Baby it’s cold outside! And while many dogs may love the cooler temps, in the dead of winter, it can be too much of a good thing. So if your pups are suffering from cabin fever like mine are, what can you do to help them beat the winter blues?
Indoor games to entertain and stimulate their senses is a great way to pass an afternoon. One game is to take a muffin tin, fill it with small treats and cover with tennis balls. Put the tin on the ground, take out a ball to show your dog the treat and then watch her work to get all the balls out and find the treats. It’s fun to watch them learn how the game works and you’ll likely find yourself having a good time too!
Another game is hide the treat. Get some small treats, like cheerios, and place them in various places around the room. Make sure your dog is in another room and when ready release him so he can use his nose to find every last morsel. My girls love this game. Their tails wag feverishly as they sniff out every inch of the floor to make sure they don’t leave any pieces behind!
Even though it’s cold outside, you can still take a short brisk walk. To make it even more interesting, warm up the car and drive someplace you don’t normally walk. Keep it to 15 or 20 minutes and crank up the heat on the drive home. The light and fresh air will help both you and your dog feel better.
Winter months are the perfect time to sign up for an agility class. Whether you intend to compete or not, this sport is popular for a reason. If you’ve never watched an agility trial, then you need to tune into the Westminster Kennel Club which takes place this Sunday Feb 11. Televised coverage will be aired from 2 - 4:30 pm on FOX. Teaching your dogs how to master the obstacles not only provides a lot of exercise, but builds up confidence. Until last year, I have been taking my dogs to agility classes once a week. It was without a doubt the highlight of their week. One day after my life gets less crazy, I plan to get back into it.
Have a friend who has a dog? Then set up doggy play dates alternating houses to give each dog home territory advantage. It helps having two dogs because they will play with and thus experience less boredom. Socialization is good for all dogs and you’ll probably benefit from time spent with a companion as well.
Winters are the best time to curl up on the couch and read some books you’ve been meaning to for months. Why not grab a cup of hot chocolate, wrap yourself up in a blanket and ask your favorite furry friend to join you? Pets need love and attention too and this will help both of you spend a few hours enjoying some quiet time.
Hope these tips will help you get through the rest of winter! I know just writing this has been a reminder of some things I can do with Izzy and Kita the next time an arctic blast blows through central PA. If you have and special ways of how to combat the winter blues with your dog, I’d love to hear what they are! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email. In the meantime, stay warm!