Many of us naturally slip into a slower routine this time of year. It starts out with an occasional excuse not to go for a run or bike ride. Before long, weeks can go by without any real physical activity. While this change can definitely be a part of a normal winter, don’t let the opportunity to play with your pet pass you by. They not only need daily exercise, they love focused attention. Our tips and tricks for indoor pet activities this winter aim to boost your pet’s physical and mental wellness (and you might like them, too!).
Pets are creatures of habit. Not only do they like anticipating upcoming events, but they absolutely rely on certain things happening at specific times. Take, for instance, mealtimes and bathroom breaks. They also know if their play or exercise time is near. You might notice an eager look in their eyes, pacing, or whining.
Without daily exercise, a pet may become bored, lethargic, and even prone to destructive behavior like chewing, digging, or going potty inside the home. These behaviors are all preventable with a bit of focused time and attention on their physical and mental needs.
Tug, Chase, Fetch
With the goal of getting your pet to move around as much as possible, lean into the basics. Fetch is one of the best games for pets and people alike, probably because it is so simple. Did you know that many cats enjoy this game, as well? Dip a mouse toy in a bag of dried catnip and sit back to enjoy the show.
Tug is another great option, and all it takes is a soft rope toy. While many dogs want to grab the rope between their jaws as hard as they can to get you to release it, encourage a little skill building. Teach commands like “give” or “be gentle” to instill the skill of soft play. While rowdiness isn’t bad, it’s important that dogs know how to distinguish the difference.
A simple laser toy can keep cats engaged and active. If you have platforms or climbing structures for them, shine the laser up high so they can get more of a workout.
If it gets too chilly this winter for outside fun, an indoor obstacle course might be a great alternative. Teach your pet jumps by setting up a rod over two stacks of baskets. Cones can be used for training them to weave, and a tunnel can provide an excellent addition to the course. Large cardboard boxes can be used to create walls.
Hand signals can help direct your pet, but a clicker can work well, too. Lots of praise and rewards can keep a pet’s interest going. If they get bored or tired, switch up the order of the course or give them a break.
Winter Pet Activities
If you decide to head outside with your pet, be sure they are warm enough. Plenty of fresh water can help restore depleted energy levels, and insulating clothing can keep them going.