Photo by Pexels
How to Cure Your Pet’s Cabin Fever
The harsh cold of winter can be challenging enough for humans. For a pet that spends its days cooped up in your home, though, it can be even more difficult to remain both healthy and sane. That’s why it’s important for pet owners to have a plan in place in order to keep their four-legged friends from getting too stir crazy when that arctic chill rolls into town.
If you’ve noticed your animal companion showing signs of cabin fever, here are a few tips and suggestions to help stimulate their brains, stretch their legs, help them get some much-needed activity.
Get Out of Dodge
One of the best things you can do to avoid that winter laziness is to take your pet on vacation. Before you roll your eyes and move on to the next item, it’s worth considering all that this option has to offer. After all, vacationing doesn’t have to consist of basking with your pup or lounging with your kitten on a beach in Maui (although if you can pull off an overseas adventure with your pet, more power to you).
If time, money, logistics, or all three are concerns, though, there are plenty of winter holiday alternatives still available. For instance, if you have an RV, you can pack your bags, load up your pet’s equipment, and head to a pet-friendly location. Before you drive off, take a second to make sure your home is as prepared for vacation as you and your pet, adjust your thermostat, and make sure your house doesn’t look noticeable empty to keep thieves away.
If the call of the wild is too much to bear, you can steer into the skid with your RV adventures and embrace the cold. Head north to Canada or even Vermont or Maine. Look for a quality skiing lodge that accommodates animals and then stretch your legs by embracing the winter weather together. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can drive south for a few days or weeks. Look for a warmer location like Miami or Phoenix where you and your pet can spend the days in warmer weather and get plenty of exercise on a regular basis.
Bring Your Dog to Work
Of course, even if you can manage to arrange for a mid-winter vacation for you and your pet, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself back at home looking for ways to help lassie let his hyper-energy out again.
When that happens, another possibility to consider is bringing your pooch or kitten to work. Obviously, you’re going to need to check with your employer to see if this is an option. Even if it isn’t, though, all hope isn’t lost. Consider leading the charge to make it an option.
Dog-friendly offices are growing in popularity, with companies like Google, Amazon, and even Ben & Jerry’s allowing their employees’ furry friends to tag along for a workday at the office. Focus on explaining why the effect is good for overall workspace morale and see if you can’t get your office’s policy changed. Not only will it help your fellow coworkers, but it will also help your pet get some much-needed exercise on a regular basis.
Set Up a Play Date
There are many other ways to help our pets stretch their legs outside of work and vacation. For instance, consider looking for a friend or family member who won’t mind you bringing your dog or cat along for a visit.
If you have a dog and you know a friend who also has a dog – and both animals are good at socializing, consider getting together for a good, old-fashioned playdate. If you live in the city and a family member has a fenced-in yard in the suburbs, drop in for a visit to let your pet run around in the snow.
There are plenty of scenarios where a play date or a friendly visit can help your animal companion get out of the house with ease. All you have to do is look for them.
Go On a Shopping Trip
No, this isn’t advocating for you to waltz into your local grocer with your dog at your heels. Chances are they don’t allow animals in their building, no matter how well behaved they are. However, if you’re aware of any local stores that are okay with animals on the premise, pay a visit with your pet.
If all else fails and you can’t find any other stores, simply take them on a special trip to the pet store once in a while. You can let them pick out a toy or a treat (more on those further down) and give them a chance to get an exciting change of both smells and scenery.
Go for a Chilly Walk
While you’re probably reading this list with the explicit intent of avoiding your normal warm-weather walks, the truth is, you can still take your pet for a brief walk in the snowy weather. In fact, the cold will likely tucker them out quite a bit faster than they’re used to.
If walking on the road isn’t an option due to heaps of snow or hazardous conditions, you can even walk around your yard or a local park. Bring a toy and let them play in the snow, too. Just make sure to keep a sharp eye out for lethargy, violent body shaking, or any other signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
Spend Time Training
If you can’t get outdoors, that’s okay. There are still plenty of ways to get your pet moving. One easy option is to start training with them. Down, sit, come, and stay, even if your pet is an old soul, it never hurts to reinforce the basics.
Plus, who needs to bow to the pressure of the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” With endless weeks of winter ahead, why not try to teach them something new? If you’re looking for ways to get your pet moving, consider teaching them a new trick, like:
- High five.
- Roll over.
- Play dead.
- Spin in a circle.
- Walk on your hind legs.
As a side note, if you’re going to spend time training, it’s wise to avoid overfeeding your pet treats. They’re already moving less in the cold weather, and you don’t want to exacerbate things by helping them gain weight. If you have a dog, for instance, instead of giving them handfuls of doggy treats every day, try using carrots as a healthy, low-calorie treat alternative.
Set Up a Play Area
Along with training, you can set up a dedicated pet play area for your animal to get some of their wiggles out. Try getting a new scratching post for your cat or purchasing an interactive dog toy for your pup. You can even lay down a few mats to let your canine run through an area of your home or play tug of war without scratching up the floor.
If you’re looking for specific activities that encourage your pet to move more, consider:
- Tug of war.
- Fetch (down a hallway or in a big room).
- Hide and seek (either with a toy …or yourself).
Spend Quality Time Together
While cabin fever is typically associated with a cooped-up feeling and the need to move more, it can also be a state of mental laziness and discontent. One way you can address your animal’s winter-induced doldrums is simply by spending quality time with them.
A quick hello when you get home from work or letting them sit next to you while you watch television is okay, but if you want to help them, you should consider giving your pet some undivided attention.
Give them a massage, snuggle with them, talk to them, or give them attention in whatever other way they like best. It may not be physical exertion, but the specific focus on your pet will still help them vent some of their restlessness.
Look for Extracurricular Activities
Finally, if a vacation, playdates, walks, or bringing your pet to work aren’t an option but you’re still feeling the need to get your pet some activity outside of the house, you may need to simply think outside of the box a little bit. There are still plenty of other extracurricular activities for pets available, especially if you do a little sleuthing in your local area.
For instance, you can join a nearby CanineFreestyle class to get your pet’s heart rate up. You can also sign your animal up for pet therapy. There are many pet therapy animal organizations that help plug you and your animal into a local hospital or another location that needs the loving warmth of a pet to cheer up those who are struggling.
The best part about this option is that it is a win-win for everyone involved. You and your pet find a new sense of purpose and joy that lightens your wintery-sluggishness, all while bringing a smile to the face of those who are genuinely going through hard times.
Curing Your Pet’s Cabin Fever
Staying active during the cold weather can feel like an impossible task, let alone helping your pet to do so. Before you surrender your animal to that seemingly unavoidable lazy lifestyle, though, look for ways to help your pet claw their way out of the sluggishness.
From a brief, brisk stroll in the snow to a playdate, time spent volunteering, or even a full-blown vacation, there are plenty of ways to make sure that both you and your pet don’t fall victim to a classic case of cabin fever.
Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.