Winter is by far the most boring time of year to be a pet. Between the shorter days and weather-woes, your dog or cat is likely experiencing wintertime blues. While boredom isn’t the worst problem a pet can experience, it can lead to depression, weight gain, anxiety, and increased dementia symptoms for senior pets. So, how can you provide your pet with much-needed mental stimulation even if you cannot go outside?

1. Invest in New Toys and Accessories

Whether you have a puppy, an adult cat, or a senior dog, new toys can entice a pet to play. Even if your pet isn’t the most playful, a new toy will give them a reason to get, sniff, taste, and paw at the new object. 

Puzzle toys that use treats as a means of pet motivation are also a wonderful way to encourage your pet to interact and exercise. 

For cats, we recommend The Egg-Cersizer.

For dogs, try the Kong Biscuit Ball. Get your dog’s heart rate up just a bit more by playing indoor fetch with this one.

2. Work on New Tricks and Training

Winter is a great time to reinforce old tricks and teach your pet some new ones. Spend some time working on the basics or work to replace bad behaviors with better ones. 

For separation anxiety, work towards desensitizing your dog in small steps. Begin where your dog first starts to show signs of distress. If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, it’s a great time to make an appointment to see how we can support you and your pup as you work to recondition your dog. 

Teach your cat to sit.

Or work on stay with your dog.

3. Invite a Playmate Over for a Play Date

The dog park isn’t the best place this time of year. And while this may not work for all cats, most dogs love puppy play dates. Ask a friend to bring over their dog. Your puppers will tire themselves out quickly as they greet one another, sniff each other, play, and interact.

4. Indoor Hide-n-Seek

Is your pet a velcro dog or a clingy cat? Get them up and moving by relocating throughout the house. They’ll burn some calories as they try to find you and the change in scenery is a great way to engage their minds. 

You can even turn this into a game of chase for your dog. When your dog sniffs you out, make a dash for the door and your dog will likely pick up the pace. If running doesn’t sound fun, ask one of your kids to partake–they could probably use something to do, too!

5. Scent Games

Dogs and cats have powerful sniffers. Scent games are an excellent way to put those adorable noses to work. Hide treats throughout a room or the house and watch your pet locate them using their nose! 

As your pet becomes more and more attuned to finding hidden treats, increase the difficulty by placing treats high and low, and more difficult to access areas like in a box with blankets or packing peanuts.

Keep Your Pet’s Mind Sharp and Active

As winter wears on, it’s important to keep your pet mentally engaged. Winter will pass quicker and you will find your pet feels their best when they’re able to partake in mental exercises. If you have questions regarding your pet’s mental health, make an appointment or give us a call today at 651-202-3388.

Image credit:  Breanne Sartori | Pexels