Winter can be hard when you have a dog that doesn’t enjoy the cold weather. Coats, boots and/or paw shield can help with our short haired, small or senior pups. But most dogs just don’t get enough exercise in the cold winter months. That’s when we turn to mental stimulation. For us, we have books, computers, tv, games etc. But what about our dogs?
Stuff a treat dispensing toy with foods like canned plain pumpkin, plain yogurt or canned dog food. Once your dog knows how the toy works, pop it in the freezer for an added challenge.
Note: Freezing before your dog understands the toy could lead to frustration and he may not be interested in the toy.
Use food puzzles, lick mats or snuffle mats.
Give your dog a bone or chew. Yes, chewing is mentally stimulating too! And we can clean those teeth at the same time!
Work on training a new command, dogs love to learn and please their humans. Use lots of treats for reward or even use your dogs daily food to keep calorie intake low.
Play hide and seek. This is a great way to teach the stay and come commands. And let your dog use their nose! Or play “Find It” Scatter some kibble throughout the house and let your dog seek it out. This is a great way to work on the leave it command as you scatter the food.
If it’s not too cold, take your dog on sniffari walks, where he can sniff to his hearts content. These types of walks can be more exhausting than a longer walk at a quicker pace.
Take your dog to a local pet friendly store, this is also a great time to work on training in a new and distracting place!
Lack of exercise and lack of mental stimulation means your dog will find a way to entertain himself. Often times in a destructive manner.
While a lot of these ideas use food, be sure to watch your dogs figure. You can use part of your dogs meal for treats or in food puzzles. Or replace 10% of your dogs daily food intake with the extra treats.