Tuesday, January 5, 2010
By Julia Williams
If you live in a frigid winter climate like I do now, you’re probably getting pretty tired of the cold and the snow. I know I am. I started dreaming of warm spring days in early November, and I think my cats did too. We’re used to mild California winters, where spending time outdoors in December is a pleasant experience. Not so these Montana winters!
So how do we keep our pets entertained when being outdoors seems more foolhardy than fun? Play games indoors! There are lots of indoor games you can play with your dog or cat that can help them burn off some energy and keep them stimulated. In addition to alleviating boredom, playing games with your pet can deepen your bond.
Indoor Games to Play With Dogs
Hide And Seek: Yes, the classic game that all children love is a blast for dogs too. Sneak away from your dog and go find a good hiding spot in your home. Once hidden, call your dog and stay there until they “discover” you (and perhaps get a tasty dog treat as their reward).
Find The Treat: This game entails hiding a biscuit or other treat somewhere in your home, and then asking your dog to find it. You’ll need to show your dog how this game works the first few times, but soon they’ll be sniffing out the treat on their own.
Dog Sports: Soccer balls and basketballs are ideal for some sporty fun indoors with your four-legged friend. Roll the ball, and encourage your dog to push it along with their nose or paws. Most dogs quickly comprehend that the object of the game is to roll the ball to you.
Indoor Agility: If you have a big basement or a large playroom, you can set up a mini agility course for your dog. Who knows, you might both enjoy this so much that, come spring, you decide to take up this wonderful outdoor dog sport!
Bubble Chase: You’ll need a lot of space for this great energy-burning game as well. However, leaping and pouncing at bacon-scented bubbles is something that every dog enjoys.
Teach A Trick: Cold winter days are the perfect time to teach your dog a new trick or two – indoors where it’s cozy and warm, of course. Although not exactly a “game,” teaching your dog tricks is a lot of fun and very rewarding.
Indoor Games to Play With Cats
Kitty Whack-a-Mouse: A youtube video inspired me to make one of these fun games for my cats. It’s basically a feline version of the classic Whack-a-Mole found at every carnival. You remember that game, right? To make one for your cats, take an extra large box and cut some holes in the bottom panel, big enough for you to fit your hand through. Put the box on its side and call your cat over to it. Stick a furry mouse cat toy through one of the holes, wiggling it to entice them to grab it. (Wear a thick glove or an oven mitt to protect your hand). Try to pull it back before your cat can get the toy, and immediately stick it out another hole. This game will entertain you, your cat and anyone watching.
Interactive Toys: you can buy a wide variety of cat toys designed for you and your kitty to play together. At the dollar store, I found a furry mouse on a string that was attached to a long wand. I bought a dozen because I was sure that the game of “chase the mouse” would go over well at my house, and it did. Another feline favorite is the “fishing pole” with feathers or a soft toy on the end.
Stairway Ball Toss: I play this energy-burning game with my friend’s kitten who loves to chase things. I throw a small cat toy ball up the stairs and she runs up after it. When she bats at the ball it rolls down the stairs, and she chases it all the way to the bottom.
With a little imagination, there’s virtually no end to the indoor games you can invent to play with your pets. I hope these suggestions inspire you, and help you to entertain your pets during the dead of winter.
Read more articles by Julia Williams