Avoiding dog boredom when wintery weather keeps you indoors

Watching the rain come down: wet weather is no fun for dogs or owners

We do try to keep up dog walking in winter but it can be hard and inevitably we tend to make more effort on weekends or nicer days! There will, however, be some days when the weather is just too bad, or some days when by the time we get back from work or other errands it is just too dark outside, not to mention bitterly cold.

If you don’t get your walk, you can make up for it, but many dogs need daily activity and entertainment and missing out too often may lead to behaviour problems as well as weight problems and anxiety, not to mention dog boredom.

In the gardenMuddy dog in the Garden by Ann Hornyak

If you do have a garden then you may want to send your dog out, but on some days the weather will be so bad that either they won’t go out or won’t go out for long. This depends on how fussy your dog is: some we’ve come across would rather spend the day with a full bladder than get one paw wet. Other dogs, of course, are happy to get wet and muddy, maybe as much as possible and you then have to decide what to do with them when they’re ready to come in. Your dog may want to play outside too, you can always throw a ball or other toy from the shelter of the doorway and our Day and Night glow in the dark football may be perfect for playing at dusk or later.

In the Home

Toys

Most toys keep either dogs’ brains active or their jaws active or both, few encourage the kind of games that burn off very much energy.

Brain Training

Dogs should be mentally stimulated regularly and so a wet evening may be a good chance to do something a bit different with your dog and get out a brain training activity toy, these include the Trixie Dog Activity Kicker where your dog can retrieve a treat by moving a series of levers; other toys let your dog find snacks by moving pieces to reveal them, as with the Doggy Brain Train-Shell Dog toy

Treat Dispensers

the Kong classic WobblerTreat dispensers can keep bored dogs occupied and some even include an activity for your dog to get the treat.

Kong treat toys are among the best known and as well as the classic toy there are a whole range of Kong toys each with a slightly different challenge for your dog to get their treats.

There are a number of other dispensers on the market too,  including the Boomer Snack Ball that involves more control and movement for your dog as they have to roll the ball around to get the treat. The Hunter dog toy snack bottle is one of the most original designs we’ve come across and one of the most challenging.

Exercise

Tread mills for dogs? They do exist, but even if you have the money and space for one, a lot of dogs don’t really enjoy them and don’t get any real enjoyment out of them.

Providing real exercise for dogs indoors is really challenging and the smaller your home and the larger your dog are, the harder it gets.

Dog Games

Games for dogs are a good way to get your dog active indoors and some dog games are especially well suited to helping your dog burn energy without much space.

Small dogs and puppies may be able to play fetch indoors but even then you may lose a few ornaments and lamps along the way.  A better version for indoors is bouncing a ball off a wall, ideally a wall you don’t mind becoming marked; the dog has to wait in front of the wall and can then jump as the ball goes in whichever direction. Playing this for a while can be quite tiring for your dog and it is great agility training.

dog plays tug of war by Justin CozartPlaying tug of war may be possible even with medium to large dogs using a toy rope, ring or ball on a rope, this means the dog uses their entire body strength including their legs but without having to bound around. Of course, you need to be as strong as your dog for this to really work and if you have a corridor in your home this may be the best place to play tug ( having removed any breakables first).

If you like to dance, then why not let your dog join in? You may be loath to get your dog excitable indoors and having them storming around the house to burn off excess energy but what if you can get them to go wild by dancing with them? Do this in one place where there is some space (allow extra room for a wagging tail); after practice your dog may get better at mimicking your dancing moves too. There is a version of this game used by many trainers known as ‘go wild and freeze’, which is a little like the children’s game musical statues: stop the music and tell your dog to sit, only once they obey will the music be put back on and the dancing continue.Dancing Dog

Please remember that whatever activities you have for your dog indoors or out it is important to make sure that the environment is safe and be aware that dogs can cause damage while playing.

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