Winter in Canada can often bring bone-chilling cold temperatures not suited for humans or our canine best friends for a prolonged period of time. On days like this, it can be nice to curl up in front of the TV and binge-watch your favourite shows...but what indoor activities could you do with your dog when heading out for their usual walk is not an option? Here are a variety of solutions divided into low, medium and high impact activities for your dog!
Spaw Day! I realize that not every dog requires a lot of grooming. However, your dog will love a spaw day with an ear cleaning, nail trim and brushing that is divided into short intervals throughout the day! Grooming in itself can be a tiring activity. Follow this up with a doggy massage. Your dog will love the extra hands-on attention!
Rotate your dog’s toys Much like the toddler that prefers to play with the box the toy came in, rotating dog toys are a great way to prevent your dog from getting bored with their toys. If your dog has one particular toy that is their absolute favourite, keep that one in rotation at all times!
Teach your dog a new trick or refresh what your dog already knows. Over time we become lax with our dog’s tricks and training. However, being cooped up during inclement weather days makes for an excellent opportunity to refresh old skills and build new tricks. Keep training to short intervals (15 to 20 minutes max) and remember positive praise for a job well done! Alternatively, this is a fantastic opportunity for my wedding clients to get their dog(s) comfortable with their wedding day attire or practice certain poses for wedding day photography!
Snuffle mat A snuffle mat is (often) a fleece mat with various holes, pockets and soft straps you hide your dog’s kibble or treats in. When placed on the ground, your dog will use its nose to find the treats you set in the mat. Snuffle mats are designed to help your dog develop their search and find skills!
Dog puzzles! Dog puzzles are a great solution to mentally and physically stimulate your dog and prevent boredom. Two brands I have enjoyed over my years as a dog owner: Outward Hound and Nina Ottosson.
Treat Ball: A Morgan pick! As the name suggests, a treat ball is a ball filled with either treats or your dog’s kibble. When your dog noses the treat ball around your house, treats will fall out for your dog to eat. Sounds simple enough, but this is an ideal solution for dogs that are fast eaters and for dogs on a diet.
Scavenger hunt with treats, one of my favourite activities to do with any client dog! Hide treats around your living room or part of your house. Then tell your dog to “find it.”
You might have to assist on the first few finds, but once your dog realizes treats are hidden, they should be hot on the trail, leaving you to sit back and enjoy watching them on their scavenger hunt!
Hint: Make sure you use super smelly treats!
Set up an obstacle course for your dog. Put down pillows and other uneven or low surfaces, arrange chairs in various patterns, or place poles (improvise with broom handles) horizontally in areas that your dog might have to step over or crawl under. An obstacle course promotes good mobility and mental stimulation, which I recommend for senior dogs who experience muscle atrophy as they age. Please don’t turn it into a race, completing the course is the goal. Up the fun and strategically hide treats around the obstacle course!
During Morgan’s puppyhood, this activity was essential to his rehab after both of his hip surgeries! We would set up little obstacle courses around the house and yard; he went from walking with assistance to navigating spaces with ease and confidence!
Please be mindful of slippery floors with this idea.
Winter blues don’t have to hit your house hard this winter! Keep yourself and your dog active with these activities to keep mentally sharp and fit, all while staying safe at home! What are some of your favourite winter activities? Let me know in the comments below!