7 Ideas to combat your dog’s winter blues

by Nancy E. Hassel, ThisFurryLife.com

Many of us are in the midst of winter doldrums that can also affect our dogs.  Bored dogs can become destructive or just do things they would not normally do out of frustration of no longer having that busier spring, summer and fall activity level.  To combat dog boredom is actually easier than you would think, even if your stuck home during a blizzard or it’s just too cold to take Buster out to play.  Here are some simple suggestions to keep your dog’s mind and body active and deter any unwanted behaviors.

  • Sign up for a weekly obedience/agility/scent work/conformation or rally class. You will be surprised how much your dog and you will look forward to it.


  • Play ‘Find it’ games – this one is so simple and dogs just love it.  Find it can be done a few different ways, but the easiest is to take a few treats, break them into smaller treats (or use a handful of kibble) and have your dog sit and stay.  Put a couple treats about 6-feet in front of him, but in plain site and say, “Buddy, find it,” and point to the treats. When he trots over to eat them, tell him, “Good job, good find it!” Then continue to do this making the treats further away, and not so obvious. Dogs get the hang of this pretty quickly, and love this game too. You can make it harder by having the dog sit and stay in another room, and hide the treats throughout the house.


  • Hide-and-go-seek.  I am not kidding!  No matter how big or small your house or apartment is, this fun game involves training, (sit/stay – while you, yes you go hide from your dog), brain activity as your dog tries to find you, and praise and excitement when he does.  Dogs absolutely love this game.  Hide in different spots, call out to your dog, reward them when the find you. Repeat.  A lot of energy will be used by your dog and he will be worn out after a few times.


  • Bring your dog to your local pet store or pet friendly business.  Why?  One to get your dog out into public, out of the house, different scenery and you can work on simple training commands, leash work and socialize your dog at the same time.


  • You may need to relax and unwind after a long day of work, but your dog has been waiting for you all day.  You can simply do some training exercises during commercial breaks (if you’re a TV person) or just make time to have play sessions with your pup before you settle down to relax.


  • There are many toys are the market that you can hide treats in, that your dog will have to figure out how to get them out.  Mental and physical stimulation will help keep him active.  I do suggest being sure to be home when you give this sort of toy to your dog – always monitoring your dog with any toy is best.


  • Go for a hike in the snow.  If your dog is one that loves the snow, this is a great way to get great exercise for you and your dog.  Be sure to properly dress your dog (winter coat, dog boots if in city streets) as short haired dogs can get cold fast.

Dogs can get cabin fever just like we do and may need additional interaction and attention during the winter months.  Often times bad behaviors arise in dogs when they are not getting enough attention, exercise, stimulation – and we tend to put all the blame on the dog – when more than likely it is our own fault!  We would love to know if you have additional fun ideas to keep your pup happy this time of year, comment below.


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