Canines need just as much exercise as you do. Getting in that daily walk is pretty straightforward when it's warm outside.
In the winter, though, it can be a little tricky — especially if you have dogs that aren't well-suited to colder climates. But if your pups don't get as much exercise in the winter as they're used to in the summer, they can gain weight, lose muscle, or develop behavioral issues.
You know your dog loves chewing, and a new toy is one of the best gifts you can give them. Consider a new toy or two; even though some dog toys can be expensive, you'll get your money's worth over the long, cold winter months.
Being indoors more than usual can put a damper on your pup's curiosity. Playing hide-and-seek is a great way to keep your dog in their best mental shape. One of the most fun variations of this game is to use a towel and put some of your dog's dry kibble or some treats in the middle, then roll the towel up along the long side. Tie the ends in a knot and watch your pup have fun trying to find the treats they can smell.
You've likely seen videos of dogs and their owners playing, "which cup is it in?" A fun variation on this game, especially if you're trying this out for the first time, is playing "which hand is it in?" It's a fantastic way to keep your dog's brain power up while it's cold outside.
Put a piece of kibble or a treat in one hand, close both hands, and put them in front of your dog. Your dog can "choose" which hand holds the treat by sniffing at your hands. When your dog chooses correctly, offer the treat — if not, let your dog have another shot at it.
Dogs that have had any obedience training can pick up on chores pretty quickly. If your dog also knows what some of the objects in your home are called, you can assign them tasks.
For instance, are there dirty clothes on your bathroom floor? Teach your pup to pick these up and put them in the hamper. Dogs can even be taught how to bring things to you.
Popping bubbles indoors can keep your pup entertained for hours. Start with pet-friendly, non-toxic bubbles. Your dog may need to be trained on how to pop the bubbles. Just blow a couple at a time, point to them, or pop them yourself on the first few tries. Offer treats when your dog catches on.
Your dog can put on a few extra pounds over the winter months — but don't we all? Even though it's normal, you can keep your pup in good physical and mental shape by making them work for a treat. Try toys that dispense a treat or feeders that dispense just a few kibble at a time, which keeps your dog's mental prowess in shape and stops them from inhaling the entire lot in 30 seconds or less.
Talk about an entertaining activity for the little dogs in your home whose shorter legs and bodies tend to sink over their heads into the snow. It's great for bigger dogs, too; they can run and have fun in the snow. Plus, a maze's "trail-like" features are perfect for keeping dogs' instincts sharp.
Either indoors or outdoors, a scavenger hunt is great fun for your dog, and it helps them get the exercise they need. Breeds that are more active than others need jobs; a scavenger hunt is a fun way to fulfill that. You can hide a favorite toy or treat somewhere and see how long it takes for your pup to find it. You can even make yourself the "treat" and see how long your dog takes to find you.
Your dog can still have fun without a well-planned or choreographed game. If you have a job that keeps you away from home most days, they'll be happy just getting to play with you. You can play many games indoors, such as fetch or tug-of-war. What you play matters little — what matters is that you engage your pup in a bit of fun.
Your pup will love the chance to romp around in the snow if you ensure they're warm and pay attention to how long they're out. Big dogs with longer fur can tolerate up to about 30 minutes, whereas smaller dogs, especially those with shorter hair, should have outdoor time in shorter intervals. If you notice any discomfort, it's time to go back inside. You know your pup best, and if snow is a no-go, plan playtime indoors only.
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