(DISCLAIMER: We are dog trainers and pet sitters. Any tips or information in these blogs are things we have found helpful in our years of experience. We are not veterinarians and any questions about health or nutrition should be directed to your veterinarian.)
I look out the window at the at the softly falling snow. A gentle wind blows the snow across the ground. I appreciate the beauty of winter until I look at the thermometer, it’s a whopping 5 degrees and the wind chill makes it feel like -10. My Australian Cattle Dog, Sheila, sits by the door and looks at me hopefully wanting to go for a run or have a nice, long game of fetch. “Sorry Sheila” I say “Looks like we’re going to have to play inside. Again.”
This is a problem dog owners run into every winter. Your dog is bored. You know they need exercise, but its too cold to have them outside for longer than a few minutes. So what’s a dog owner to do? Here are a few ideas to help keep the winter boredom at bay.
Winter is a great time to enroll your dog in a training class. Obedience training is a great way to not only teach your dog manners but to challenge their mind. Teaching your dog something new is a great way to burn energy. If you think about the last time you had to do something mentally challenging such as taking a test, preparing for a presentation at work, or doing your taxes, you probably felt pretty tired afterwards. The same is true for your dog. Besides obedience classes, there are also classes that teach tricks, nose work, and dogs sports such as Agility or Flyball. There is a class out there for every dog and every interest.
It is possible to exercise your dog indoors. Some dogs really enjoy learning to walk on a treadmill. In fact, I think they like it more than most humans do. The important thing to remember is to be safe and start the treadmill very slowly at first. As they get more comfortable, you can start to increase the speed.
If you have an open area in your house, you could also play fetch with your dog indoors. Instead of using a tennis ball that could potentially break lamps or TVs, use a soft cloth ball and don’t throw as far as you would outside. When using a shorter throw, you can also teach your dog to “Catch” the ball and bring it back to you.
As a kid, you probably enjoyed playing “Hide and Seek”. Well, your dog does too! Take several small treats and hide them throughout the house for your dog to find. This will work your dog’s nose and his mind as he searches for the treats. You can also do this before you leave the house to keep your dog entertained while you are gone.
If you see your dog as the intellectual type, there are plenty of puzzle toys out there to challenge your dog’s mind. You hide treats in the compartments of the puzzle and your dog will have to slide doors open or flip doors up to get to the treats. There are also treat dispensing balls that your dog rolls around the floor to dispense the treats. To help avoid weight gain, instead of using treats, you can feed your dog his dinner in a puzzle. My dog, Sheila, loves it!
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to have fun with your dog even when the weather is bad. Until next time, stay warm Pawty fans!
Pet Sitter/Dog Trainer
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