Have you noticed your dog become more lethargic and lazier during the cold winter months? Or, have you noticed your dog exhibiting bad behavior during the winter like tearing up furniture or being more aggressive and hyper?
Cold weather and being cooped up indoors all winter can make both you and your pup a little stir-crazy. Even though it’s cold outside, your dog still needs to get his daily exercise. But, how to get moving when you’re stuck inside? Read on for several creative indoor activities to get your pup moving this season.
Hide & Seek
In traditional hide and seek, one person hides silently, while others search for them. To modify this fun game to play with your dog, whoever is the one hiding will need to call the dog’s name. When your dog finds you, reward him with a treat. Hide and seek is a fun way for your dog to get his exercise while indoors because he will be running all over the house looking for you.
Food Puzzle Toys
There are some great toys on the market that will help your pup get exercise while using his thinking skills too. One of these toys is a food-dispensing toy. The other is a food puzzle toy. Use these with your dog by putting treats in the toys and watching your dog work to get them out.
Snuffle Mat for Dogs
The Snuffle Mat for Dogs is designed for slow feeding training and encourages your pup’s foraging skills. This toy not only provides pups with some exercise while cooped up indoors, but it also has several other benefits. This toy can be used for dog training to develop your dog’s foraging skills, helping him learn to use his nose to hunt for food.
Foraging around in this mat for treats can help relieve stress and anxiety for your dog, especially during times when you are away and he is home alone. This toy is machine washable, so you can use it again and again.
Wisedom Dog Treat Ball IQ
The Wisedom Dog Treat Ball IQ is an interactive food-dispensing puzzle toy. This toy is excellent for keeping your dog mentally stimulated while getting some exercise. This toy is a good size for medium to large dogs. Solving puzzles is a great way to keep your pup engaged during the winter months when you are both stuck indoors.
Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Beginner Dog Puzzle Toy
The Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Beginner Dog Puzzle Toy is an interactive treat-dispensing game. This game is listed as a beginner or level 1 interactive game that is designed to prepare your pup for more challenging puzzles. This toy is great for exercise, mental stimulation, and slow feeding. Puzzle toys are great for redirecting your dog’s destructive behavior that he may exhibit when cooped up in the wintertime.
Fetch & Tug of War
Simple games that dogs love to play outside include fetch and tug of war. You can play these games inside with some slight modifications. You can play fetch with your dog in the house if you have a long hallway or a large, open room. To make sure nothing gets broken, use a soft, plush toy to throw around instead of a tennis ball or harder object. For tug of war, all you need is a short rope, piece of cloth, or toy.
Indoor Obstacle Course
A fun activity you can do when you are stuck indoors is to create an obstacle course with items you already have lying around the house. You can simply use items you have such as cushions, chairs, toys, and pillows. The key is to make an obstacle course that will help your dog get moving. Use objects around the house that he will need to jump over, crawl through, or run around. You may want to use treats to reward him when he gets through the obstacle course.
Dogs instinctively enjoy searching and “hunting” for things. To get your dog moving and using his instincts in the house, you may want to try a scavenger hunt with his food, or with some treats. Hide some of his favorite treats around the house and watch him hunt them down.
Doggy Play Date
Schedule a play date with other pet parents. You can bring your pup to a friend’s house, or have them bring their dog to yours. Playing with other dogs will be good exercise while also being a good way to socialize your pup during the winter. Provide the dogs with toys and let them run around.
Classes & Training Sessions
Taking your dog to classes during the winter serves multiple purposes. One, both you and he will get out of the house. Two, he will get the exercise he needs. And, three, he will get to socialize with other dogs.
There are a ton of different kinds of classes for dogs so there is something out there for every pup. You may want to take him to obedience training to brush up on his behavior or teach him a new skill. Or, you may want to try out some agility or sports classes like swimming or fly ball.
There are also a ton of classes out there for pet parents to do with their pups. You may want to sign up for a doggy and me yoga class, for instance. To find some of these great classes, look up your local dog gym or daycare. Many of these establishments offer fun and unique classes to try out.
Treadmills are a great way to get moving while stuck indoors. If you have a treadmill in your home, you can train your dog to use it. Start your dog off on the slowest speed to help him get used to the treadmill. When your dog begins to get used to the treadmill, you can slowly increase the speed.
Every dog is different, so the amount of time it will take one pup to get used to the treadmill may be different from another one. You may want to give your dog treats every once in a while to keep him motivated to stay on the treadmill.
If your dog enjoys the treadmill, you may want to get him one of his own. There are treadmills made especially for dogs. These are great for small spaces. If, however, your dog does not like the treadmill, you may want to try alternative forms of exercise. The treadmill is not for everyone.
The dogPACER Minipacer Treadmill
The dogPACER Minipacer Treadmill is designed for dogs. This treadmill has adjustable speeds settings from 0.5 miles per hour to 7.7 miles per hour, up to 0.1 miles per hour increments. The running area of 38 x 16 is made for small to medium-sized dogs. There is a computer with several fitness programs for your dog to try out.
How Does Winter Weather Affect Dogs’ Behavior?
All kinds of winter weather can have an impact on your pup’s behavior. Rain, snow, changing temperatures and changing air pressure and humidity levels can all have an effect on how your dog feels and consequently behaves.
Different dog breeds may react in different ways to cold winter weather. Breeds like Siberian Huskies and Saint Bernards, for instance, may become peppier during the winter because they have naturally thick winter coats and are generally built for cold temperatures.
Smaller, leaner dogs may feel more lethargic and want to stay curled up on the couch with you all winter long. You may want to try giving these pups a warm, doggy jacket before you attempt to go for a winter walk outdoors. Even with warm winter gear, some days are just too cold to get outside.
Kuoser Cozy Waterproof Windproof Reversible Winter Coat
The Kuoser Cozy Waterproof Windproof Reversible Winter Coat is designed with a hook and loop closure so you can easily put it on and take it off your pup. This vest-style jacket is wind and waterproof so it is great for cold winter walks.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Your Dog Active This Winter
No matter what breed of dog you have, your dog will be influenced by your response to winter weather. If you like to get outside and exercise in the wintertime, your pup will likely be on board. If you would rather curl up and watch movies during cold weather days, your dog will likely be on board for that too.
If you do tend to hibernate during winter, your pup may get bored from lack of physical and mental stimulation and may act out in destructive ways, such as chewing on the furniture or displaying aggression. For this reason, it is important for both you and your furry friend to get moving this winter.
There are a ton of creative ways to keep your dog active this winter. Try out some of the ideas we’ve provided, or make up some of your own variations. The key is to get moving and give your dog opportunities for physical and mental activity to keep him healthy and happy during cold, winter months.