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Indoor Doggy Activities During the Winter

by Amy Hazelton.

As we prepare for the long haul of the winter months and the biting cold air of winter in CT, it can become a difficult chore giving your canine companion the exercise and mental stimulation that they desire. Unplowed snow banks and icy patches on sidewalks can make dog walking extremely difficult and even unsafe. The outdoors may even be too chilly or snowy for some dogs to even enjoy. Choosing to implement some fun indoor activities can help eliminate the boredom and cabin fever that winter can bestow on your dog.

Dog playing fetch during a daily walk

Fetch!

Teach your dog to play a game of fetch indoors. Many dogs of all breed types will love a good game of chasing a ball or plush toy down, snatching it up with their mouth, and bringing it back to you for another go. This helps to express their prey drive by chasing and grabbing something that is moving. This will also give them some physical exercise as they use their muscles and agility to chase down that toy.

Play fetch using a hallway or open doorway into another room to give them a maximum amount of space to play. If they have to navigate obstacles to get to the toy, this can benefit the growth of their reflexes and make them use their mind to think of how to get to the toy the fastest.


The Nose Game

Any breed, any age and any size may enjoy learning how to use their nose to get a reward. Start out by using a smelly treat and two boxes or cups that look identical. Show your pooch that you have one of their favorite treats, and quickly put it under one of the overturned boxes. Ask them, “Which one?” and let your dog investigate the boxes. If they paw at or push over one, let your dog see if there is a treat or not under it. When they find the correct box or cup, they get the reward and praise.

As your dog learns to use their nose to find the reward, switch the boxes or cups around and you can even add some more. Not only are you alleviating their boredom, but you are also fine tuning their senses and teaching them to use these senses along with their mind to make the correct choice that leads to a reward!

Hide & Seek

An old fashioned game of hide and seek takes a twist when your dog is always “it!” Have another player to stay with your furry friend while you find a great hiding place in your home. It can be under a bed or blanket, in a closet or standing in a corner in another room. Give the signal that you have found your spot by yelling “Okay!” to the other player. They will then tell the dog “Go find!”

You should call to your dog a couple of times to give them hints as to your location. Have a handful of treats so that each time they finds you, your dog gets rewarded for it! This increases their willingness to find you again in the next round!

fun winter activities for dogs in ct

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere!

Surprisingly, many dogs love bubbles! You can purchase non-toxic bubbles from any store that sells children’s toys, or make your own. It’s not recommended that dogs ingest a lot of children’s bubbles so if you make your own you can even add a little bit of scent using beef broth! You can also find bubbles specifically for dogs at pet stores as well as websites like Amazon. In a room that is easily cleaned, such as a kitchen, laundry room, or even bathroom blow the bubbles and get your dog excited about them!

Talk in a high pitched, excited voice and encourage your dog to get the bubbles! In no time, they will be bouncing up and down trying to catch bubbles before they hit the ground! This game is no longer just for cats, as dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes are taking part in the bubble game!

Get To Class!

If you and your pooch are trying to fight off the wintertime cabin fever blues, grab your coats and head to your local kennel club for Agility class! Agility is a dog sport in which a dog is taught how to navigate a laid out course with safe obstacles that they must jump over, run through, and climb over.

Your dog does not need to be an athlete or canine genius to take part in an Agility class. Dogs of varying ages and breeds love to learn this sport. Once they get the idea, they have a blast and want to come again and again! Products are also available to buy some obstacles to set up at home for fun and training!

indoor activities for dogs

Or Play Outside!

Of course, some dogs love the winter and enjoy rolling around in the snow. You can try many of these activities outside as well. Dogs of all sizes love to play fetch with snowballs! Much like the bubbles, encourage your dog to jump and chase the snowballs you make for them! If you have a yard, hide and seek can be a great game to play outside and even gets the kids involved in exercising the dog!

Just remember, if you choose to exercise your dog outside, don’t leave them out for long periods of time. Regardless of their fur, dogs can succumb to hypothermia much like people. When you bring your dog inside, make sure to thoroughly dry them off and check between the pads of their feet for packed snow. It may also be wise to wipe your dogs’ feet off with a warm, wet washcloth if playing in a place where salt was used to melt the ice. While you can buy animal safe salt for your own driveways, be cautious of public areas like streets, sidewalks, and parks that probably do not.

No matter what you choose to entertain your dog during the colder months in Connecticut, it is imperative that his body and mind are kept busy. A dog that is left to lay around the house all the time can become restless and develop behavioral problems that can lead to destruction of your couch or shoes! Keep that furry friend of yours active and intrigued, they will love you for it!

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