We all spend a lot more time indoors during the winter months, and sometimes it can be a challenge to find ways to keep your dog happy both mentally and physically during famous Saskatchewan cold snaps. Here are some fun ways to beat the winter blues while staying warm, indoors!
Make Meal Time, Fun Time
Meal times offer wonderful opportunities to provide not only nutrition to your pet, but some mental stimulation as well. If you have a muffin tin, turn it upside-down and spread some kibble around the depressions. Your pet will need to explore each of the mini-mountains to find their food. Conversely, place the tin right-side up and put some kibble in the cups. Then, place tennis balls or balled-up socks over the kibble. Your pet will need to sniff out the food and remove the balls to get their food. Keep it interesting by leaving one or two empty! Another variation is to fill a box with crumpled-up newspaper and hide some kibble or treats inside. Be sure not to leave any shredded newspaper around when the meal is over. A variety of commercially produced treat games can also be purchased at most pet stores.
Fun and Games
Create a kibble scavenger hunt hiding some treats in a larger room in your home. Make it easy to find them, even putting a few out in the open to get the game going. To start, tell your dog “Go find them” and lead him to a pile of “hidden” kibble. Before long, your dog will get the idea and know that hearing “Go find them” means treats are about to happen! You can make them a little harder to find as they get better at the game, but not so hard as to make it so he can’t find them. Also, if your dog seems to lose interest or seems stressed because he can’t find the treats, make them easier to find.
Another fun game is to let your dog watch as you hide a treat under one of three upside-down plastic cups, then mix them around and ask your dog to find the cup with the treat under it. These games are fun and easy, and your dog will love them!
Treat Them with Toys
Treating your dog with new interactive toys helps to keep them engaged and presents them with new and varied challenges. Toys that also double as treat dispensers, like the classic rubber Kong, are great tools to keep your dog’s mind active during the cold winter months.
Exercise – Indoors!
Have a game of Hide and Seek where you hide in a room and your dog needs to sniff you out, or a game of tug-of-war, both of which are great ways to get your dog’s heart pumping. Even 15-30 minutes of play goes a long way to helping keep your pet mentally and physically happy.
Winter Time is Training Time
Consistent, reward-based training is very important for your pet’s overall well-being. It helps puppies get off on the right paw, and helps adult dogs to thrive. The Regina Humane Society offers a wide array of group training classes all year, including indoor classes during the winter.
For more information about our classes, visit our dog training website.