Updated: Aug 19
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Whether it's too cold to spend much time outside or you and/or your pet are stuck at home with an illness or injury, sometimes we need to get a little creative to meet our pet's daily mental and physical exercise needs. Check out these tips to help you and your pet get the most out of life on the inside:
Indoor Leash Walking - Who says that walks have to take place outside? Get your leash walking practice in around your house while you're inside and your pet will have even better leash manners when you head back outside! This is the perfect way to get in some practice in with a low-level of distraction, especially if your pet has problems with reactivity or pulling on leash. Cat owners, do you have an indoor-only cat that you'd like to take outside? Leash walking is a safe way to do so! Start out with leash training inside to prepare your cat before heading out for the first time. BONUS: You'll be getting your own exercise in too! Want to increase the difficulty?
Scatter your pet's favorite treats or toys on the ground and walk past them several times before releasing your pet to go get them.
Practice leash walking up and down the stairs. Make sure you set the pace, not your pet!
Use chairs, boxes, or whatever else you can find to create an agility course for your pet. Run through it on and off leash!
Open the windows and/or play nature sounds and sounds of other animals to increase sound distractions.
Treadmill - The treadmill is also a great option for your pet to get daily exercise indoors! Make sure that your treadmill is long enough for your pet to reach its full stride even at higher speeds to avoid any injuries. You can either run your pet at a steady pace or develop an interval workout with a variety of speeds. Just like humans, our pets can benefit from variety of workouts! If your treadmill is long enough and wide enough, you just might be able to treadmill right along with your pet. Didn't manage to avoid the cold or flu or another virus this season? A treadmill session is a great way to exercise your pet when you need to rest! While this is commonly used for dogs, it's also another great option for cats! It's another way to desensitize your cat to distractions on leash before heading out the door.
Tug - Tug can be an excellent way to exercise your pet's brain and body when you are cooped up indoors. Make sure that you and your pet have a firm grasp on leave it or drop before you begin though! Periodically tell your pet to release the tug and direct them to sit, down, or place before resuming your game. Remember: If you tell your pet place in the middle of the game, they'll still need to be completely relaxed before you release them! Yes! Cats can do this too. Get out their favorite flirt pole and practice some obedience between chase/tug sessions. [Read this blog post if you need to work on training a "drop" behavior]
Ditch the Bowl - Exercising your pet's brain can help to keep them calm and relaxed, especially when they are on crate rest or limited exercise. Any easy time to do this is at meal time by ditching the bowl and dispensing your pet's diet in creative ways!
Puzzle Feeders can engage your pet's brain during meal time AND they make meal time last even longer so you can get work done while your pet is eating! Here are some of my favorites:
Kong Wobbler - Not only will this toy engage your pet's brain, it will also get them moving! Kong makes both a dog Wobbler and a cat Wobbler. Pro tip: Use in a carpeted area to reduce the noise level.
Classic Kong Toy - Stuff the Kong with your pet's regular diet and plug the opening with a little peanut butter or other treat. For an added challenge, moisten kibble before stuffing the Kong and freeze it solid before giving it to your pet. I prefer the Extreme Kong because it lasts longer and holds up to tough chewers and pointy kitty teeth.
LickiMats - Spread peanut butter, yogurt, or other spreadable treats on a LickiMat for your pet to lick off! Make sure to monitor your pet to ensure that they lick instead of chew. Just like a Kong, freezing can up the difficulty/extend the usage time. Check out the suction cup option to distract your pet during bath time!
Interactive Bowls - If you'd like to contain your pet's diet, but still offer some enrichment, check out an interactive bowl (also known as a slow feeder). This is a great option for animals that eat their food too quickly, causing themselves to vomit or bloat.
No puzzle feeder? No problem! You can still make your pet's meal interactive with these options:
Scatter Feed - Scatter your pet's food across the floor to encourage them to use their foraging skills while they eat. (Note: Probably NOT a good idea if you feed raw!) Clean the floor before and after meal time to keep everyone happy and healthy.
Nose Work - Try shutting your pet out of the room, hiding food around the room, and then releasing your pet to sniff it out and eat it.
DIY Puzzle Feeder - Are you trying to figure out what to do with all those Amazon and Chewy boxes? Fill them with food and let your pet figure out how to rip them open and get the food out. You can cut some holes in the box to make it a little easier for your pet the first time around.
Prevent Problem Behaviors - If you're going to be spending a lot of time indoors and need to focus on work, chores, etc, you'll want to implement some management techniques to keep your pet safe while your focus is elsewhere.
Crate/Place - Put your pet in a "place" to keep them calm and out of trouble while you work. If you're still mastering duration place, you can always shut your pet in the crate to enforce the command without actively monitoring them.
Door Buddy - Do you have both dogs and cats at home? Use a Door Buddy to establish a "cat only" safe space for your cats. Bonus: This keeps your dog from snacking on kitty litter. Yuck! The Door Buddy sticks onto your door and the door frame, keeping the door slightly ajar, but doesn't allow it to open wide enough for your dog to get in.
Baby Gates - Do you have an area that you don't want your pet to enter? Set up baby gates to keep your pet out of that area! Taller gates are great for jumpers, but they may not keep all pets out. Make sure to monitor your pet initially to ensure the gate is keeping them out!
Online Training Session - Whether you're struggling to get your pet the exercise they need, want to address a problem behavior, or you're hoping to achieve your next training goal, booking an online training session with King's Creatures is the perfect way to take advantage of your time indoors! Online sessions take place via Zoom. Set up your camera to get a good view of the room you and your pet are in, wear clothes that you can be comfortably active in, and get ready for professional, personalized training in the comfort of your own home! Learn more and book an online training session today at kingscreatures.com/online-training.
What's your favorite indoor activity to do with your pet?