Winter is in full swing across many parts of the United States. And pups and pup parents might be dreading it, even if they love a winter wonderland. Cold temperatures mean less time outside and more restlessness. But fret not, because we’ve got some ways to keep dogs entertained, and dare we say the both of you might even start to look forward to the winter. So keep on reading to gather ideas for the upcoming season.
Gear Up for Outdoor Play
Even when the snow is falling, outside play is still an option. What it comes down to is the very best gear. Paws can be kept warm with a good pair of boots, that will take a little getting used to. Cold sensitive breeds could benefit from an insulated parka or other style coat. Humans will need to be appropriately dressed too, but we are sure you’ve already got that covered. All in all, outside play can be fun even when Jack Frost is in the air.
When the cold gets to be a little too much, or your dog shows signs of becoming too cold, such as sluggishness, the fun can continue inside. Teaching pups to “hunt” for a specific item can be fairly easy when treats are involved. But Figo has some other ideas for brain games that will stimulate and engage dogs indoors. All are pretty simple, requiring basic items from around the house, like a muffin tin.
Spending time teaching your fur baby a new trick is awesome for both engaging and bonding. Have small, healthy training treats on hand, and stick with one word to associate with that command. Teaching them to sit, gently pat their tush to encourage the action, while repeating your word. As soon as they do it, praise, praise, praise! Then repeat. This builds confidence too. These commands or “tricks” will come in handy big time down the road. Training is a solid investment of time.
Movement is so important for all dogs. And those with high energy are bound to get into mischief if too much of those wiggles don’t get let out in some way. Play fetch on the stairs, or just in a hallway as long as it can be done safely. Our tiny pups love to leap onto the couch to retrieve a toy. But really, any way movement can be encouraged is going to save you some sanity when wanting to just sit down and chill with a glass of wine at night.
Turn Treats Into an Energy Burning Game
Sure, you could just toss your pup a treat and be done with it. But why do that when it can be turned into an activity? I’m a huge advocate for Kong treat balls that peanut butter or small bits of kibble can be placed within. (Tip: Peanut butter can get messy!) Not only will this burn energy, but it will snuff out the over-the-top curiousness of a highly mischievous pup. We have a pug, so we know the struggle of zoomies and wild outbursts! This is a great activity that allows pet parents to relax a bit.
Staying inside isn’t easy! And it’s healthy to go out and about. Take walks, have play dates, and take drives to get through the winter blues. Keep in mind that this is all about perspective and mentality, and winter can be a great season. After the day is over, light some candles, make some hot chocolate, and finish things off with a snuggle with your best buddy!
Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.