Keep Your Dog Busy In Winter
During the winter it is often too cold or snowy to walk your dog. But your dog still has the same energy level and needs proper exercise. If you are unable to exercise him with walks try some other creative ways of burning off that energy.
Make mealtime fun time. Instead of putting down a bowl of kibble that will be gone in just a few minutes, or even seconds, extend your dog’s mealtime. There are many great toys on the market you can put your dogs kibble into, which makes him or her work for their dinner. Some are hard rubber hollow toys that hold the kibble. By adding peanut butter or squeezy cheese along the rim it becomes even more fun for the dog to work the food out. The more food packed into the toy the harder the dog has to work to free it. Use the same amount of food as before to prevent your dog from gaining weight.
There are also treat balls that hold and dispense several cups of food. The dog rolls the ball around, the food falls out and the dog eats. Dogs have great fun with these toys, because they allow the dogs to hunt for their food. You can even make your own food dispensing toy by using a plastic water, soda or milk jugs. Take off the plastic rings and lid, put some kibble into the bottle and let him figure out how to get the food out. Some dogs are easily frustrated at first, but once they learn how to get the food out of the bottle they have fun doing so.
Teach your dog to “hunt” for his meals. While your dog is behind a baby gate, or in another room, place small amounts of his kibble around the room. Place some next to the table leg, in a corner, next to the chair at first making sure it’s in plain sight. Then bring the dog into the room and tell him to “find it” leading him around the room to the food. Each time he spies a pile of kibble tell him “find it.” Soon can let him enter the room giving the cue “find it” and off he will go in search of his dinner. When the dog improves at the game, find new or mix up the areas where you place the food. This makes it even more fun for your dog!
Keep your dog busy by teaching him new games and tricks. Name the dog’s various toys and teach him to retrieve each toy by name. Toss the ball just a few feet away and tell him to “get ball.” Reward him with some playtime using the toy he just retrieved. As he learns the name of one toy add a different toy with a different name. Soon he will be bringing each toy by name. While teaching him new games and tricks may not be physically stimulating, it is mentally stimulating and mental stimulation can burn energy too. Think how tired you feel after completing your tax return.
Winter months can often bring more canine behavior problems. Chewing, barking, jumping and other unwanted behaviors increase. Primarily this is because dogs failed to get as many (if any) walks as they would in warmer weather. No one spends time in the yard playing ball or playing chase games. Increasing their mental stimulation can help reduce or even eliminate many unwanted behaviors.
Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the trainers are all graduates of Purdue University’s DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.