Baby, It's Cold Outside
When the weather gets cold, it can be tough for your dog to receive enough exercise and mental stimulation to keep him from being bored, whiny, and a general nuisance. Depending on your dog’s size and breed, being outside when the temperatures dip below freezing may not even be safe. There are a number of activities that can be done indoors, requiring only a little bit of imagination!
Fun Activities to Keep Your Dog Active
Indoor Agility or Rally-O Course
Even if your dog is not trained to complete Agility, a fun activity for a cold or rainy day is using items that are readily available in the house to create a DIY course. The couch or ottoman can be a pause table, a bench can serve as a jump, and yardsticks or PVC pipes can be placed upright as makeshift weave poles. Have fun creating a course, training your dog to run through the obstacles, and trying to set a personal best time!
If there is not a suitable amount of space for Agility, try Rally-O. Set up 5 - 6 stations around the house that will serve as checkpoints for different obedience commands. For instance, at the first checkpoint, you can command your dog to sit. At the following checkpoint, ask your dog to lie down or shake, and so on. Try to see how fast you and your dog can complete the course.
Hide and Go Treat
Dogs that love to use their nose, such as hounds, can stay entertained for hours with this game. Kennel your dog or place him in a separate room while you hide treats around the house. Make the locations challenging, such as underneath pillows or blankets, or place treats inside a KONG, and then hide the KONG at the bottom of the toy bin. In the beginning, you may have to guide your dog to the various hiding spots until he gets the hang of this fun game, but once he understands the concept you will be amazed at how creative he will be trying to find your hiding spots!
For the dog who has extra energy to burn and loves to chase, make or purchase a flirt pole. Tie a string or rope around a stuffed animal, and tie the other end of the string to a long pole. Use the toy to get your dog’s attention, and then manipulate the pole to drag the toy across the floor, always out of your dog’s reach. Your pup will enjoy using his hunting instincts to try and catch the toy, and you will delight in a simple way to keep your dog entertained.
For high energy breeds that need a lot of exercise but being outdoors is not an option, consider treadmill training. Although not as mentally stimulating as running outside, the treadmill is a great alternative, and any used garage sale or craigslist model will work. Inquire with a local dog trainer for the do’s and don’ts of training.
Well, there you have it. At least a few fun ideas to get your couch potatoe dogs active and moving! We have extremely active dogs, and they are very difficult to keep tired. Worst case, if these don't work out then take them to doggie daycare for a day. That will buy you a day or two! And as far as mental stimulation goes, make sure to stock up on treat dispensers, puzzles, and antlers/chews. We have a ton to choose from and they're all very good quality. Check them out!
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