Is the winter weather keeping you and your pet cooped up indoors and bouncing off the walls? Here are ways to keep them entertained when it’s too cold to go outside.

If only we could go into hibernation and sleep the winter months away in a cosy bed. Alas, life goes on, for us and for our pets. When they aren’t able to go outdoors to play, sniff, hunt, and socialise, our furry friends have no way of releasing their energy which becomes pent up and can lead to boredom and behavioural problems. Not fun for anyone!

Suppose you are worried that the chilly season ahead and being cooped up inside is going to take a toll on your pets – and your sanity! – here’s how to keep them entertained indoors.

Practice Training

We might think our pets are perfect but most of them could probably do with a refresher course on manners and obedience. If you have that sorted, maybe there are some tricks you’d like them to learn.

There’s always room for more learning, right? By doing some training with them you can ensure that they are behaving how they should and also get them thinking, which is a great source of stimulation. They might even be more exhausted after a training session than after a walk!

Play A Game

Playing a game with your pet redirects their energy away from chewing up your favourite rug by engaging them in something more fun!

Winter games to play with your pets


1. Hide the Treat

This is a game that is great for your pet’s brain and belly and it requires minimal effort on your part! While your animal is in another room or being kept occupied elsewhere, take some small treats and hide them around the house in creative places. Then let them loose and let their noses get to work.

2. Fetch!

Do you have a ball-crazy fur kid in your family? This one works best for people who have a long passage or corridor in their house. Remove anything fragile, such as picture frames on the walls, and you can play a traditional game of fetch. You can replace the ball with a pair of socks if you are concerned about damage.

3. Make Mealtime Fun

The pet industry is a big one and there are tons of products on the market aimed at keeping our pets engaged.

Some of these puzzle-feeding toys are designed to be used at mealtimes to make them more fun and interactive. Switch out the regular bowls for one of these and voila – food time is also game time!

Winter games for pets


Host A Play Date

An activity that can be fulfilling for both pets and owners is tro organise a playdate as bringing more people and their animals into your home can be exciting and kill the indoor boredom – at least for a few hours! If your fur kid has a buddy, invite them and their owners for snacks and a game. Allow the animals to meet in the garden before allowing them inside and make sure that they are supervised at all times in case a fight breaks out.

Treat Time

Sometimes the most effective way to keep your menagerie calm and quiet is to give them something to nibble on. There are plenty of treat-dispensing toys on the market that deliver snacks and stimulation. You can also give them long-lasting chews. Remember: Winter weight gain can be a struggle not just for people but our pets, too! If you are using treats to entertain and reward your fur kid, this should be considered when it comes to feeding time and less food should be given to account for the extra snacks.

Make D.I.Y  Toys

Tired of games and want your pet to entertain themselves? That’s where toys come in (and they don’t have to cost a thing, either!).

1. Rope Ball

As the name suggests, all you need is a rope and a tennis ball to make a toy that will be Fido’s new favourite! Drill two holes, one on each side of a tennis ball, string the rope through, and then tie the two ends of the rope together so it forms a loop. Now it can be a chew or a tug toy!

Winter games to play with your pets


2. String Toy

Cats love to flex their hunting instincts, which is why they enjoy toys with moving objects.

Making one for your feline friend is also really simple. Make a pom-pom or gather some feathers and tie them to the end of a piece of string. Tie the string to a stick and you’ll have a toy to dangle over your kitty.

3. Your Recycling Pile

Animals really don’t require much when it comes to toys and anything can become a fun object. This goes for many items we commonly throw away or recycle. A box or piece of string can provide hours of entertainment for cats, and many dogs would love to destroy a toilet roll tube or play tug-of-war with you and a laddered pair of pantyhose.

Protecting your plants from your pets

A version of this article was published in the Garden&Home June 2023 print edition

Images: Pexels