A Paws For Pets — DIY dog enrichment

By Nicci Lawrence, York Adopt A Pet

With the cold blast of Arctic air settling in last week, it was clear winter has arrived. Long walks and games of fetch in the backyard tend to lose their appeal when high temperatures are in the single digits and the snowdrifts are taller than the dogs. Unless you have a Husky or other cold-loving breed, most dogs are more than happy to get their business taken care of outside and head right back to the house as quickly as possible. With outdoor exercise opportunities cut short, here are a few ideas to help keep your pets engaged and active while stuck indoors.

While there are many commercial dog enrichment items available for purchase such as treat puzzles and snuffle mats, you can easily use items you probably already have at home to give your pup a fun challenge.

Hide treats or kibble inside an old towel, roll, fold or scrunch up the towels around the treats and let your pet sniff out, unwrap and find them. Old tea towels work well for smaller dogs and larger bath towels are suitable for larger breeds.

Fold over the ends of toilet paper or paper towel tubes and place treats inside. Your dog will have a blast tearing up the cardboard to get their reward. For large dogs, a cardboard box with holes poked in the sides and sealed up will give them more of a challenge.

Use ice cube trays or recycled yogurt or other food containers to freeze treats or any dog-safe food in ice. These will keep your dog occupied for quite some times as they lick their way to their reward.

Muffin tins or mini muffin tins for smaller dogs make great food puzzles. Place treats in the tins and cover with tennis balls, or crumpled up newspapers to hide the treats.

Does a school snow day have your kids cooped up in the house going stir crazy or maybe just driving you crazy? Get them involved and encourage them to come up with even more creative and fun activities for the family pet.

Of course all these ideas should always be used when you are able to directly supervise your pet to prevent them from getting carried away and ingesting any part of the enrichment toy.

And remember spring is just around the corner!

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