We have been lucky so far this winter to have warmer days that allow us extra outdoors time with our pets but soon it will be cold, snowy, and icy which will make exercising our pets much harder. Some dogs will play outside no matter the temperature or weather, but that doesn’t mean you want to join them so here are some fun activities you can do with your dog this winter to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
- Enroll in a training class. Even if your dog is well-behaved and knows many of the basics, training classes are a great way to bond and spend quality time with your dog in a new environment. The new sights, sounds, people, and dogs will be very stimulating for your dog and will help tire them out more than if you were at home. You might even meet a friend for your dog so you can schedule puppy play dates throughout the winter. There are many different types of classes beyond basic obedience, so maybe you and your dog can find a new hobby or sport to try this winter. If you have a reactive or fearful dog, there are classes that are designed for you too! These classes will give you the tools you need to help your dog feel more comfortable.
- Brush up on training at home. Is there something you have always wanted to teach your dog but never do? Try it this winter! There are plenty of training videos and suggestions online. You could learn a new behavior every week or month, depending on how ambitious you feel! Just be sure the videos you find use only POSITIVE training methods. One suggestion you could try is putting names with all of your dog’s toys and ask them to bring them to you by name. You could also then hide the toys around the house and ask your dog to find them.
- Practice recalls in the house. One activity that is fun and productive is practicing having your dog come when called while in the house. This is best done with multiple people. Have each person pick a place in the house and call the dog to keep them running back and forth for a while. You could have people switch locations each time and play hide and go seek with the dog. To play the game alone, teach your dog a reliable “stay”, ask them to “stay” while you hide then call them to you.
- Feed your dog in a puzzle feeder. This will help enrich your dog’s mind. There are many different models of puzzle feeders so switch them up or get create with what is in your house. You could hide kibble in empty bottles, boxes, or paper bags and let your dog figure out how to get it out (bonus: let your dog tear apart the boxes or paper bags. It will make a mess but your dog will have a great time).
- Hide food and treats around the house. Then let your dog sniff them out!
- Go to pet-friendly stores. Bring your dog to your local pet store and explore up and down the aisles. Work on some training while you’re at it. Finally, end the excursion with some new treats or toys! To find out which stores are dog-friendly, check out this list by Huffington Post. Always call your local store to be sure you can bring your pooch along.
- Get creative. You know best what your pooch likes so find new and exciting ways to stay active this winter together!