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Is Your Dog Feeling the Winter Boredom Blues?

With the cold weather many of our active dogs receive less exercise which can lead to boredom and inappropriate behavior.

Is your dog starting to "act out" from receiving less exercise during the cold winter months? While spring isn't so far away, providing our dogs with some indoor mental enrichment can help improve their behavior and mental and physical health.

Dog trainer Mikkel Becker, CPDT-KA, CTC provides a series of ideas on the Zuke's website, in addition to getting in as many regular walks as you can. Some ideas for indoors play include:

  • Playing tug with your dog can be a very physical activity depending on how enthusiastically you play it. It's also a great opportunity to reinforce sits or other behaviors by asking the dog to do something before it gets the chance to keep tugging.

  • If you have enough space in your home, such as a long hallway, retrieving is a great option and can even be done without you yourself doing much exercise other than throwing the ball or toy. Just make sure the toys you use are appropriate and aren't likely to break something if they hit a wall or piece of furniture. Retrieve is also another game you can use to reinforce other behaviors by asking your dog to do something in exchange for throwing the toy.

  • "Fishing pole" toys are another wonderful option. These toys are basically long wands with a string and toy attached at the end, similar to a cat toy. You can have the dog chase the toy around while relaxing on your couch watching TV.

  • If you have enough space in your home, you can even make a small agility course. You can have the dog do "weaves" through objects such as cones or buckets or chairs, and use a small tunnel if you have the room. Hula hoops are another option for teaching the dog to jump (and also fun for teaching tricks!)

  • "Round robin recalls" are a way of practicing your recall cue, where two or more people call the dog to them and reward, and then the next person calls and so on. 

  • Use the dog's meals to provide enrichment. You can feed the dog's kibble in a variety of food stuffed toys, or hide kibble in cardboard boxes around your living room. Get creative and find places to hide kibble so your dog really has to think and work for it.

These are just a few of the ideas on the Zuke's blog for keeping your dog entertained and active. Be creative and have fun!

Photo credit: Laika Patiently Waiting via photopin (license)


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