Ran out of humans to prank? Nothing better to do? Well, there’s plenty of fun that can be had at the expense of your pet – you know, the furry thing living in your house that doesn’t contribute to the bills. Some may denounce playing a joke on your pet as cruel, but as long as you don’t do anything that could hurt or traumatise them – and give them a treat and a bit of attention afterwards – there’s plenty of good, harmless fun you can have at the expense of the animal that follows you around, like...
\#1 – The straightforward scare
There’s no complex planning required here, simply channel your inner ninja and sneak up on your pet when he or she is least expecting it. Throw in a “boo”-like noise and a tap on the back and it can turn into pure gold. You can prank a dog like this, but cats – with their manic jumping and chaotic flailing – are the best recipients of this bare-bones prank.
\#2 – The uncatchable ball
A piece of genius that requires some setup: you need a ball on a string and a table or other obstacle your dog can walk around. Tie the ball to your dog’s collar and wrap the string right around the obstacle, so the ball comes full circle and ends up right in front of the dog, all enticing and fun-looking. When it goes to chase the ball, the string is pulled and the ball sets off moving away from it and around the table – it becomes uncatchable. If your dog is smart, it might just turn around and ruin the joke, but not all dogs are that smart...
Related: Bark Post: Bully
\#3 – The cling film force-field
Cling film is pet-pranking ammo of the highest calibre, forming a barely-visible low-tech force-field you can place across the lower half of the door-frame or – if you’re particularly mean – your cat or dog-flap. Call your pet or put a treat on the other side to watch it all come together. Then feel a bit bad, move the cling film and give him or her more treats.
Related: YouTube: Plastic wrap prank
\#4 – Box mocking
Cats have several built-in glitches, like a fondness for sitting in hastily-drawn circles or, more famously, for sitting in pretty much any box you leave lying around. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen, some sticky tape and a go-to-insult.
\#5 – Pet socks
If you’ve seen the Kitten Mittens episode of "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia," you get the picture here: put socks, mittens or mini-shoes on your pet and watch it hopelessly try to lift its feet out of them while walking. It looks like they’re trying to climb over invisible objects with every step.
\#6 – The switcheroo
This is a twist on the straightforward scare: coax your pet into playing using a familiar toy, hiding it behind a couch or other obstacle but popping it out into view periodically. When your pet approaches, switch the toy for another strikingly different stuffed animal, bring it out again and enjoy as your pet’s tiny little mind is blown. Mock-chase it with the second toy during the reveal to make the experience even more startling/vaguely traumatising.
Related: Imgur: The ol' switcheroo
\#7 – Static electricity balloon
Cats don’t understand static electricity (or at least I hope they don’t), so if you give a balloon a good rub and stick it to the underside of your cat’s belly you get a kitten-mittens-like result without all the awkwardness of putting something on its feet. “Oh, I’ll just step over it... wait, it’s still there! It’s OK; I obviously just didn’t step high enough... Oh god what’s happening to me?!”
Related: YouTube: Staticy cat vs. balloon
\#8 – Cat breading
Not only does a cat with its face through a slice of bread look hilarious, it also exploits one of the funniest glitches hard-coded into cat DNA: if something is over your head, move backwards until it goes away. The awkward, uncoordinated back-tracking takes something already brilliant and pushes it into overdrive.
\#9 – Cats vs. ham
Similar to cat-breading, but the comedy is all in the back-tracking. This is hard to pull off, though, because getting a slice of ham perfectly stuck across a cat’s face can be a challenge: you need smooth application and a relatively still cat. But when you get it right, the result is hard to beat. Plus, the meat is a nice reward for the cat when it finally escapes from its hammy face-prison.
Related: YouTube: Ham cat
\#10 – Laser bowling
Laser pens are an ideal pet-prank accessory, because both dogs and cats really hate that little red dot. Exploit their desire to chase it down with the help of a slippery floor and some empty plastic bottles (or anything else not heavy or otherwise potentially painful) arranged like bowling pins. Attract their attention with the laser pen, and then pick up the pace and send the dot hurtling towards the makeshift pins, hopefully bringing your pet along for the ride. Go for a strike, because you probably won’t get a second attempt.
Related: YouTube: Cat laser bowling
\#11 – Catsketball
Here, all you need is a cat, a laser pen, an empty box or bin and a lot of skill. Making your pet a bowling ball is one thing, but using your cat as a basketball is a lot more challenging. You need to position the dot perfectly so the trajectory of the cat’s pounce leads it right into your makeshift “basket.” This isn’t the kindest of all pranks, though, so let your cat out straight away and be especially nice to it afterwards.
Related: YouTube: Cat
\#12 – The empty plate trick
No elaborate setup required for this one; just a cold heart. Simply pretend to give your pet (preferably multiple pets) a plate of food, but actually just put an empty plate down for them. If they’re particularly excited and ideally also a little dim, they’ll giddily scour the plate for food before looking up at you in utter confusion. Then comes the standard post-prank progression of laughing, feeling slightly guilty and giving them some actual food.
Related: Imgur: So much disappointment
\#13 – Magic for dogs
Dogs might have cats beaten in the intelligence department, but that just makes them ripe for slightly more complicated pranks. Get your dog’s favourite treat in one hand and make sure you’re wearing something with baggy sleeves. The aim is to snap the fingers of your other hand and, in the process, flick the treat down into your sleeve. Bring the treat towards your finger-snapping hand so it’s right beside your sleeve, and practice simultaneously snapping your fingers and flicking the treat down into your sleeve. When you’re well-prepared, perform the trick for your dog, showing your empty hands afterwards. Then watch as your canine searches the floor for the treat that disappeared. And of course, then start to feel guilty and give him the treat.