Indoor enrichment for dogs.

As the mercury drops and our furry friends spend less time outdoors, it’s important to find creative ways to keep them mentally, physically, and emotionally stimulated. 

Optimizing your pet’s quality of life is an important aspect of overall pet wellness care, and your friends at Naperville Animal Hospital have compiled some fun and simple ways to help you keep your cats and dogs entertained when they’re cooped up for hours on end.

Appeal to Their Senses

When creating indoor enrichment activities for your cat or dog, start with the five senses! What would your pet like to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch?

Sights to Behold: Hang bird feeders outside the window where your cat prefers to perch, or park your pooch’s favorite chair next to a window so he can watch the world go by. If it’s screen time they’re craving, tune to YouTube’s Birder King (for your cat) or DOGTV. 

Now Hear This: Leave your pet’s favorite music playing softly while you’re gone. Check out Relax My Cat or Relax My Dog on YouTube for sounds that aim to soothe and minimize the impact of separation anxiety. 

The Nose Knows: Treat your pet to a scent-fueled treasure hunt that will also tickle her tastebuds! Hide a few of her favorite treats around the house (just make sure she won’t accidentally get trapped in a tricky spot), and she will use her stellar sense of smell to seek out her rewards.

Tasty Pastimes: Puzzle toys that make pets “work” for their food require them to use their minds and their bodies to access a yummy reward. Live plants like wheatgrass, catnip, and parsley are also fun for cats to nibble on.

The Human Touch: For optimal enrichment, there’s no substitute for quality time with you! Make time for playtime with your pet, and shower her with belly rubs, neck scritches, and cuddles. Curl up and read a book or watch a video together. Your pet will love the one-on-one attention!

Other Enrichment Ideas to Try

Rotate Your Pet’s Toys: Chances are, your pet never sees what’s on the bottom of that boxful of toys. Choose a handful of favorites and store the rest. Then, rotate in a few “new” toys once in a while. Just don’t take away a toy that she needs for comfort.  

Raid Your Recycling Bin: Turn those Amazon boxes into a cardboard castle, box fort, or obstacle course. Paper towel tubes can be transformed into treat puzzles, and an old fashioned brown paper bag (with handles removed) can be just as fun for your cat as a pricey new gadget.

It’s the Climb: Cats typically feel safer when they can perch above the commoners—especially dogs! Plus, climbing keeps them active, so make the most of your home’s vertical space with cat trees, ledges, and catwalks. 

Get Social: Enroll your dog in training classes or book him a slot in doggie daycare so he can enjoy some interaction with other dogs. Schedule a playdate with another pet owner, and if you’re the host, create a special “agility course” and watch the fun! 

Comprehensive pet wellness care includes offering your pet plenty of opportunities for enrichment year round. Please call us at (630) 355-5300 for more tips!