With some creativity and a few inexpensive supplies, you can transform a day indoors with your pet to an afternoon of fun.
You’re not the only one who gets the winter blues. The cold, dark, rainy weather means more time indoors for you and your pet. And that can get very boring, very fast.
When our pets are bored it can lead to unwanted behavior like chewing and shredding, digging up the yard or pestering you for attention. Sound familiar? They need daily activity, time with their people and alternate activities if their routines are disrupted.
Just like us, our pets have a circadian rhythm so there is an optimum time of day to engage in activity with them. Dogs have increased energy mid-morning or in the early evening. Cats are more active at dusk and dawn.
Make a list of what your dog/cat loves to do and keep necessary props available for those wet days.
What does your dog love to do?
- Toys: Stock up on new, favorite toys, but keep them hidden until those soggy days arrive. Use puzzle toys or toys that dispense treats.
- Games: Play hide and seek, “find it,” scent games, teach a new trick such as “say your prayers.”
- Kongs: Stuff with a mixture of wet dog food and dry food and put several Kongs in the freezer to save for rainy days. Cut back on your dog’s meal-time food if necessary.
What does your cat love to do?
- Toys: Does your cat like to play with the feathers of a wand toy, chase bottle caps? Play with a ping pong ball in a bathtub?
- Make your own unique toys and save them for those rainy days!
- Now is the time to bring out that enormous card board box you’ve been saving.
Here are some quick ideas to help your pet engage their brain and have fun.
Scent discrimination game for dogs
- Four socks, three clean and one that you have worn
Teaching the game:
- Tuck a treat into the toe of the worn sock
- Use tongs to place the clean socks on floor to avoid touching them too much
- Toss the worn sock into the pile of socks and tell your dog to get it
- The second she pauses to sniff the worn sock with the treat praise her, call her to you and give her a treat (not the one in the sock)
- Over time, reduce the size of the treat in the sock
- Stop placing treats in the sock all together once she’s reliably targeting the smelly sock
DIY cool cat cities
- Cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes
- Get creative and create adjoining “buildings” and tunnels for your cat to explore This is a great creative activity for kids too!
- Hide toys and treats inside to entice your cat to explore