Winter weather can limit activity for both you and your pet, and this can lead to boredom and sometimes unwanted behaviors. Have no fear though, I have a few tips and ideas to keep your pet’s mind active when their body can’t be.
I don’t know about you, but cold weather is not my favorite weather to be out in, and this in turn limits my dog’s ability to get out and burn off some energy. Thankfully, while his outdoor time is limited, I can keep him busy with brain games and indoor activities. A busy mind can burn as much energy as an outdoor play session, and doesn’t take a ton of work on your part to create activities to keep your fur baby’s brain occupied. Here are a few of our favorite enrichment activities from the team at Summer Creek Animal Clinic.
Homemade Snuffle Mat:
You can easily make a homemade snuffle mat with a large blanket, or a quick search on pinterest for a DIY project such as this one to make your own at home. Bunching up a blanket and hiding treats or food within the folds can keep their brains busy for quite a while depending on the amount of kibble or treats you hide inside.
The Ever Faithful Kong:
Filling a kong with dog safe snacks can help keep them busy and help them problem solve how to get to the goodies. Don’t have a kong? No worries, a bowl can work just as well. Spreading the treats around the edges of the bowl, adding in some low sodium broth, then freezing, is a perfectly good substitute. Here’s a tiktok link to our technician London’s favorite recipe.
Similar to a snuffle mat, you can get a rag or towel, lay treats in rows and make a treat roulade to keep your fur baby busy hunting down the snacks while you wrap up a couple chores. This easy to make activity doesn’t require any extra effort on your part, and can be put together in just a couple minutes. The more rolls you create the more entertainment for your doggo.
Also known as a busy box, this easy to make enrichment activity requires little effort to make. All you need is a cardboard box, your pets favorite toys, and some treats and kibble. Fill the box with your dog's favorite toys, toss in some treats to help elevate their interest, and let them tear into it, literally.
Store Bought Puzzles:
Pet stores and amazon all have some really great pet puzzles available that make hiding treats a breeze. Every puzzle is different, and the "difficulty" levels can vary. For a first time puzzle user, and low difficulty level may be best, but for those super smellers you might need a more difficult puzzle to keep them challenged and entertained for a longer period of time.
Hopefully these activities will provide you and your dog with plenty to keep them busy and entertained while burning off some extra energy through the winter months. If they seem less entertained after participating in an activity over a period of time, increase the difficulty level. For more ideas visit the Fear Free Happy Homes site and take a look at their Enrichment and Activities page.