Francis in the snow

Winter can be hard on humans and canines alike. We take for granted how easy it is to entertain our dogs when the weather is nice. So, how can we make sure our dogs don’t go stir-crazy when the weather outside is frightful? Here are a few ideas to help keep you and your pup be content when outdoors isn’t an option.

Tricks: Teaching tricks is a GREAT way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Not only do they add to your dog’s repertoire of behaviours, they are also great for helping to develop critical skills like thinking and learning. Tricks can range from super-simple to very extensive and complicated. They are loads of fun and will definitely help tire out your dog. Need some trick ideas? Check out our Trick Tuesday playlist.

Shaping: This is a fun way to expel some mental energy and add to your dog’s understanding of behaviours you are working on. Unfamiliar with shaping? Check out this Trick Tuesday post – an introduction to Shaping.

Scent Games: Teach your dog to find the cookie! This is a fabulous game for getting in a good deal of mental stimulation without a lot of space or resources. Start off simple. Hide a cookie in plain sight. Have your dog out of the room while you do. When you let them in, tell them to “find the cookie!” Help them out if necessary by pointing out the cookie. Remember that they won’t initially understand the game. As they get the idea, start to hide the cookie so they have to use their nose to find it. Great fun!

Tug: Playing tug has many benefits including expelling energy, building bonds and games with you and helping to teach the rules of play. A few critical things that go along with tugging:

  1. The toy is always yours. Your dog shouldn’t try to touch it until you’ve given permission
  2. The toy is ALWAYS yours! Your dog should give it up willingly when you say so.
  3. It is their responsibility to be careful with their mouth. Dogs have the ability to be very precise when it comes to what they touch with their teeth. Playing tug is a great way to teach them that their teeth can’t ever touch your skin. The second you feel teeth, the game needs to end.

These are just a few ideas to keep you and your dog busy when outdoor activities aren’t an option. Keeping your dogs mentally stimulated will ensure a peaceful household.

Have fun!