The new year is the perfect time to improve your and your pet’s health. Whether you have a cat or a dog, they can benefit from mental and physical exercise just like us. We all fall off the bandwagon at some point. Remember that even small amounts of exercise and stimulation are beneficial so don’t get discouraged if you start slacking some.
The winter season can make getting in exercise even more difficult, especially when there is snow on the ground. Here are some winter-friendly activities that you can do with your pup (and possibly your kitty):
Keep your pet’s mind busy
Puzzle toys and activities are great ways to stimulate your pet’s mind and keep them entertained. There are many different kinds that you can purchase online or at the pet store. These range from toys that require certain movements to release treats to ones that make your pet hunt for the treats.
There are also tons of DIY options. Remember to keep an eye on your pet the first time you give them a new toy to make sure that they aren’t going to rip it apart and eat it. Also, be aware that not all of the DIY suggestions are appropriate for all dogs. If your dog likes to ingest toys, stuffing, socks, underwear, etc. do not give them a puzzle toy that involves these items.
Learning new tricks and skills helps to challenge your pet and gets both you and them moving. From a simple ‘sit’ to the more complicated ‘play dead’, your pet will enjoy learning a new skill. Scent tracking is a skill that you can encourage in your own home as most pets really want to find that treat! These activities also help to strengthen you and your pet’s bond, and they always love pleasing you!
If you think that your pet needs more help, obedience classes are a great place to start. There are even advanced classes that help you teach the more complicated and involved tricks such as hide-and-seek.
Get moving with your pet
Doggy yoga is a fantastic way to strengthen you and your pup’s bodies while building your bond. There are classes available, but you and your pup can benefit from this exercise at home as well. Learn more about doggy yoga in Rover.com’s article. Remember not to force your pup as this could result in injury.Dancing around your house is always a fun form of exercise. Including your pet (cat or dog) makes it that much more fun! Many dogs become excited when you start jumping and swinging to the beat, so include them in whatever way they are comfortable. Some dogs enjoy standing on their back feet and moving with you. Some prefer to be held. Some simply want to bounce around next to you. Figure out what your pet enjoys and rock on!
Go for a walk, run, or hike when the weather is nice. Even if it’s a short walk around the block it’s exercise for both you and your pup. Remember to protect your pup’s feet from getting cold and chemicals. Booties are a great way to prevent road salt from causing damage and they help to keep your pup’s feet warm. If your dog has a short coat, we recommend a sweater or jacket to help them maintain their temperature.
Get out of the house with your pet
Visiting pet-friendly stores help reduce cabin fever. Take your pup and get out of the house for a bit at some pet-friendly stores. These stores help to provide socialization and stimulation. Lowe’s and Home Depot are super pet-friendly, and the employees love to interact with customer’s pets. Walk around and get some home improvement ideas or price out your next DIY project with your pet.
Pet supply stores are also welcoming to pets. Take them with you when you need some supplies or simply enjoy a stroll around your local store. Let your pup pick out a new toy or treat. Make some new friends and beat the cabin fever feeling!
Since there are no vaccination requirements, remember to have all of your pet’s vaccinations up to date to help prevent any illnesses. Contact your primary veterinarian and read the ASPCA’s article for more information on what the recommended core vaccinations are and if your pup is covered.
Puppy play dates are a fantastic way to get your pup exercise and socialization. Whether you arrange a play date with friends and family or find a meet-up group, giving your pup a chance to get crazy will help them enjoy your downtime. Some obedience schools, boarding facilities, and rescue groups regularly arrange such play dates.
Again, remember to check your pup’s vaccination status to help keep them safe and never take a sick or injured pet to a play date. When they aren’t feeling their best, there is an increased chance of conflict due to their discomfort.
The Royal Vista Vet family wishes everyone a happy and healthy New Year!