Unless you are fortunate enough to live in a climate that’s warm all year, you might be wondering what activities you can do with your pet during the colder months. These activities can keep your pets exercised and stimulated during inclement weather.
1. Walk with a friend
With the colder weather, a faster paced walk can have an impact on your pets activity levels, while shortening the length of time outdoors. If it is too cold outside you may have to skip the walk that day, but if the weather is tolerable your pet will likely enjoy the fresh air. Even if it is brief! When walking with your dog, dress him warmly and comfortably. Have him wear a sweater, especially if he has a short coat, is young and is low to the ground. You can also try boots to protect your pet’s pads. Boots can also be useful for dogs that have longer fur between their toes where salt or snowball may accumulate in the fur. Some dogs will be more sensitive to the cold than others, so be sure to dress them appropriately – for example, a Husky is not likely to need a coat or sweater, but a Chihuahua will.
2. Introduce new toys
Introduce the holiday toys that you bought for your pet strategically during the winter season. When you bring a new toy home, don’t have it compete for attention with other toys. Each toy should have a “Grand Opening.” Put your pet’s other toys away so that your pet is focused on the new play object. In addition, bring out the toy when your pet’s feeling more energetic because they will be more receptive to playing with a new item. If your pet has access to all of their toys at all times, they can become bored or uninterested in using them. Taking them out only during specific play periods can help minimize this.
3. Take a training class
Lack of exercise during the winter months can lead to behavioural problems such as chewing, barking, or other unwanted behaviour. If you haven’t taken a training class with your dog, the winter months can be an optimal time to do so. Your dog will burn mental and physical energy as well as receive stimulation from being around other dogs. Depending on your interest and your dog’s obedience level, take advanced dog training or an agility class.
4. Take an outing
Dogs always enjoy an outing. Take your dogs to an outdoor market, pet store or pet expo. Your dog will revel in the attention of the other shoppers, and perhaps to occasional treat from other vendors. Just make sure they don’t eat too much and protect their paws if there is salt on the ground.
5. Use foraging toys
Foraging Toys are the best way to satisfy a pet’s natural urge to hunt, chew and play. These toys come in all shapes and sizes, and pets of all ages will benefit from the use of foraging toys. Try feeding one of your pet’s meals in a foraging toy (such as a Tricky-treat ball). Your pet will enjoy the extra stimulation required to hunt for their meal. Always be sure to supervise pets when introducing new toys, to ensure they are using them correctly & safely.
It can be difficult to get your cat used to some toys. Take advantage of your cat’s instinctive hunting urges. Wild cats tend to hunt at dawn & dusk. This behaviour will still be ingrained in your cat, so offer foraging toys during these times to maximize the chances of them using them.
6. Participate in store activities
Whether Santa is coming for pictures or there is a fashion show in which you strut for your stuff, take him to your local pet store and let him participate. Both of you can meet new friends and have loads of fun. Don’t forget to bring your camera so you can capture the memories.
7. Teach your dog some tricks
According to author Jean Fogle in her book, Tricks for Treats (Simple Solutions) Bowtie (2010), trick training builds brain power. The author also notes that taught in short sessions, trick training teaches your dog to think, puzzle out solutions and enjoy time with you. Teach your pet a few tricks a week. Right before dinner is the best time so they will perform for their meal. Remember to use healthy, low calorie treats when training to ensure your pet does not start to gain weight.
8. Take advantage of dog day care
Most doggy day cares will allow your dog to spend full days or a few hours. There, he will enjoy making friends with other dogs and playing with toys. Sending your pooch to dog day care is a great alternative if you have a dog like a Border Collie, Vizla or working breed or a high energy dog.
9. Have a play date
Play dates aren’t just for kids. If your pet has a favorite canine friend then why not invite them over to play indoors? Make sure the dog invited over is house broken, you have plenty of room, there is an equal amount of toys and treats and both pet parents are taking part in the canine supervision. Additionally, remember the golden rule: if your dog breaks or pees on it, be prepared to pay for it.
10. Indoor Games
Indoor games can be just as fun as outdoor games. Play Hide-and –Seek by taking your pet’s favorite toys and/or treats and hiding them around the house. Put your pet in a stay position (or just put her in another room while you hide the treats), then tell her to go find it. She’ll have fun searching the house and it might even occupy her for hours. And, if your dog likes to chase the ball, they will love to fetch as a training game. Have them “Sit,” to begin, “Stay,” while you throw it, “Fetch” the ball and then “Drop it” to start again. Additionally, an obstacle course can also give you and your dog both a real physical work-out.
With all these ideas, how can you and Fido be bored this winter?
Thickson Road Pet Hospital, Whitby.