Here are five vet-approved ways to beat the boredom this winter
Dark nights, wet weather, and chilly temperatures are sure signs that winter is well and truly upon us. When the weather turns, you might find your pet is less inclined to brave the outdoors – so how can we keep them entertained and ensure they get enough exercise during the colder months?
Nina Downing, vet nurse at the UK’s largest veterinary charity PDSA, has shared her five top tips for keeping your four-legged friend moving.
Nina said: “When pets don’t stay active, they are at risk of piling on extra pounds that could endanger their overall health – not to mention boredom, which can put them in mischief’s way! Luckily, there are lots of fun ways to keep furry friends entertained this winter, even on a rainy day.”
“This is a tried and tested favourite for any playful puss or pooch and is very easy to set up. All you need is a small towel or blanket, your pet’s normal dry food and a treat or two. Lay the material on the floor and scatter the food over the top. Then, roll the mat up, making sure the treats don’t fall out of either end. Now your pet can snuffle and sniff out their food, keeping their brain and nose active!
Practice training and agility
What better time to brush up on your pup’s obedience training than when you’re stuck inside? Whilst indoors you can teach your pup some new tricks or practice ones you both enjoy, using food or treats as a reward is a great way to keep them engaged and let them know they’ve mastered a trick. Another fun way to get them excited and build their fitness is to set up an indoor obstacle course. Whether it’s using chairs and a blanket to create a tunnel, a small foot stool for the perfect hurdle, or pairs of shoes for them to weave in and out of, the possibilities are endless and can provide furry and human family members alike hours of fun.
Hide and seek
A childhood classic, this game also helps to train your dog, as they become attuned to listening out, as well as sniffing around for you in order to find the location where you’re hiding. Ask your dog to sit and stay before moving around or leaving the room. At first, stand or crouch in more obvious places and call your pooch to come find you. Not only will they use their eyes, ears and nose to seek you out, they will also engage their brain and employ mental energy. As your dog becomes better at finding you, you can start to hide in more difficult places, like behind a door or curtain.
Toys, toys, and more toys
All pets have a preference for their favourite toy, whether that be a squeaky ball or teaser on a stick. Utilising items that encourage their natural instincts is a great way of keeping your pet entertained – just make sure you swap the toy every few days so they don’t get bored of it!
Homemade toys work just as well as those available in shops. You can create a teaser with strips of fabric from old clothes, blankets, or towels – simply tie them together at one end, leaving the rest to trail behind for your pet to chase. The same technique can be used to make a tug toy – just make sure to knot all the pieces together every few centimetres from end to end, as this will add strength and provide something that you and your pet can both grip.
Boxes are another favourite as they can be used in many ways, from making hidey holes through to creating tunnels. You could even cut out holes and connect several boxes together to create a maze for your pet to find their way through.
For more ideas on how to keep your pet entertained this winter, visit https://www.pdsa.org.uk/catexercise
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