Indoor activities for your pets during the winter months
by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society | General Pet Care | February 6, 2023
The winter can often mean more time spent indoors for us and for our furry family members. There are many benefits to spending time indoors with your animals such as bonding and being in a comfortable, supervised space. We’ve put together a few activities that you can do at home to keep your furry friend engaged and active this winter season.
Below are some fun activities you can do with your furry friend inside your house.
Activities for cats
Giving your cat a vantage point to enjoy what is going on outside can be a great way to provide enrichment. Having a window that is clear of other objects and completely secure can give your cat a special spot to watch the squirrels and birds all day long.
Cats also enjoy exploring new objects. There are a multitude of different objects within your house that you can lay out for your cat to explore. Some suggestions include a cardboard box, wrapping paper, or paper shopping bags. Another great object is a faucet left on at a slow drip for a short period of time. Think outside the box and be creative, but make sure you are supervising your cat around new objects to ensure they are safe.
You could also try training your cat new tricks. Much like dogs, cats can be trained using food rewards or their favourite toy. Check out some great tips here: How to clicker train your cat.
For more on toy enrichment in your cat’s life, check out our blog, why your animal needs toy enrichment.
Activities for dogs
Hide and seek
This is a fun game that can keep your dog and your kids entertained! It will also provide good practice for basic cues like sit, come and stay/wait. The idea of the game is to have your dog wait in one room, while you go hide in a simple spot. Once hidden, you will call your dog and they can come find you. Once they find you, reward them with a treat or praise.
Remember to change the game as needed to meet your dog’s skill level so you can keep it fun. If your dog does not have strong “wait” skills, you can have someone else hold the dog on a leash while you hide. Don’t forget to reward the dog for waiting patiently. If your dog has never played this game before, start off slow by just stepping around the corner and work up to other rooms.
Puzzle games and treat dispensing toys are another great way to entertain your dog. If you don’t have any of these at home or want to switch things up, try making your own. Even a muffin tin and some tennis balls can be used to make a puzzle game. Simply place some kibble or treats in a few of the cups of the muffin tin, then cover all the cups with a tennis ball and let your dog search for the food. You can also play the shell game with your dog using three cups and a treat. Place the treat under one of the cups and shift the cups around a couple of times. Then let your dog find the cup with the treat under it.
You can also try making a DIY food puzzle for your cat.
Teach a new skill
Teaching a new skill or strengthening an existing one is another great way to mentally stimulate your dog. Try teaching your dog to go to their bed on cue or clean up their own toys. Another great skill to brush up on is loose–leash walking. If your dog struggles on walks, practicing inside with minimal distractions is a great first step to get things back on track.
To start, use a hands-free leash (or a leash attached to a belt) while doing daily tasks like tidying up. Move in different directions and reward your dog when they follow you with treats, praise or a favourite toy. You can use verbal cues like “come” or their name if they don’t understand at first. Over time, change your pace and add in more distractions to challenge your dog.
If you have a new puppy at home, make sure to check out Tips for new puppy parents.
We hope you found this information helpful! Make sure to check out our social pages; Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see how the animals in our centres are staying occupied and having fun. We’re also sharing tips for indoor activities, enrichment, and more!
Thank you for looking after these animals
Thank you for looking after these animals — I would love to have them all in my house!