoying the new Tiktok craze? There’s multiple different trends involving your pets that you can get involved in such as the obstacle course.  You can set up numerous items around a room and calling your pet to you to see if they avoid them or crash straight through them – film the result. Or even the toilet roll challenge; put a row of toilet rolls across the hallway and encourage your pet to jump over it, increasing the height by a row each time.  You finally have a use for those panic bought rolls!

Always wanted to try agility with your pet? What better a time to start! Look up tutorials of how to safely get your pet started, set up a suitably sized course in your garden and have a go! There are many “starter sets” which you can buy online with different obstacles, jumps and courses included which make starting (or improving their skills) so much easier. But be sure you plan your course properly and for the correct size of your animal.  You could do more harm than good making your pet jump over a jump which is too big for them! So get your dog/cat/chicken/rabbit/anything and teach them a new skill!

Grooming and Coat Care

Now is the perfect time to get your pet used to; being brushed, having their feet touched, having their ears checked, opening their mouth, brushing their teeth. Clipping claws is easy when you start doing it.  The hardest part is keeping your pet still! So use this time to get them used to the nail clippers and to people lifting their feet, even have a go at trimming their claws if you haven’t already. For white clawed animals just don’t cut below the pink lines in the claws.  For black clawed dogs cut the claws in line with the pads. Not sure how to do it? Watch a few tutorials!

Lockdown doesn’t have to be all bad and what a better thing to do with your free time than spend it bonding with your pet.