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Indoor enrichment for pets in the winter

In the winter, families tend to spend a little more time indoors, away from the cold – but what does this mean for our furry friends?

Bored pets can get into some serious mischief, especially dogs who are used to being outdoors and getting a lot of exercise! By playing with our pets and engaging them in mental exercise, we can decrease the likelihood of destructive habits like chewing, scratching, and barking.

Keeping your dog entertained indoors can be a challenge, so check out these fun ideas for indoor activities:

Stuff a toy with treats

A simple and effective way to keep your dog busy indoors is to put treats inside a toy for them to get out! For dogs, try stuffing a Kong or similar toy with wet dog food or treats.

There are also many types of “puzzle” toys available at pet stores that have a variety of compartments that pets need to slide or flip open in order to get at their hidden treats!

Nose work games

Nose work games are an easy way to encourage mental exercise – and reward your pet for it!

Have your dog sit and stay while you place treats around your home, then give them a release word and watch them race around to find them! To start out, your dog could be watching you “hide” them, but as they get used to the game, owners can have them sit and stay in a separate room while the treats are hidden to increase the difficulty level. This is a very mentally stimulating game, and can really tire your pup out!

Owners can also try hiding a treat in one hand behind your back, then have your dog choose which hand they think the treat is in with their paw. Another nose work game would be to have three plastic cups upside down on a table, hide a treat under one, then swap them around before asking your dog to indicate which cup hides the treat.

Hide and Seek

Just like you would play with your human friends, hide and seek can be played with your dog! Have your dog sit and stay in one room, then hide somewhere in the house. Shout a release word, then wait for your dog to find you! Be sure to reward them with lots of excitement and treats for finding you!

Indoor games

There are a variety of games owners can play with their pets, and by making some small changes they can be played safely indoors. Examples include moving some furniture in the living room to make room for a game of tug-of-war, or playing fetch down a hallway with a lightweight ball.

Teach your dog a new trick

Learning new tricks can be very mentally tiring for your furry friends! Try teaching your dog to roll over, sit pretty, or “play dead,” and be sure to give them lots of rewards. Owners can also try teaching their dogs the names of their toys, then have them go and fetch them from around the house.

Enrichment for indoor cats

Cats can also become bored inside all day, and there are many ways owners can add enrichment to their lives to help keep them healthy and happy!

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Stuff a toy with treats

Cats are hunters by nature, so allowing them to work for their food is very engaging for them! Owners can use rolling treat balls and treat puzzles, but can also make their own!

For example, put treats inside a toilet paper roll, cover the ends or crush the cardboard together, then punch some holes into the cardboard to allow the treats to fall out.

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Interactive toys

Cats love to chase, so using items like laser pointers or feather wands can help them get more exercise indoors. Some app makers have also designed interactive mobile games just for cats!

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Window perches or Cat Towers

Cats also love to be able to survey their domain, so giving them some high up places to perch allows them do so so and also increases their exercise level. Window ledges, window hammocks, and cat towers are all great places for cats to enjoy.

<who>Photo Credit: BC SPCA</who>

Winter is the time of year that most of us like to snuggle into the couch and watch our favourite shows, but let’s not forget to keep our furry friends entertained too!

Pets First with Fairfield Animal Hospital offers monthly tips and information for pet owners in the Okanagan so that we can all stay safe and have fun with our furry friends in this beautiful valley! Fairfield Animal Hospital offers high-quality, compassionate care for your feline and canine companions.

For more information, please visit our website and Facebook page.

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