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  • Writer's pictureBrooke Lewis

Indoor Fun and Games To Keep Your Dog Busy on Cold Winter Days


As we head into February we are all starting to get a little cabin fever. Here are a few fun suggestions to keep your pups busy on those cold winter days.

1. Food dispensing toys: I may sound like a broken record but I LOVE food dispensing toys. The right toys can keep your dog busy for an hour or more if they are motivated. My favorites:

Pet Safe Squirrel Dude


Kong Wobbler

Remove rope for heavy chewers
Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug

2. Hide-N-Seek: Put your dog in a sit/stay or have a human helper keep your dog distracted while you hide. Then call to your dog and see if he can find you!

3. Scent Games:

Guess the Hand Game: Hold a treat in the fist of one hand and ask your dog to figure out which hand has the treat.

Three Cup Game: Gather 3 disposable cups and place them upside down. Put a treat under one of the cups and ask your dog to figure out which one has the treat.

4. New tricks: Below are just 2 of the 46 tricks that can be found on Dog Training by Kikopup on YouTube

5. Modified Agility Course: You can use household items to create a fun obstacle course. Line up chairs to weave your dog through, a couch cushion can be used as a pause table to practice sits and downs, blankets and chairs can be used to create tunnels (similar to forts we use to make indoors as kids), or tie a hula hoop between two chairs to make a jump. The possibilities are endless.

6. Tug -A -War : (for dogs that already know leave it or drop it). This is a great way for dogs to get their energy out. You can even let him win from time to time as there is no scientific evidence that suggests letting a dog win leads to dominance or aggression issues. There is one 1 rule: If your dog's teeth touch your hands the game is over.

7. Do your chores. If you are like me, I am constantly picking up toys - dog, cat, kid toys. When will they learn to put their things away?!

Put your Toys Away: If your dog knows drop it. Give your dog a toy then with the toy basket close by say "drop it" and watch the toy drop into the basket. Good Dog! Drop the treat into the basket because we also want to associate that good things happen when you put your head in this basket. Practice this a few times. Then toss the toy a few feet from the toy basket. Let him play with the toy and see if he brings the toy back and drops it in the basket without the cue word. If this happens reward heavily. You eventually want to get to the point where your dog brings the toy back and drops it automatically.

Once your dog is getting the hang of this start tossing the toy around the room and then for an extra challenge add a second toy. When your dog starts doing this reliably you can add the word "clean up".

Name Your Toys: Place your dog's favorite toy on the floor without any other toys around. Then say "Get the frisbee" (or whichever favorite toy you are using) and praise heavily if your dog gets the toy. After a few times line up the favored toy with 2 other ordinary objects (for example a spoon, tv remote, etc). Then ask your dog to get the frisbee. Praise heavily! Now add a second toy and 1 ordinary object and see if they will still get the frisbee. Once you are confident your dog knows the name of his favorite toy you can repeat the process with the other toys.

Find Your Toys: Now you have all the parts to have your dog find their toys and put them away in their basket.

8. Try a new class: I HIGHLY recommend nosework. This is great for dogs of all ages and sizes and has endless challenge possibilities inside and outside. Also promotes confidence in dogs with anxiety.

-- Brooke Lewis DVM

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