Are winter blues getting to you? You’re not alone. If you and your pet are normally lively and active but have been lethargic and blue lately, it could be seasonal depression. Seasonal depression can affect how you feel both physically and mentally– for both you and your pup. Recent studies have shown that pets can be impacted by SAD just like us humans. Some ways to fight SAD for you and your pet include:
- Letting the sunlight in
- Get fresh air
- Bring in pet-safe plants
- Get light exercise (indoor or outdoor)
For those of us that live in areas that have inclement weather for most of the winter, getting exercise outside can be difficult. Even a simple walk around the block can become cumbersome with salty sidewalks and icy streets. If you’re struggling to keep spirits high, here are 5 fun indoor ideas to keep your pet engaged during the bad weather of the winter season.
Benefits of Keeping Your Dog Busy
What’s the point of keeping your dog busy during the day? Napping all day sounds and looks pretty good to us! For older dogs, this may be true. Sleeping and the occasional ball throw may be enough to keep them occupied and happy during the winter. However, for younger dogs, and even older dogs, keeping your dog busy can have immense benefits on their mental and physical health. Some quick benefits of keeping your dog busy include:
Keeping your dog out of trouble
Bored dogs usually end up in trouble. Seeking out activity and stimulation through naughty activities like trash sleuthing or chewing can put them in the dog house (literally).
Keeps them mentally engaged
Dogs, both young and old, like being mentally stimulated. Whether that’s through training activities, puzzles, or toys, your dog is seeking stimulation. Mental stimulation can keep them from becoming bored, depressed, or in trouble.
Keeps you on task
As most of us now know, working with our pets at home is both the best and worst thing. It’s great because, well, they’re adorable. It’s the worst because, well, they’re adorable and it’s hard to not want to spend all day cuddling with them. Keeping your pet occupied helps you stay on task so that you can get your important work done faster so you two can get back to cuddling.
Your dog has an innate desire to forage. You may notice this most often when they are “searching for monsters” before bed. It’s their deep-seated instinct to forage and protect their surroundings. While the scariest monster that exists in their world might be the vacuum and the only thing they forage for now are your favorite shoes to chew on, that desire still exists. Snuffle mats help itch that scratch to be a “wild dog.” Snuffle mats are simple fabric mats that create hidden nooks and crannies for treats and kibbles to be hidden. They allow your pet to exercise their foraging instinct and nose work. It’s also pretty adorable to watch.
Stuffed Kong Toy
You know how when you’re bored you like to chew on a piece of gum, have a snack, or suck on some hard candy? It stimulates both your brain and your other senses and can make you feel less anxious and more engaged. Stuffed Kong toys are the doggy equivalent of a lollipop or a piece of gum. Stuffed Kong toys help to mentally stimulate your pet, relieve excess energy, and frankly, they’re tasty. If your dog is known to suffer from separation anxiety, stuffed Kong toys can provide a source of entertainment and an outlet to relieve some of that anxious energy they are experiencing.
Play Which Hand Game
Silly but so simple, the Which Hand Game is an activity that you and your pet can participate in together. It is as simple as the name implies, simply put a treat in your hand, close your hands, and let your pet guess which hand the treat is in. Make it even more engaging for your pet by putting the treats behind your back and switching them around before revealing your closed hands for your pet to guess which hand the treat is in.
Would you believe us if we told you that your pet likes to solve problems? Your dog is an intelligent problem solver and if they aren’t able to exercise that problem-solving ability, they are liable to get into trouble. Doggy puzzles give them both a task and a problem to solve. This can be something interactive like tug of war or a specific puzzle designed specifically for dogs. Another dog puzzle idea is to hide treats around the house. Your dog will love spending the next hour searching for all of the hidden treats.
Give Your Pooch a Massage
Did you know your pet gets sore and achy just like you? Especially older dogs who are dealing with old, arthritic joints. Taking a few minutes out of your day a few times a week to give your pup a nice little massage is an extra special treat you both will love. Petting your dog releases serotonin and makes both of you feel good. Just don’t forget to schedule a massage for yourself too.