Beat the Winter Blues

Updated: Dec 14, 2018

This winter has brought us some exceptionally cold temperatures and many of our dogs (and let's face it - us too) do not want to spend much time outside. It can be very uncomfortable for some of our dogs and with the bitter temps, can be dangerous to spend any length of time out in the cold.

As such, we have some very bored dogs with a lot of pent up energy!

There are, however, some fun things you can do with your dog inside that will not only help with mental stimulation but will also build confidence and enhance the bond you have with your dog!

One of the really fun things to do with your dog is teach them a few new tricks. Trick training is not only fun, but can be great brain work. You can have fun teaching your dog to shake, spin in each direction, back up, or head down. Remember, certain tricks should be avoided with some dogs and puppies due to undue stress on the spine such as sit pretty and tight circles.

Here is how you can teach the head down trick:

With your dog in a down, put your hand with some food next to their nose and slowly lure their head down so their chin - or even a part of it, is touching the floor.

As soon as your dog's chin touches the floor, mark with either a "yes!" or a clicker and reward. Every couple of days, lure more of chin to the floor and expect your dog to keep their head down a second or two longer building up to 5 seconds before rewarding. Don’t go so fast that your dog keeps picking its head up. Once your dog is holding its head down for 3-5 seconds, add in the cue word just before you lure your dog's chin to the floor. Pretty soon you won't have to lure all the way and then not at all!

More Fun With Nose Work

Another fun game you can do with your dog is K9 Nose Work®. All you need are 4-5 clean boxes, 1-2 boxes you will put your dog's favorite treat in (source boxes) and a hungry dog. Using an area where your dog has room to move around, put the clean boxes down and a few pieces of yummy food in each of the 2 source boxes.

Place 1 of the source boxes down almost in front of your dog so she can dive right in to get her reward. As your dog is eating out of the 1st box, quickly put the 2nd box down very close to the 1st box and take the 1st box away from your dog. As your dog gets to the 2nd box, refill the 1st box with treats/food and put it down near where your dog is eating the food from the 2nd box.

Keep repeating this for about 2-3 min then give your dog about a 10 min break and start again. We want the dogs leaving the play area wanting more so don't play so long your dog gets tired. Building desire to play and confidence is an important part of the game.

Other fun activities you can do with your dog include obedience training (work on duration sit and down as well as walking around your dog while they are in a sit or down), K9 Fitness (check out my other articles!), puzzle games (how does that food come out of the toy that wobbles?) and impulse control games (Door Manners, Wait for Food Bowl, Leave It). Be sure to check out the next issue for more K9 fun!

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