Even though it hasn’t felt like winter lately in some parts of the United States, the cold weather is beginning to roll in. With cold weather comes freezing rain and snow, which means neither you or your dog (unless you have a Northern breed) are going to be particularly excited about being outside. But don’t worry – we have some great ideas for activities that will still wear your dog out (physically and/or mentally) so she stops bouncing off the walls!
1. Practice Your Training
Cold, wet days are great to practice your training skills. Getting your dog thinking can be just as tiring as a romp at the park. If your dog has mastered the basics, such as sit, down, stay, etc., you can chain them together so that your dog has to do more for his reward. Don’t get too crazy at first – start with two or three commands and build up. For example, try a puppy push-up – ask your dog to sit, lay down, and sit again for a treat.
2. Stuff a Kong.
This is a good one for when your dog goes into his crate, or when you are leaving the house, and is probably the easiest one to do. Get a Kong, put some treats or kibble in it, seal it with peanut butter, and put it in the freezer until you need it. If you only have one dog, you can give it to her before you leave in the morning, and she can eat through the peanut butter to her breakfast! This is not a good idea if you have two dogs, no matter how well they share and get along when you are there. All bets are off with a high value treat like a peanut butter Kong!
3. Get or make some puzzle toys.
Ranging from somewhat easy to difficult, you can find puzzle toys in just about any pet store. You can also make some really fun (and easy) toys if you are the DIY-type.
Use your old t-shirts to make a toy for your pup.
Perfect for strong chewers or tug-of-war fans.
Really easy treat dispenser you can make from a tennis ball.
This puzzle toy is great for rainy days or high energy dogs.
All you need is a water bottle, treats, and a sock.
4. Play “Find it”.
Hide your dog’s favorite toys or bone around the house and tell them to “find it.” You might have to help them out at first and lead them to the toy/bone.
5. Play “Hide-n-Seek”.
You can also play “hide-n-seek” with people – have one person hide and then have your dog find the person. This is also great practice for the command “come”. After the person hides, they tell the dog to “come” and then the dog gets to go find them! This is especially fun if you have a bigger house with lots of rooms or multiple levels.
6. Try K9 Nose work.
K9 Nose Work is a newer craze for the companion dogs. It’s basically a modified version of scent training that police dogs and rescue dogs go through. Visit the K9 Nose Work website to search for trainers in your area that might be offering classes, but the beginning stages are pretty easy to do! You just start by putting treats in a box and letting your dog sniff them out. Then flip the box over so your dog has to knock over the box to get to the treat. Then you can stack boxes, always using the same one as the “treat” box. Pretty easy!
7. Go to an indoor agility class.
Check out places near you that offer dog training and see if they have an indoor agility class or open gym. Zoom Room is a franchise that has a few locations around the United States, but if one isn’t near you, look around for local trainers with facilities.