Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter need not be a time of boredom for your dogs — use a life hack for indoor enrichment and fun

Enrichment and playtime is crucial for pets, but during these colder months, it can be a challenge to keep our canine friends occupied. Indoor games can be devised or purchased, but having as many ideas on hand is surely helpful to both dogs and humans. 

I'm always looking for fun ideas to employ with my charges and my now-15 year old pooch, Gretchen, (who cannot play games like fetch as well, due to arthritis) no matter the weather, and one came my way this week by way of a friend, Mary Bilyeu who lives in Toledo.

Food puzzles are a great way to engage a dog's mind as well as their body, and although there are plenty on the market, they can be pricey. Understandably, that can make buying them prohibitive for some families, but it doesn't mean that a dog needs to miss out on some serious fun. Why not make a food puzzle?

I'm a fan of putting resources where are they are most needed in the household, so whenever I can upcycle, recycle or repurpose an item (click here for a recent pet-related life hack), I'm there!

There are tons of things that you can use to create a foraging toy or food puzzle for your furry friend, whether it's an empty cardboard box or plastic water bottle with some holes cut out to allow kibble to drop out as the item is batted or tossed around, but this new idea incorporates more sensory fun.

The Lucas County Canine Care & Control suggests taking an ordinary household item — a clean muffin tin — adding a few yummy treats or kibble to each cup, and then cover each with tennis ball. The lucky pup needs to pick up the tennis balls to get to the edible rewards, and once they've finished, it's likely they'll direct their attention to 6 or more tennis balls strewn about the room. (Squeaky tennis balls would undoubtedly add more fun.)

Also, you might consider saving any fast food drink carriers the next time you head out for a quick bite from your favorite haunt: they are just as useful, and can be equally enjoyable to a dog to tear up after.

Watch the video below to see some adoptable dogs from LCCCC in action with this nifty item.

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

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