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7 Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy In The Winter Time

7 Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy In The Winter Time

7 Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy in Winter Time

During the winter months, weather can be a factor in getting your dog outside. It can be challenging to find the time to fit in enough activity and exercise with your dog when it's too cold, there's piles of snow, ice or it's pouring down rain.

You can listen to the list of fun indoor games & activities to play indoors with your dog on the video below (and it's in list form below). And the best part is most of them don’t require any special toys or equipment, just you, your dog and a bit of creative fun.

7 Ways To Keep Your Dog Busy In The Winter Time

Shell Game

Dogs naturally driven by smell. The shell game is a fun one for dogs because they get to use their favorite sense and they get the bonus of a treat too.

How to Play

  • Use a “Top Shelf” treat to start - something they don’t get often
  • Use 3 containers you can hide the treat under. ie cups, tupperware, dog bowls.
  • Hide the treat without your dog seeing
  • Call your dog and encourage to “find it”to mark the beginning of the game
  • When the dog finds it praise wildly, give the treat or toy
  • You can expand the game to hide and seek to bigger space

Tug of War

Tug is a great way to mentally & physically challenge your dog. Old school trainers discourage this and discount it to teaching aggressive behavior. 

Done right this game not only encourages higher confidence but also teaches your dog to drop things when you tell him to!

Tug of war is interactive play.

  • Minute for minute it’s one of the most intense forms of exercise for your dog. They’re getting a mental and physical workout.
  • Strengthens your bond with your dog.
  • Easy way to reinforce obedience basics and helps to teach your dog to listen while excited.
  • Redirects destructive chewing.
  • Builds a dogs confidence (especially if you let him win sometimes)
  • Creates a useful distraction when working on learning other behaviors.

Rules Of Playing Tug With Your Dog

Use a tug toy that is long enough to keep your dogs teeth away from your hands. The toy should also be flexible and durable.

Keep the toy put away when you’re not using it. It’s a game that you initiate when you want to play.

Teach your dog that he can only grab the toy when you give permission. Hold the toy up or off to the side; only begin the game one he sits. After he sits and waits you can encourage him to “take it.” If your dog hasn’t played tug before he might be reluctant. Let him grab onto it and gently move the tug from side to side encouraging him to pull.

Don’t pull upwards; only tug from side to side. Pulling up on the tug can injure your dogs spine or neck.

As your dog gets more excited he might begin to growl; this is normal behavior. If you feel that your dog is getting too excited or intense take a break.

If your dogs teeth come in contact with you the game should stop immediately. Say “ouch” or let out a yelp and tell the dog to release the toy. Once your dog is calmly sitting down and waiting to begin again you can tell them to “take it” and start tugging again. If they let their teeth touch your hand again it’s OK to stop the game for the day. They’ll eventually learn to be extra careful when grabbing the tug.

Do not let children play tug with your dog unless you’re supervising to watch out for signs of over excitement.

You should let your dog win intermittently!

Jolly Ball

A larger ball gets your dog engaged with chasing and playing. The Jolly Ball is too big to get the mouth around so it becomes intriguing for you dog to chase and play with it.

Many times they will start this game on their own.  It encourages exercise.

It’s a magical allure for many dogs and can make for a very funny viral video.

Stairway Dash

  • The requirement for this game is a stairway
  • Some is better than none! 2 steps can work. Use landings, house entries or entire sets of stairs.
  • Have your dog sit-wait or stay
  • Toss the ball to the top of the stairs
  • Send you dog to get it and bring it back to you.
  • Builds muscles and joint strength in front and back legs
  • Can build up the excitement by using voice READY…. GO!!
  • Encourages your dog to dash up the stairs.
  • Let them come back down at their own pace.
  • Overlay training by telling your dog to “come” as they come back to you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This game should only be played with a dog that is over 1 year old. Joints and bone are not completely developed in a younger dog and should not take impact like this.

After full development of bones and ligaments it’s a great way to build muscle and fitness.

Put Your Toys Away

  • Have a basket or container you keep dog toys in.
  • Scatter toys around and get your dog to pick one up.
  • May need encourage by interactive play.
  • Show your dog the basket and overlay “drop it’ or “out” if they know that then add “put your toy away” at the moment the drop happens. You’ll eventually fade the “drop it” or “out”.
  • Reward! Food or praise. You’ll eventually fade this step.
  • Up the game by adding more toys around and once your dog starts really getting it by hiding them or spreading them to other rooms of the house.

Teach Your Dog The Names of Their Toys

  • You’ve seen the Border Collie that knows more than 1000 words?
  • Your dog can learn many more words than the current vocabulary!
  • Start by playing with one specific toy and name it.
  • Put it down and tell to “get fill in the name of toy”.
  • Praise, praise, praise using the name of toy.
  • Once your dog learns one toy, have your dog pick it out from one or two other toys.
  • Eventually you can go on to a 2nd, 3rd 4th and on and on names of toys using this method.

Teach Your Dog the “Go To” Command

Step #1: Give the command “go to your bed.”

Show your dog to the bed from a short distance.

Praise/reward when you dog gets on the bed.

Hold for a few seconds w/ you near the bed.

Give release word or phrase “free” “take a break”

Step #2: Begin increasing the distance.

Increase the difficulty very gradually so the dog is successful.

Add only a foot at a time of distance to “go to your bed”

If your dog gets off without the release word or phrase “free” “take a break” put your dog right back on the bed even if you have to take her and say “go to your bed” again once your dog is on the bed.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Lots of treats!

Step #3: Increase the time.

You’ll most likely be practicing this step along with step two. Basically you want to teach your dog that “go to your bed” means “go to your bed and stay there until I release you.”

If your dog doesn’t listen and leaves her bed before you release her, just calmly say “ahuh” and put her back on her bed. Wait a second or two, then release her. If she’s getting up, then it may be time to take a break. Get a her to stay for a few seconds, then release her on a "win" and start again later.

Step #4: Increase the distance between you and your dog.

Now you can begin to walk away from the bed. At first, you might take a single step back. Then return to your dog and release her. Next, you would take two or three steps. Then four. Then maybe you can sit on the couch for 30 seconds. Then a minute. Every dog will be different.

Puppies will obviously have a harder time sitting still. Dogs that don’t have strong obedience skills will also struggle. Dogs that have a rock-solid down stay command mastered will have no trouble with this.

Go at your own pace. Be positive. Use lots of praise and treats. Make sure your dog views her bed as a fun place to hang out.

Extra tips for teaching your dog to go to her bed:

  • Give your dog a special treat when she’s lying on her bed such as a bone or a puzzle toy
  • Give your dog the “go to your bed” command before you feed her
  • Give the “go to your bed” command before heading out for a walk
  •  Keep your dog on a leash during training if it helps

Did this post get you thinking of things to do with your dog? Want more?

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