No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn – Hal Borland
It’s February. We know what that means. It means we’re all struggling to get to spring. The fact that we can’t be outside constantly is getting to us and we have a vague recollection of what the sun looks like. It also means, that maybe our walks with the dog are cut shorter due to the freezing temperatures.
This can create some chaos in the house. Your dog isn’t used to being cooped up as much as they are. There may be some shoes chewed, commands not listened to and some more barking than normal. Your dog is feeling just like you are. Cooped up and without as much stimulation and exercise that they’re used to. Activity is a huge part of making sure your dog is leading a balanced life. So, let’s talk about some things you can do with your pup when the weather is below zero and walks aren’t as much of an option anymore.
Take a minute to search some fun dog commands on the internet. You can look on YouTube as well. Then, have fun! Teach your dog a new command! It doesn’t have to be hours out of your day, in fact, avoid that. Take 10 minutes a day to work on a new command. Work on that command for a week and see how far you’ve come! This creates some mental activity for your dog and creates some bonding time between the two of you. Porter and I are now working on the command Peek-a-boo. This is where if I say the command “Peek-a-boo” he comes in between my legs and looks up at me.
Run some Stairs
If your dog is healthy enough and you have stairs in your home feel free to use them to your advantage! Throw a ball up the stairs for your dog to go chase. Or have one person stay upstairs and one person stay downstairs and call your dog back and forth. This will help him burn some energy and get some activity in without freezing paws or snow burrs.
Working with your dog on scent detection is a great way to work his brain and get some activity in. You’re also working on your bonding with your dog as well. Have fun with this! This is great. Porter loves this game. Here’s directions on how to start the scent detection game with your pup.
Getting your dog on the treadmill allows him to get his walking activity in without dealing with the freezing cold temperatures outside. It’s a great way to supplement the walk in this weather. You can even have your dog wear his backpack while he’s on there!
If you’re taking your dog outside for a bathroom break and there are some big snow piles around, have him run up and down them a few times before coming inside. Running hills and snow piles is a good way to help wear them out. Any little bit helps.
Do some agility work in the house! Seriously! Teach your dog the over command by taking a broom stick or yard stick on the floor. Use a treat to entice your dog over the stick all while repeating the command “over”. You can put the treat close to his nose and tug lightly on his collar to encourage him to cross the object. Once all four paws cross, give your pup the treat and praise him like crazy. Now, go back the other way doing the same thing. The whole time you will be repeating the command “over”. Once your dog is comfortable with the command you can begin not to give them the treat every time but continue the praise.
Eventually you can raise the stick on soup cans or books, making it so that your dog has to jump over. When he gets really good you can get creative! Put the broom between your couch and the coffee table and have your dog jump over it, back and forth. Empty boxes? Use those too! Doing agility gives your dog some great activity as well as mental work. And you’re working together as a team!
Get creative with the activity aspect of your dog’s needs. It’s tough right now, we get that. It’s hard to give them as much walking activity as you did in the summer. But, in order to have a happy dog, they still need to burn some energy. Everyone has the winter blues. Including our 4 legged family members. So, give them some activity that is fun and lifts both your spirits and theirs. Hang in there, spring will be here eventually.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH