Keep Your Pet Busy this Winter
FOR YOUR DOGS:
Typical enrichment activities like going for walks, hanging out at the dog park, or going on doggy play dates become limited when the temperature outside drops. Try some of these activities to keep your pup busy:
Sensory enrichment. This type of enrichment helps kick start all of your dog’s senses including sound, sight, smell, and touch.
- Playing classical music is a great way to stimulate your dog’s hearing.
- To stimulate his sense of smell, introduce your dog to new odors such as lavender, spices, or even a cat bed.
- Introduce your dog to new textures such as new brushes and bedding to boost his sense of touch.
Nutritional enrichment. This type of enrichment involves having your dog work for food rather than just diving into a bowl.
- Food puzzles are a great way to stimulate your dog’s brain while he is eating. If your dog has a habit of eating too fast, these bowls will also help in slowing his eating.
- Other forms of nutritional enrichment include treat-dispensing toys, like Kongs, which offer a solution to your dog’s boredom and “gulping” habits by keeping his jaw busy and his brain stimulated.
FOR YOUR CATS:
There are many forms of enrichment that can keep your cat entertained and active during the winter.
Physical enrichment and play-play time is critical for a cat’s well-being and reduces stress and frustration. The average adult cat needs about 30 minutes of play time daily. This can be broken into several short session instead of one long bout of play. At least half this time should be interactive play with a person. Kittens will generally play for 45-60 minutes a day and 5-10 minute increments are best for little ones.
Environmental enrichment. Cats need the opportunity to practice normal behavior in their home environment. Provide your cat with a variety of places to perch, hide, scratch, and climb. To prevent your cat from getting board, make sure there are options that vary in size, shape, color, and texture.
Sensory enrichment. This helps in kick starting all of your cat’s senses including sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch.
- To offer something fun for your cat to look at, set up a place for your cat to perch near a window and place bird feeders and plants outside to attract birds, butterflies, and bumble bees.
- Allow your cat to experience natural smells by bringing pet-friendly plants into the house, such as silver vine or lemon grass.
- Food puzzle toys aren’t just for dogs! Some puzzle toys approximate the normal hunting routine of the cat, catching a moving “prey” and then eating their prize. Others are stationary but still require problem solving and coordination to obtain the food.
- Providing your cat with a variety of surfaces to scratch and rub up on is great for their sense of touch.
Social enrichment. Although they come off a bit more coy than our canine friends, cats love to spend time with their humans. Make sure to set time aside each day to brush and pet your feline friend, maybe even work on a tricks or training!