So I thought what with winter drawing in, the weather becomming very cold and it being a very busy time of year for all, I would share some great ways to keep your pets stimulated. When it comes to animals, I think a tired pet is generally a well behaved one. A lot of our pets love being outside in warmer temperatures, whether its a dog, cat or bunny. A lot of pets are not so keen on the wet weather, the cold, fireworks and the dark. When your pet doesn’t want to go outside you need to find other ways to keep them occupied and stimulated both mentally and physically. Here are some ideas that will work for most pets including dogs, cats and rabbits:


  • Food Toys – There are a huge range of brain trainers and treat dispensers both online and in most local pet shops. They come in a range of abilities and styles. From the range Kong do for both dogs and cats, to the more exciting and challenging style of toys you get from ranges such as Nina Ottosson for dogs and Ancol who have interactive food toys for dogs, cats and rabbits.  Food toys can be used with both treats or your pets usual food. I find that Poppy is a lot more likely to eat her dinner if she has to work for it.
  • Homemade Food Toys – Don’t want to spend a fortune on food toys? Why not make your own! Cardboard boxes are great, put some food inside, cover with scrunched up paper and close the box. Watch your pet while they figure out how to get to the yumminess inside. You can also do the same with the cardboard roll from inside your loo roll or kitchen paper, food inside, stuff with paper and fold the ends. Other things to try are empty, cleaned out plastic bottles or tubs. Also try hiding food in your pets bedding or around the house so they can use their brain and instincts to hunt it out. Use a fairycake baking tray, fill each hole with some food then place things like balls and other small toys on top of each hole for your pet to move off to get to the treat. Please supervise your pets.
  • Training – Whether you have a dog or a rat, there are training exercises you can do using positive reward based methods to keep their brains ticking to wear them out. There are excellent books out there for training pets of all shapes and sizes, just make sure they are using positive methods. A great website that shows you really can train any pet is Animal Behaviour Matters.
  • Chews – There are some great, healthy chews around that will keep your dog occupied. These include Pizzles, Paddywack, Pigs Ears and Chicken Legs.
  • Indoor Games – How about playing the sorts of games you would play with your pet outside, inside. Fetch in your hallway, hide and seek and tug are all games that are just as fun inside as outside.

Please remember that these things are not substitutes for your pet getting adequate exercise, they should help to take the edge off though on occassions where it is not possible to give as much exercise as is needed. We would love to hear what you do to keep your pets occupied. Feel free to share ideas in the comments box underneath.


Poppy's selection of interactive food toys