Even us humans have a hard time keeping ourselves busy while cooped up during long Michigan winters. Imagine how it must be for your pup.

Interactive toys and games are a great way to cure your furry friends’ boredom, keep their minds stimulated, and provide hours of fun! 

For dog’s that love their plush toys, Outward Hound’s Hide-A-Squirrel game is always a great interactive toy option. Just stuff the squeaker filled squirrels into the holes in the plush tree, and wait for your dog to “hunt” them. You can keep stuffing the squirrels back in as needed, and the material is made of durable fabrics so that even tougher chewers don’t destroy it easily while playing. 

Play hide-and-seek! The part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours. They absolutely love putting it to good use. Take a few healthy, extra scented treats such as freeze dried liver or other freeze dried meats and hide them around your house. I suggest making your dog sit/stay while you hide them as an added challenge. Hide 5 or so treats and let his nose do the rest! This is also a fun game to have your children participate in as well. They love trying to stump the dog with their treat hiding places.

Create an indoor obstacle course. Have your dog jump over some towels, weave through his toys, and then lay down on a blanket. Use your imagination and come up with a set of obstacles for your dog to follow. Once your dog has learned how to jump over the towels you then move onto the toy weave. Building on prior tricks will keep your dog mentally stimulated and encourage focus. Even senior dogs and young puppies can learn any of these tricks.

Give them a frozen Kong – It is my firm belief that every dog should have a Kong. I don’t often recommend putting peanut butter in it as it is fatty and some peanut butter contains xylitol which is toxic to dogs. Some healthier ideas are using plain greek yogurt and putting in the freezer. You can also put treats or kibble in the bottom of the Kong and then fill with yogurt and freeze. This will keep most dogs busy for about a half hour.

OurPets Buster Food Cube allows dogs to work for their treats while gaining mental and physical stimulation. Simply put the treats into the cube and give it to your dog. The rubber lip over the opening of the cube prevents the treats from easily spilling out, so your dog must bat it around for awhile before getting lucky enough for some to spill out. We carry a wide variety of different treat dispensing toy brands that require a dog to work for their reward. 

Don’t worry. We haven’t forgotten your cats! Felines are easily entertained by moving objects, scratching their claws onto surfaces, and catnip, so what’s better than a combination of all three? With a scratch pad in the center of a track where the catnip filled ball rolls around, The Bergan Turbo Scratcher is an interactive cat toy that offers your cat hours of exercise and playtime all in one. 

For something a bit simpler, the Cat Dancer and Go-Cat toys offer flexible wires with mice, feathers, balls, etc. at the end of them that allow cats to jump, hunt, and scratch their “prey.”

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pet store if you have questions on this or any pet related topic.