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By Laurel B. CVT

Living here in the great winter state of Minnesota, cabin fever is bound to set in. While you can get out of the house and go to the movies, grocery store or other shopping trip, your furry family members are left at home, possibly getting into mischief due to boredom and lack of activity.

The solution? GET UP AND GET MOVING!!

For our dog family:

  • Go to the dog park.
  • Find an indoor play group at one of the many doggy daycares.
  • Use that State Park Sticker-many of our State Parks are open during the winter and have groomed trails, as well as rent snow shoes.
  • Take a trip to the pet store, and let your dog pick a new toy.
  • Teach that “old” dog a new trick; make sure to use POSITIVE reinforcement.
  • Make a treat box; a really simple way to do this is take a muffin tin (6 or 12), as many balls as muffin cups, put a treat in a few of the cups (not all), then place a ball on top of all cups. This makes your dog have to work for the treat, and gives them something to do for a while.

For our cat family:

  • Pick up most of the toys you have laying around and put them away. Take a trip to the pet store and purchase a few new ones. Believe it or not our cats get bored with their toys after a while, so changing them up or only giving them a few keeps things interesting.
  • Try teaching your cat a trick. Yes, you read that right! Cats can learn tricks too! The key here is to use POSITIVE reinforcement, focus on a behavior they already display, turn it into a trick they perform on command and give a reward for doing the trick.
  • Make a treat box; find a cheap rectangular reuse container, cut 3 holes of various sizes in the lid (carefully melt the cut edges so your cat doesn’t get injured), add a few toys to the container- make sure one or two of them have bells for sound stimulation, add a few kibbles of food or a few treats, secure the lid and watch your cat work to get the food/treats out. If you have more than one cat, you may want to make more than one treat box so everyone can have a turn.
  • Play time, play time, play time. On that trip to the pet store make sure to pick up a wand type toy if you don’t already have one, if you do have one, get another. These wand toys get you involved and interacting with your cat and can be entertaining for the both of you.

When you come in from walking your pet, make sure to wipe and check their paws. While there is “petsafe” ice/snow melt, not everyone uses it and you want to make sure there are no cuts or scrapes from running around in the snow and ice.

All these things are a health benefit not only for your dog or cat, but for you as well. Get up and get moving, it will make your pet happy and it will make you happy as well.