The winter can be tough, but keeping your dog occupied indoors doesn’t have to be. Here are five tips to keep him happy and healthy until spring arrives.
Being stuck indoors too much can make you a little depressed, and it can also affect your canine companion. According to a study by the veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), one in three dogs experiences a downturn in mood during the colder months. The solution can be as simple as providing a high quality diet and regular indoor exercise.
1. Stair work
If you have a house with closed stairs, play fetch by throwing a toy up the stairs and having your dog run up and down for a great workout. (Stick to a flat surface if your dog has joint problems.)
2. Rotation diet
Offering different food forms (kibble, canned, raw) and proteins (meat, fish, poultry) will keep your buddy interested in eating and improve his behavior – and that can help when he’s inside a lot. Be sure to notice the quantity of food you are feeding, since a dog is often less active during the colder months. By following a rotation diet, you pay more attention to what you are feeding him and decrease your chances of over-feeding.
3. Obedience routines
Bring out the training books and work with your dog to improve basic skills such as heel, turn, sit and stay. It will keep him mentally active, which is just as important as physical activity, and increases your interaction with him.
4. Hide and seek
Create a treasure hunt for your dog around the house by hiding healthy treats in different places. This is an interactive game to get him moving and encourage him to explore his surroundings.
5. Indoor pools
If you have access to an indoor pool or pet rehabilitation center, swimming is a great physical activity for dogs that’s easy on joints. Start with short sessions and build up the duration and intensity of the swims.
It won’t be long before the sun shines and it’s warm enough to spend more time outside, but until then, these fun indoor activities will lift your dog’s mood while keeping him fit.
Stacy Peardot-Goudy has been involved in agility since 1988 and has earned hundreds of titles. She owns and operates C Spot Win Agility School, which hosts training seminars and camps in the U.S. and internationally. She is also a member of Nature’s Variety Pet Nutrition Council.