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Jan 8th

Ask the Trainer: Winter Activities for Dogs

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6745761375_e3ebd1e071The thermometer has fallen and the snow is drifting in the yard. The roads have iced over. Fido and Fluffy stare out the window, pleading for you to make the weather turn warm again.
No matter the conditions outside, your indoor dogs need exercise every day to help them stay healthy and fit. Here are some easy and fun ideas to help battle the winter woes when it just too darn cold to play outside.

Play Fetch

Locate a good space to play fetch and clear the path of all obstacles. Consider a carpeted area if your dog is elderly, has a physical ailment, or if your dog has long nails. Sliding on a slippery floor can be painful or startling if your pup can’t get a good grip.
Snatch up your pup’s favorite toy and get his attention. Toss it down the hallway or across the room and encourage him to go get it. Once he reaches the toy, call your dog back to you and repeat. If your dog has not learned to fetch (retrieve), have a second (but equally exciting) toy ready to toss when your pups returns to you. Toss the second toy when he drops the first. Playing fetch several times a day can be a great way to blow off steam for you and your dog!

Hide-and-Seek (Three Options)

1. Hide several high-value treats in the living room where you know your dog can find them. Encourage him with “FIND IT!” as he searches. Once he gets the game, hide the treat in more challenging locations such as in between couch cushions, under the corner of a rug, under a table, etc.
2. For dogs that are toy driven, follow the same protocol as the treats. Bury the toy in the pillows or under an old towel. I like burying a toy in a laundry basket full of old towels.
3. Hide yourself! I like hiding in the shower or behind a door. Let your dog find you and refrain from jumping out or startling your dog. When you are ready to advance, try hiding under a blanket. You are the reward; I dare to try to keep from giggling and giving yourself away!

Take Brief Walks or Play Outside

As long as you and your dog are safe and prepared for the winter weather at hand, several short but quick and intense walks or play sessions outside can be a good idea. Not all dogs are acclimated to cold temperatures (think Husky versus Greyhound) so ensure your dog is comfortable when you venture outside. Avoid wet weather. Short but energetic and active sessions are best.

Brain Games

Puzzle games, Kongs, and treat balls can all help alleviate boredom and keep your dog entertained and there many on the market to choose from. You can even use them to feed your dog his breakfast! If using treats, be mindful of what kind and how much, since it’s easy to add extra calories, salt, and sugar to your pup’s diet.
Photo by spaceamoeba on Flickr.

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