Baby it’s cold outside! (and what to do with your dog when you can’t get out)

Winter has finally descended on our Dubuque dog training activities. After months of unseasonably warm weather we are now in the traditional “cold months”.

Just in case you are wondering what I might mean by “cold”…it is 3 degrees Fahrenheit today. (but with wind chill “feels” like -9)

Taking the dog for a walk is certainly still possible, but it is for those who are less faint of heart than I.  (actually I am just a wimp about the cold) So this post is for my kindred spirits who spend January and February dreaming of palm trees and balmy temps while they slack on their duties of taking the dog for a walk. 🙂

The problem with slacking on the walk responsibilities is that the dog gets B-O-R-E-D and a bored dog tends to make their own fun!

So here are 3 ideas for taking that pent up energy and giving it an appropriate outlet.

1. Toys: Toys give the dog something to do. The usual course of action is to chew on them (or shred them, if you pick the wrong type) When you buy toys purchase things that are designed to be chewed on. Things that are made of hard nylon or hard rubber tend to be the most durable and they clean up nicely in the dishwasher. To prevent your dog from getting bored with the toys, pick things of unusual shapes with varying ridges and bumps on them. And then rotate the toys so that 3-5  are available in the doggy toy box while the rest are hidden in a closet or drawer. Switch the array of toys every couple days and your dog is more easily convinced they are “new” treasures to be enjoyed rather than the same old stuff.

and speaking of stuff…buy the cool toys that let you stuff food inside. The double bonus of chewing on a toy until it releases some yummy morsel will keep most any dog busy for an hour or so. Get creative and go beyond just the dried dog biscuit, learn how to stuff!


2. Move it: If you aren’t going to head out for a walk, there are ways to get the physical activity inside, it just takes a little more creativity. Practicing your dogs skill at heeling inside the house can really sharpen things up. You can maneuver all sorts of tight turns around the furniture or try the challenge of going up and down the stairs while maintaining the heel position.

Another option is to teach your dog to walk on a treadmill. It is a little scary the first time or two for a dog just learning, but most catch on very quickly and once they get it….they love it!  A friend of mine helped develop training protocols for one of the dog treadmill manufacturers. Here are some instructional videos for dog treadmill ideas.

3. Make em’ think: Ever had a long day at the office? No physical activity but your exhausted at the end of the day? Yep, that is what we call being mentally drained. Your dog can have it too and it is a good thing because a tired dog is easier to live with, right?!

It is very simple to give your dog something to think about by adding in obedience commands to your normal routine. Have your dog DO something frequently. Have him sit when he comes up and nudges you to be petted, or have her do a few doggy push ups (sit/down/sit/down/sit) when she follows you into the bathroom 😉 OR  have him go back and forth between his place (bed/rug/crate) and you a few times during each television commercial break. (like those sprints we had to do in gym class, remember?)

Thinking burns energy. When is the last time you taught your dog a new trick? How about each time you wait for the microwave to pop your bag of corn you spend those 2:15 minutes teaching the dog something new to do? It is easy and if you need ideas check out this fun book of tricks.

……now if that doesn’t help motivate you…..then come join us for our upcoming Tricks Class or sign your dog up for Doggie Day School. They will come home tired and then you can just snuggle together on the couch. 🙂