Rain or shine, your dog relies on you to be their workout buddy. It’s no problem staying active during the dog days of summer, but how can we exercise our four-legged friends and avoid cabin fever during the chilliest months? If you can’t stand the rain but your dog doesn’t mind getting wet, you can schedule a dog walk on a rainy day. If you’re in a quick match area, your dog could be singing in the rain in as little as an hour. Here are 8 fun indoor activities that will help you and your pooch beat the wintertime blues and burn off some energy.
Brush up on your fancy tricks
Those gray winter days are the perfect time to teach your dog some fun new tricks. To start, play off what your dog knows; if they’ve mastered “shake” you can easily transition into a “high five.” Keep sessions short so Fido can absorb the new commands and get ready to show off at those upcoming holiday parties. Winter is also a great time to introduce or refresh clicker training with your dog. ‘Clicking with Your Dog‘ is a great foundation book to get your started.
The flirt pole is basically fishing for your dog. You can create something at home or purchase a flirt pole pre-made. All you really need is a stick, some string, and any kind of toy that really gets your dog fired up and ready to chase. Lure your dog around you or around the house so you both get tired out, and enjoy getting your dog good and tired inside.
Find It and Hide and Seek
Turn your dog into a detective by sprinkling treats around the house for them to sniff out. Teach them the game by tossing the food their way and saying “find it.” Once they’ve mastered that, you can challenge them by hiding the treats in another room. Start with something extra smelly and delicious like liver or fish to get them started. Don’t hide treats anywhere you don’t want your dog nosing around— like inside shoes! “Find it” can also morph into hide and seek once your dog understands the command
What’s better than a new toy? A toy that rewards your dog with a treat! Treat puzzles keep your dog stimulated and well fed. They come in a variety of styles (check out our favorites here), from a basic stuffed Kong to interactive and challenging treat puzzles. The mental exercise can help calm your cooped-up canine, while the yummy food reward will keep them coming back for more.
While your dog may not be the next agility champion, an in-home obstacle course is a fun way for the two of you to play inside. Whether you build jumps out of couch cushions or purchase some basic agility supplies like a tunnel or weave poles, working together to get through the obstacles strengthens your relationship and builds confidence.
Fetch and Tug
You can’t beat the old standbys, indoor fetch (with an appropriate soft toy or ball) is a fun way to get your dog moving. Make the game more challenging by asking your dog to do a trick for each toss. Tug-o-war with a soft toy or rope is another great indoor game. Dogs love it because it gives them an outlet for their canine urges to grab and shake, while giving you an opportunity to work on cues like “give” and “gentle.”
Doggy IQ Test
Want to test your dog’s smarts? There are plenty of ways to test your dog’s IQ at home. You don’t need any special equipment. You can test your dog’s skills with everyday items and some high-value treats. Even if they aren’t the world’s greatest problem solvers, it’s great mental exercise and fun for both of you.
Indoor Dog Park
If your dog is still raring to go after all of these fun activities, search your community for an indoor off-leash dog park. You can take your dog for a group playdate, work on obstacles or just rent a private room for the two of you to hang out in. Indoor dog parks get you some much needed time out of the house, but still keep you warm and dry.
We know the urge to hibernate is strong, but playing games and challenging your dog will help you both stay active until good weather returns. No matter what the activity, it all adds up to more quality time with your best friend.
Featured image: Imgur/Hunta
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