A new year is a great time to establish new routines for you and your furry family members – especially after the busy holiday season. Here, at The COVE, we encourage all of our pet families to focus on strengthening their bonds with their pets! Here are 12 ways to stimulate and engage with your dog or cat during this new year.


  1. Obedience and agility training – Training is a great way to bond with your dog. Find a respected trainer and go beyond basic obedience.
  2. Hide and seek – Play indoors or outdoors (in a confined area like a gated backyard) by hiding yourself, treats, or toys. Tell your dog to wait, then hide and call them when ready. Start easy and make it more difficult as they get better.
  3. Cup game – Hide a smelly treat under one of three (or more) cups and let your dog sniff until they find the right cup and thus the treat.
  4. Red light, green light – A fun game for impulse control. “Red light” is a stationary command (sit, down) and “green light” is a release command (play tug, chase, or some other type of play).
  5. Change up the scenery – Stay healthy and active with your dog by going for a walk or hike or visiting a dog park. Walking around and exploring new outdoor spaces helps keep your dog’s mind sharp and their body healthy.
  6. Toy naming – Broaden your dog’s vocabulary. Take it a step further by training them to pick up the toy when you want to play and put it away in a specified location when it’s time to clean up.


  1. Treasure hunt – Hide food or treats so your cat has to use their hunting instinct to track the “prey.”
  2. Trick training – Yes, cats can learn tricks! Teach “sit,” “come,” or “shake” by using lots of patience and treat rewards.
  3. Fetch – Toss a small toy or ball of paper and teach your cat to bring it back by giving praise and treats.
  4. Walk on a leash – Train your cat to walk comfortably outside on a leash with a harness. Yes, it can be done!
  5. Cardboard boxes – Make boxes more fun by cutting small holes and placing treats inside so your cat has to reach in and pull out the treat.
  6. Play – Use a stuffed mouse tied on a stick with string, small furry toys, or even interactive games for cats. Rotate toys to keep them fresh.

We hope you find these 12 pet enrichment tips helpful. We wish you and furry family members a happy and healthy New Year!

Remember, The COVE is open 24/7/365 days a year with a team of compassionate, highly skilled emergency clinicians if you need us.

About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.