You know just how frustrating it can be when falling snow and bitter cold have you stuck in the house all day in the middle of the winter. It can be just as boring for your dog, who would much rather go outside and play. There are plenty of ways to fend off cabin fever that will occupy and entertain both you and your dog.
When you’re spending more time inside with your dog, it’s a great opportunity to get in some more training. For example, you can teach your dog to fetch the things it needs for a walk such as a leash and harness so that it’s not fidgeting and whimpering while it waits impatiently for you to put on your own winter coat and boots. Teaching your dog tricks will also allow them to spend quality time with you as well as increase brain activity and become more adaptable. A good time to train them is before mealtimes so they will be more eager to perform with the promise of food soon to come.
In the same vein, you might want to think about looking into agility training classes in your area. This way, your dog may be able to expend their extra energy while also learning something - and doing so without dealing with the snow and cold. They can also find a release for their energy at doggy day care, where they can play freely off-leash in a warm environment with other dogs. Depending on where you live, you may find an indoor dog park near you where you can take them to play as well.
But if you can’t get out of the house, there’s always ways to entertain your four-legged friends inside the home as well. One way to do this is to use puzzle toys to keep them occupied and sharpen their minds. You may even need more than one if your dog is particularly smart and figures them out quickly. If you give your dog feeding puzzles, you can also use them to slow down their eating and keep them from getting an upset stomach. For any new toys, it may help draw your dog’s attention by putting away other toys and making a display of opening the new toy, so that your dog will focus on the new plaything.
Puzzles aren’t the only toys which your dog may find interesting during the winter months. You can always play tug with your dog by using a rope toy. The great thing about playing tug with your dog is that you can also do something else at the same time if necessary, like watch TV, read, or check your phone. Another activity which can amuse your dog is simply blowing bubbles, which dogs love to chase and snap at.
You can also play games with your dog, such as hide-and-seek. Hide-and-seek not only allows your dog to have fun, but it presents an opportunity to practice things like “stay” and -- if you’re hiding toys for your dog to find and bring back -- “drop it.” Hide-and-seek can turn the whole house into a playground. Even if you’re not playing games, there are plenty of places in the house where you can engage your dog in playtime. The stairs can be used for running, jumping, or chasing after balls or treats, and if you have an open and free space in the basement it can be a safe place for your dog to play without knocking anything over.
You might want to invite some of your dog’s friends over. Whether your dog has another four-legged friend at doggy day care, a neighbor dog they like, or a “cousin” or other family member’s dog they enjoy, a playdate with another canine buddy can keep both dogs entertained during a long winter day. You should make sure you know as much as you can about any dog you have over for a playdate: whether they get rough sometimes while playing, if they’re housebroken, if they don’t like kids or cats, etc. If you’re the one taking your dog on a playdate at someone else’s house, it’s only polite to take responsibility for any mess your dog might make, whether it be something as simple as a potty break inside the house or accidentally breaking something.
You and your dog don’t have to spend the winter lying on the couch bored out of your minds. There’s plenty to do with your dog even if Mother Nature decides to dump three feet of snow outside your door. Just be a little creative and your dog will have a blast, happy to be playing with his best friend: you!
HArticle contributed by: Jennifer Matarese