As a loving pet parent, keeping your furbaby entertained and exercised is one of your many responsibilities. Many inexperienced pet owners don’t realize that mental and physical stimulation are extremely important aspects of their pet’s care and well-being.

Failing to receive enough of either can lead to your animal becoming bored, and unfortunately, boredom is often cited as one of the primary causes of behavioral problems in pets. Some of the undesirable behaviors exhibited by bored pets include scratching or damaging furniture, excessive vocalization (barking or loud meowing), attention-seeking, failing to use the bathroom outside, and more.

This time of the year in Indiana, it can be difficult to spend long periods of time exercising your pet outside. If you are stuck inside due to inclement weather, illness, or any other reason, it can be hard to think of ways to keep your pet’s boredom at bay and prevent undesirable behaviours from occurring. To help you out, College Park Pet Wellness Clinic has put together this helpful guide on how to keep your pet busy indoors during the winter months.

Play indoor games with your pet

Playing games is good for both the mental and physical stimulation of your pet, plus they give you plenty of opportunity to strengthen the bond between you.

There are a variety of different games that you can play inside your home. These include:

  • Hide & Seek. If you have already taught your dog how to stay, hide and seek is an easy and straightforward game to incorporate into your daily routine. Get your pet to stay in one position while you hide, then when you are ready, call him using a simple command. When he finds you, reward him with lots of praise and a small treat. Start off making your hiding places relatively simple to get him used to the idea, then progress to making your locations harder to find.
  • Find the treat. A good alternative to hide and seek is find the treat, particularly if you don’t have an apartment or house big enough for hiding in. Again, start off with the treats relatively easy to find. Dogs take a while to switch from relying on visual cues to tracking using scent. Over time you can make this game more challenging. You can even get toys that hold treats inside, making this game extra challenging.
  • Follow the laser beam. Cats have short attention spans for games, but simple games such as getting them to chase a laser beam or even a fluffy toy can help them to get the physical and mental stimulation that they need to prevent boredom. Play for up to 10 minutes several times a day for the biggest benefits.
  • Teach your pet some tricks. If you have some time on your hands, then why not consider teaching your pet some new tricks. Teaching your pet tricks can be very mentally stimulating for your pet, and it can also become a good way for owners give pets positive attention. Whether it is shaking hands or rollover, there are plenty of neat things that you can teach your pooch to do.

Get your pet an interactive toy

Many of us have increasingly busy lives and outside pressures that mean that we may not be around at home with our pet as much as we would like to be. Thankfully, there are now more pet toys than ever before, which can provide the stimulation and fun that is needed in our absence.

Some of the most popular toys among cats and dogs include:

  • Cat trees. These are perches rather than toys, but provide your kitty with the opportunity to climb safely and appropriately.
  • Toys with center compartments for treats. Many toys now have a section where treats can be hidden away. The design makes the treats difficult for your pet to get them out, and many pets will happily spend a long time trying to find a way to get to their favorite snacks.
  • Squeaky toys. If you have a canine best friend, you simply cannot beat a squeaky toy. Your furry pal will be intrigued by the noise and spend many minutes or hours trying to get to the source of the sound.
  • Tug-o-war toys. This is a great game for tiring out a pup who is filled with energy. However, you should remember that tug-o-war games can encourage your dog’s natural aggression, and so should only played with dogs who are usually placid and have no behavioral problems.

These are just some of the ways that you can keep your pet occupied indoors during the winter months. For further ideas or recommendations, ask fellow pet parents, or ask your vet at Pet Wellness Clinic during your next appointment.