Beating the Dog Days of Winter

Hi All! 

Bastian is back with a brand new edition! Now that winter is upon us, and boy do I know this well as the walks seem to be getting shorter and shorter, you people are probably struggling to find some fun activities to help your dog play while stuck in the house.  Me personally?  The temperatures here in St. Louis were between -5 and 15 degrees the last few weeks, so my normal three walks a day have went from a total of an hour and an half to just about 30 minutes.  It’s pretty darn cold out there though, so it’s a tough call if I actually want to get out or not.  On the one paw, I like to get out of the house, it’s a little cooped up in here.  On the other paw, man is it cold or what?  I’m getting frosty paws and not the frozen treat kind!  There are also 2 beds to choose from, 3 if you count the big one (don’t tell anyone, I’m not supposed to get on it – while the cat’s away, the dog will play, amiright?), so at least I’m comfortable.  It would be nice if they stopped cranking the heat way up though. 

Anyway, my point to all this is that if your pup is stuck inside during this weather, our friends at presented some brilliant ideas to help keep your dog active during these dog days of winter (does that work?):

1. Play a game with your dog.

Hide-and-seek is a wonderful way to get your dog up and moving and mentally engaged. You can hide a treat or his favorite toy, but it’s better to make him come find you. Start by throwing a treat to get her to go away from you, and then hide in another part of the house. This game can really tire your pup out as she rushes around searching, and it’s good for reinforcing the “come” command.

2. Challenge your dog’s nose.

Dogs have incredibly powerful scenting abilities, so exercises that require your pal to use her nose are especially stimulating. Make her work for her dinner by creating an obstacle course she has to get through to find her food. Hide her meal in a box or a toy.

3. Dog treadmills and indoor walking.

There are treadmills on the market designed specifically for dogs. But if you cannot afford one of these, use a human treadmill—but take the right precautions. Spend a few days familiarizing your dog with how it works. Use a slow speed and stand in front of the treadmill with a treat. Over three or four days, slowly increase the speed and the amount of time your pup spends on the treadmill. Work up to the same amount of time you normally spend on walks.

4. Sign your dog up for a class.

Sign up for an indoor agility or swimming class. Flyball provides good exercise, and a class comes with the added benefits of allowing your dog to socialize and boosting his mental agility by learning something new. Also, many cities have facilities with doggie swimming pools.

5. Practice targeting.

Being indoors gives you a great opportunity to practice targeting with your dog. Teach her to touch her nose to the back of your hand on command; this will make her focus on a target. It’s a great exercise because it gives you an activity you can do together. And once your pup has learned how to do this, you can use it whenever you want her to stop what she’s doing and focus. For example, if you’re out walking and she becomes excited when she sees another dog, you can use targeting to redirect her attention. Plus, your dog can’t bark when she’s touching her nose to your hand!




Tom SchmidtComment