Being cooped up inside due to the cold is no fun for humans, so imagine how difficult it is for dogs! Luckily, you can combat canine cabin fever with some simple indoor games. These activities will help keep your pup alert and mentally active all season long, and strengthen your special bond to boot.
Sniff to Success
A dog’s sense of smell is one of his most powerful attributes. Play into your pup’s scenting skills by creating a treat-finding game. Stack boxes, cushions, and other pet-safe objects to make an obstacle course. Then, hide the goodies in a hard-to-locate spot, and watch Sparky sniff away. He’ll love the challenge—not to mention the tasty reward!
Build Snout-Eye Coordination
Remember those ring-stacking toys you had as a kid? They provide an equally fun activity for dogs! First, find a set of rings made of naturally dyed wood, in the appropriate size for your particular pup. Then, begin teaching the dog how to stack the rings. Reward him whenever he picks up a ring, and as he moves it closer to the post. Save the highest praise (and favorite treats) for when he successfully places the ring on the post, and he’ll have the process down in no time. This particular game requires some extra time and patience to learn, but the mental benefits it provides for your pooch make it well worth the effort.
Slow Things Down
The next time you’re playing fetch with Fido, try changing up the pace. Move the toy deliberately, with slower, more focused movements. This challenges the dog to anticipate your gestures in a different way, helping to tire him mentally. It’s the perfect way to keep his brain sharp during the lazy winter months.
Pick a Paw
This is a simple, no-frills activity that’s perfect for indoor entertainment. Hide a treat in one of your hands. Put both of your hands in front of you, and wait until the dog “chooses” a hand with her nose or a paw. Continue until she successfully picks the hand with the treat.
Make Mealtimes Playtime
Your dog’s mental training can continue even when you’re not around. Consider investing in an interactive feeder. These come in a variety of formats, from simple spiral dishes to more complex puzzle boxes, but all of them encourage the dog to paw, lick, and problem-solve to reach the food. You’ll come home to a pooch who is both full and mentally stimulated.