Temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark and it's dark by the time you get home in the evening....the dog has chewed through another pair of your best shoes....the cat hasn't budged from the couch in 10 hours.....
The worst of winter is now before us and we need a plan!
Sure, it's nice to just cuddle up next to Kitty on that couch with a cup of cocoa, but these tips will help ensure that your pets stay active this winter instead of becoming sluggish and bored.
1) Food ball or treat dispenser: These are great little gadgets that force our pets to use their heads to figure out how to get to their daily meal. Instead of taking their favorite part of the day and simply handing it out in their dish, putting their meal into a food ball will allow your pet to get creative in manipulating the ball to earn each kibble.
2) Bird feeder or fish aquarium: Kitty is a ferocious hunter....or, well...she would like to think so, anyway. Many cats get hours of entertainment watching birds outside the window or fish swimming in an aquarium.
3) Obstacle course: Set up a simple obstacle course for your dog using things around the house. Use a broomstick, for example, as a jump to send her over when fetching the tennis ball down the hallway. This will make it more fun for both of you and help to burn more calories.
4) Interactive cat toys: Send kitty running up the stairs, jumping up the wall, or climbing over the couch with a laser pointer or feathers attached to a string.
5) Hide and seek: This is fun to incorporate into your flat game of fetch. Before your dog returns to you, hide around the corner and see if he can find you. Start out easy and give him lots of praise when he finds you to make this exciting for him.
6) Indoor kitty garden: Catnip can be grown inside for your cat to munch on during the winter to give him a lift and remind him of spring. This is often sold at pet stores.
7) Get out of the house: Your dog may enjoy a car trip - try an obedience or agility class, let her pick out a treat at the pet store, or consider volunteering with her at a local nursing home.
8) Boxes and bags: Use empty paper bags and boxes to create new places for your cat to explore. Try stacking them to build a kitty condo. Add a little cat nip and some toys for a real adventure.
9) Tricks: Both dogs and cats can learn new tricks if you have a little patience and great-smelling treats. Start simple and be consistent. Reward the behavior that you want repeated, then start adding the command. Be creative and soon you'll be ready to show her off to your friends.
10) Treasure hunt: Your dog can learn the command "Find it" to find a special treat or toy. Start very simply by leaving the treat across the room and guiding him to it. Once he catches on, make it a little more challenging by hiding it in increasingly difficult places. Kitty can play, too! Just sprinkle some of his food along his daily paths for him to find. If done frequently, he will learn to be on the hunt for it.
And, of course, save lots of time for cuddling....so grab that cup of cocoa and head to the couch. Your pets will love spending time with you regardless of the activity!