As we sit, looking outside the window at today’s winter wonderland landscape, all I can think is “I reallyyyy don’t want to walk my dog right now”! I’m willing to bet that a fair percentage of our local dog parents are feeling about the same way…
Lucky for us, there are loads of ways to keep Fido entertained indoors today so we can stay toasty and warm, while also putting our brains into action. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about our kitty parents out there… there are SO many cheap, creative ways to entertain your cat on a day at home as well and we’ll tackle those tricks next week!
So, how do we entertain pups indoors on days when we just can’t make it outside for more than a potty break? Mental Enrichment! We’ll outline a few quick, easy ways to enrich your dog’s mental health without breaking the bank:
1. Food puzzles! If you trace a dog’s lineage wayyyyy back to the wolves, you’ll start to realize that dogs really weren’t created to be given a bowl of food. Dogs are designed to hunt and work for their food, and the process of doing so works their mental faculties. So, what better way to work those noggins than to give your dog the opportunity to work for their food. Food puzzles come in a bazillion different designs, concepts, materials, and levels of difficulty, so we would recommend starting small, and helping your dog work their way up to the toughest puzzle you can find!
2. Trick Training! Again, the goal of mental enrichment is to work your dog’s brain! What better way than to teach them something new. Working on trick training, or even spending some time reinforcing basic obedience is a great way to make your dog think and also help boost their confidence! Its amazing how quickly you’ll see your dog pick up new tricks when they have an incentivizing reward and an enthusiastic, consistent teacher!
3. Scent games! Have you heard that the portion of a dog’s brain that is dedicated to smelling is bout 40% larger than a human’s? Its time to work that brain! Start by placing a few empty boxes around the room, and put a stinky treat in one of them. When your dog finds the treat, they immediately get a reward! You can make the game increasingly more difficult by adding different varied scents, and switching up the boxes.
4. Play Date! Does your dog love playing with other pups? An inclement weather day is a great day to invite some dog friends over for a play date! Clear a room of all toys, add a few extra water bowls, and let dogs be dogs!
So there ya have it. A few quick and easy ways to entertain your dog (and yourself) when you just don’t have it in you to go outside! If you’d like more detailed instructions for any of the above suggestions, please feel free to let us know. Stay tuned for Cat Enrichment ideas next week!