I’ve got a couple of great dogs. They are loving, smart, middle-aged mutts who are usually pretty good. Even the best dogs, like mine ;), get cabin fever when it’s polar vortexing outside. You take them on a walk and they start limping and crying from getting ice and salt in the pads of their feet, or they get straight up too cold, even after they’ve been wrestled into sweaters and booties.
So what do you do to fight against doggie ennui? Here are my top 5 strategies for keeping the pups happy during the coldest weeks of the year.
1. Play tug. Don’t have a tug toy already? Grab some spare polar fleece or a shelled out towel and play tug of war with them. My dogs just need to see a waving piece of fabric, and they can entertain each other for a good half hour.
2. Give them a puzzle toy. My dogs are all about their Kongs, which are toys that can be stuffed with treats that are hard to get out of, but there are many more puzzle dog toys to keep them busy for hours.
3. A little bit of outside time. Taking your dogs outside for even 10 or 15 minutes can do wonders, in my experience. You can throw snowballs or toys around, chase them in circles, anything to get them up and around! Just take them out in the hottest (possible) part of the day & keep an eye on their paws and ears :).
4. Siesta fiesta. Sometimes I watch a movie, work on a DIY project or take a nap on the couch with my dogs when I think they’re not getting enough stimulation. Even a half hour of individual attention does wonders for my pups!
5. Find it! Both Woodrow & Storm are terrier mixes, so they like to find things. My family’s favorite way to entertain the dogs inside is something we call Find It. One human and the dogs will hang out in a room with the door closed while the other human hides some dog treats around the house. Then, we let them out, prompting them to “find it!” When we first tried this game, we’d also show them our empty hands to let them know we weren’t holding any treats. Now, they’re fully aware of what’s happening when we say, “Find it!”
Woodrow wasn’t always awesome at Find It, but he’s gotten better over time. Storm has always been intensely competitive and awesome at Find It. She follows her nose and it takes her a long time to give up on looking for treats after all of them have been found.
On an unrelated note, Find It is also a great way to figure out just how far your dogs are physically able to reach! Storm tends to get into cooling cookies, and she had a big trash-tipping problem. Find It solved that mystery.
In the end, giving your dogs a daily activity or two in a cold snap is good for their health and will keep them from getting into mischief. Whether it’s a walk, puzzle, physical game, quick outing, or something else, there are a lot of easy ways to keep your dogs safe from cabin fever.