While winter is the perfect time for you to curl up on the couch with a new Netflix series and a mug of hot chocolate, your pet may not enjoy the latest TV series so much. Spur interest in physical activity for you and your furry pal, and enjoy the health and mental benefits of regular exercise. If you’re unmotivated in the midst of the winter doldrums, spice up your daily routine the following six ways. 

#1: Enroll your pet in a training class

Although your cat is not likely to hit the classes at the local kennel club, you can train your cat using a clicker or lure at home. Many cats catch on quickly to clicker or lure training, as long as the mood suits them. If your pup is ready to learn some new skills, check for training courses offered near the Lagrangeville area that may interest you. A variety of canine activities, such as dock diving, flyball, agility, obedience, and scentwork, are available to entice your pooch into regular exercise. A large, lumbering pet, like a mastiff, may enjoy agility. Remember, it’s not about how quickly you finish the course, but about enjoying a physical activity with your pet. 

#2: Ditch your pet’s food dishes

A never-ending, easily acceptable food buffet will help your pet gain weight rapidly. Ensure your furry pal stays sleek and trim by ditching the filled-to-the-brim food dish. Instead, use puzzle feeders and toys that can be stuffed with food to encourage your pet to use her brain and burn some calories for her meals. You can create your own food puzzle by hiding kibble pieces in a muffin tin underneath tennis balls. If your pet eats canned food, stuff a meal into a Kong, and freeze overnight to make it last longer. 

#3: Schedule a playdate for your pooch

If your pup is the friendly type, a playdate with a familiar dog is an excellent way to burn off steam. Not all dogs enjoy a canine playmate, however, so understand your dog’s personality before inviting a friend over. But, if your pooch has a favorite canine bestie, schedule a hike or a doggie playdate for a fun-filled afternoon. 

#4: Discover new games with your pet

While some dogs never seem to tire of the same old game of fetch, a new activity will likely stimulate fresh interest and a desire to play. Creating unique games based on your pet’s interests is a great way to build your bond while being active. Playing hide-and-seek with your pup is perfect for getting you and your pet up and moving, especially if your home has multiple floors. Your cat is unlikely to be a good seeking partner, but would probably be excellent at hiding. Try a different game with your feline friend, such as tossing a ping pong ball in an empty bathtub for her to swat, or filling a box with crumpled paper balls for fun exploration. 

#5: Set aside daily playtime with your pet

Your best friend spends all day waiting for you to come home, so reward that devotion with daily play, whether it’s with toys, training, or petting, to help strengthen your bond, and to encourage your pet to be more active. Ideally, she should have at least 15 to 30 minutes per day of directed physical activity, such as a walk, play, or training session. Each pet also will require varying amounts of physical activity to satisfy her mental needs, since a bored pet will easily get into mischief if left to her own devices. 

#6: Explore something new

Avoid falling into a rut this year by changing your pet’s routine with a new walking path, hiking trail, or park, or enrolling in an interesting training course. At home, swap out your pet’s toys to spark interest, rather than leaving a basketful of toys readily available. If she is overwhelmed with her regular toy treasure trove, your pet may be more excited to play with a fresh, new toy every few days. 

Try new things to get you and your pet out of your winter physical rut, but schedule a wellness visit to ensure your furry pal is healthy and ready for action, before implementing a rigorous exercise regimen with your pet.