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Ease Cabin Fever with Indoor Enrichment for Your Pets

Jan 01, 2017 02:54PM ● Published by North Hills Monthly magazine

Animals need ways to stay active – physically and mentally – all year long. With the weather turning from cold to colder, here are some indoor tips that will help to ease cabin fever and give you and your pets endless entertainment on those cold winter days!

Build a Cat Activity Center
Things that would typically be thrown away can easily be made into an entertaining play station for your cat. Everyday items such as toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners, clean medicine cups, ribbon spools or egg cartons can provide hours of brain-stimulating fun! Use a shallow cardboard box as the base and securely glue your items in place.

Once your activity center has taken shape, add a few pinches of catnip, jingle bells, toys or treats. Your cat will enjoy exploring the textures, smells and sounds and her brain will be put to work. Once she has lost interest, refill the goodies and move it to a new location. Your cat will think she has made a brand new discovery and you’ll be able to reuse your activity center time and time again. 

Put Your Dog’s Sniffer to the Test
Dogs are great at detecting smells and their superior sniffers are a great way to help them have some fun when it’s too cold outside for typical activities.

Bottles in a Box
A large box filled with empty water bottles can really put your pup’s brain to work. Drop in a few treats and let your dog sniff, search and dig for them. Since the bottles make lots of noise, try crumbled newspaper for fearful dogs to help them build confidence.

Scent Trail
Take a page out of Hansel and Gretel’s book and lay out a trail of tiny treats. This game can be played inside in any amount of space – use your imagination! After leading your pooch through the kitchen, around the couch and up the stairs, leave a jackpot (a small pile of treats) at the end of the trail as a reward for your little explorer. 

Create a Foraging Game for Your Rabbit
A rabbit in the wild must search for his food. By creating a foraging game, you can easily encourage your indoor rabbit to get some exercise while searching, sniffing and thinking to find a treat.

Show your rabbit a treat and then hide it in your hand, under your leg or behind a toy. Let him sniff out the treat. Next, make a trail of fresh greens across the room, hiding some of the pieces. If your bunny makes quick work of the trail, you can take it to the next level by slowly dragging one leaf across the floor and hiding it at the end. Your rabbit’s mind will be working to follow his nose all the way to the treat. The better you hide the prize, the harder he’ll have to work to find it!
These are just a few of the countless enrichment activities you can use to keep your four-legged family members active all winter long. You can have fun thinking up other games to exercise your pet’s body and mind – the only limit is your imagination! For inspiration and more great ideas, go to ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Enrichment.

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