Cabin fever doesn’t just affect humans. Your dog’s mood can also drop from a lack of sunlight and outdoor time. Make a point this winter to keep your dog active and engaged indoors and help him or her stay happy and healthy in both mind and body all the way to spring. We humans change our routines to stay healthy in winter, too, so why wouldn’t we also change our pups’? Here are a few fun indoor activities to keep in your back pocket for the cold months.
Take the stairs
You might not be able run free around a dog park in January, but you can get their heart rate up and some endorphins released by hitting the stairs. Your staircase is a small space, but it’s a prime structure for engaging your dog’s largest muscle – so their movement makes for a potent workout. Stand at the top of your staircase and toss a toy or a treat to the bottom for your dog to grab. Call him up and repeat. If you feel like you could use a workout too, join your dog as he or she runs up and down.
Schedule play dates
Staying social in winter is important for all of us, right? Whether your dog has their social behaviour down pat, or he or she could still use some more practice, hangouts with other dogs is always great for your pup. In the long, dark days of winter, it could even be like a breath of fresh air for them. Plan a few dog play dates with friends with dogs both indoors, or outdoors – because walking in the cold with a pal might help motivate you to get moving outside, too!
Get a puzzle toy
Just like humans benefit from puzzles, so do dogs! A puzzle toy is designed to stimulate their mind while you’re not there to engage. These are basically interactive, treat-dispensing (or food-free) games built with levers, velcro, buttons or flaps that your dog can explore with their paws and teeth. If your dog loves getting into boxes or opening up cupboards, a puzzle toy could be their new favourite thing in your home. Check out the Kruuse BUSTER ActivityMat or the Kong Ballistic Hide N’ Treat and get your dog hooked on an interactive toy for the winter.
Teach them a new trick
Learning a new trick is rewarding for both you and your dog. Make it a new year’s resolution to take his or her obedience to the next level this year, and start with perfecting tricks your dog already knows, like sit, stay, shake a paw, and lay down. Or, if you’re a little more ambitious, try a new one or two (kisses or hugs, anyone? How about a dance?) Make a trick bucket list for winter if you want to get really active indoors.
Give him or her a massage
Give your best friend a break from the hard work of being your four-legged companion and give them some real body loving! Touch therapy for your dog has benefits that span from physical to emotional to psychological. You don’t need to take them to a doggy spa to give them a real treat. The next time you’re Netflix-and-chilling together, take an everyday belly rub to the next level. Gently knead in circular motions around the shoulders and areas around the joints and spine, and let him or her guide your movements as they move around.
You’ll still brave a few walks outdoors (make sure your dog is properly winterized!) but having some ideas for keeping your dog happy indoors all winter is the key to having a comfy, healthy season. It’ll be spring before we know it!