Does this cold winter weather have you and your pet going a little stir crazy? If you’re used to spending time outdoors, then chances are good that the both of you are probably starting to experience a little cabin fever by now.

Add to that, the fact that many pets (and people) tend to pack on a few extra pounds during the winter months, and you may be wondering just how you’re going to survive the winter.

Making an effort to stay active indoors this winter is great for both the mind and body. Not only will your pet appreciate the chance to play, but he or she will also be grateful for the chance to lose some weight and possibly sniff out some new smells, too.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

Ramp Up the Physical Activity

Just because you are indoors doesn’t mean that you can’t get your heart rate up. Many dogs (and cats) enjoy chasing after a laser pointer, playing a spirited game of fetch down a long hallway, or finding their favorite treats (or people) during a game of hide-and-go-seek. Make an effort every day to encourage physical activity for at least 15 minutes. This will not only combat boredom, but it will also ward off winter weight gain.

With games like laser pointer where your pet can’t catch the light, be sure to end on a positive with a reward to avoid leaving your pet frustrated.

Challenge the Brain

Stimulate that noggin! Work on learning a new trick, play a puzzle game for pets, or buy a new interactive toy. Exercise is not just limited to the body, and a tired brain often leads to a tired pooch.

Training activities are also a great way to challenge your pet. And if your pup already knows the basic commands, try teaching him or her to wave or high-five instead. There are several websitesand books dedicated to ideas for teaching novel pet tricks.

Hit the Road

Getting out of the house can do wonders for both you and your pet. Check and see if there are any indoor dog parks in your neighborhood, or use your imagination to come up with less traditional destinations.

You might take a trip to a pet-friendly store such as a local bakery or pet store to pick out a new treat. Consider setting up a doggy play date with a friend if your pet plays well with others or take a drive to visit a family member. Or stop by our office to say hello, it can be good for pets to visit our offices without a “reason”.

And don’t forget, many pets just enjoy going for a car ride, regardless of the destination.

Treat Your Pet

Make a date for pampering your pup. Give you pet a bath (make sure he or she is fully dry before going outdoors), a good brush-out, or nail trim, if you are comfortable with that. You might even paint your dog’s nails with a pet-safe polish or provide a luxurious doggy massage. Whether your pamper your pet at home or send him or her to the groomer, taking care of your pet’s hygiene during the winter months is good for both their mind and their body.

We know this winter has been a difficult one, but hopefully spring is right around the corner. Keeping busy will help the time to fly by, and before you know it you will be playing outdoors again. But, in the meantime, use some of these ideas for activities for pets to have fun with your dog in the warmth of your home (or car).