7 Indoor Activities to Keep Your Pet Active This Winter
Let’s be honest, we all go into a bit of a hibernation mode during the winter. Even so, we need to make sure we stay active and the same goes for your pet. Here are some great ideas for those extra cold winter days when you just want to stay inside.
Name that toy.
Teach your pet the names of each of their toys. It starts with just one. For the first 3 days only play with one toy (ex. teddybear). Tell your pet to go get the teddybear, hide the teddybear, find the teddy bear, throw the teddybear, fetch the teddybear, clean up teddybear. Get it? Continuously use the name you want to associate with that toy and constantly play with that one toy so your pet’s focus is exclusively on that one item. Soon, even with other toys as a distraction your pet will know which one “teddybear” is and then you can move onto the next one you want to teach them.
Hide and seek.
Hide somewhere in your home with a treat or one of your pet’s toys and call them. Wait for them to find you and then reward them with laughs, smiles and of course, their treat or toy!
Find the treats.
Keep your pet in a corner facing the wall or in a different room. Grab a handful of treats or a few pieces of their dry food and hide them in areas that are easily enough to access for your pet but not too obvious. When you are done hiding the treats, call them in. Find it! At first you may need to help guide them to your hiding places but you will quickly see their searching skills improve and their enthusiasm for the game increase!
Need help keeping your home tidy? Get your pet to help! While holding your hand out over your pet’s toy bin, ask them to bring you a toy. As they are about to put it in your hand, move your hand away so that the toy falls into the toy bin. GOOD BOY (or girl) CLEAN UP. Do this for a few minutes a day until they associate them dropping the toy into the toy bin to the commande CLEAN UP or whatever words you choose to teach them. As always with pet training, be consistent.
A classic magic trick, reinvented. Get at least 3 cups. Plastic is preferable so they don’t break. Get your pet to sit in front of you. Get on the floor and flip all of the cups upside down. Put a single treat under only one of the cups, let your pet see which one you put it under. Scramble up the cups and let your pet guess which one the treat is hiding under. Did they guess right? Give them the treat! Wrong? Try again!
Set up an obstacle course.
Use different items and different pieces of furniture around your home to set up an obstacle course for your pet. Start with a pretty open space, hallways work great! Set up different things for your pet to walk on, jump over, crouch under and walk around and then lead them through the course you set up with treats. Even walking from a large cushion onto an exercise mat, under a broom handle, around the cup and up the stairs will help your pet use different muscles that they may not be using just hanging around the house and sniffing around the backyard. Also, by learning to follow your commands (jump, up, over, around), your pet is connecting with you and its mind is stimulating by learning new things.
There are so many great interactive toys out there for your pet to keep their minds stimulated. They say that 15 minutes of mental play is equivalent to one hour of physical play. Here are some of our favourite interactive toys:
The Snuffle Mat.
Sold at the SPCA West, the Snuffle mat is an enrichment game for dogs and other pets. They must work to get their treats or even their kibble.
In addition to mental stimulation for your dog, this mat allows him to use his sense of smell, it’s a great way to prevent anxiety disorders, the destruction of objects or furniture as well as to fight the boredom indoors during the winter.
Kongs are pet toys that have been around forever! They are durable, non-toxic and fantastic ways to keep your pet busy for quite a while! Stuff the Kong with treats, peanut butter or other suggested Kong-specific recipes and let them at it! Kongs are designed to provide your pet with a challenge to get to their treats all while stimulating their senses.
Puzzle games are toys designed to hide treats in. Unlike a simple Kong, these puzzles are designed with different knobs, flaps, compartiments that your pet really has to work at to discover. Designed with different levels of difficulty, these pet puzzles provide your pet with hours of indoor fun.