With the Polar Vortex crippling most of the United States, it is sometimes hard for people to find ways to keep their dogs from getting bored. Dangerously cold weather keeps most pets and their people indoors and lack of physical exercise and mental stimulation can causes all kinds of destructive behavioral issues including excessive chewing, barking and hyperactivity.
The good news is that you can still find ways to entertain dogs inside the home with toys, games, puzzles and DogTV.
Most domestic dogs live in home environments where there is little chance for them to make full use of their remarkable senses, but enrichment activities and experiences like DogTV can give them the outlet they need. DogTV stimulates their visual and auditory senses, providing dogs with hours of canine appropriate entertainment that prevents boredom, loneliness and behavioral anxieties such as separation distress. It can be a fantastic training tool and a great way to keep your dog entertained on cold winter days, especially when you have to be away from home.
You can also keep your dog entertained by playing games inside your home such as hide and seek, fetch or tug-of-war. Hide treats around the home and send your dog on a treasure hunt or get members of your family to hide and test his search and rescue skills. Vary your dog’s toys by rotating them each day so they remain unique and exciting and get toys that stimulate your dog’s vision and sense of smell such as treat balls and pet puzzles.
Put away your dog’s feeding bowl and use meal time to challenge her problem solving or hunting skills. Fill a rubber toy with her food if you feed wet and dry food, or a treat ball if you just feed dry kibble and let your dog work out how to get the food out of the toy. This turns on your dog’s seeker system and allows her to be positively reinforced while eating. It will take her a lot longer to eat her food in this way and allows her to use up valuable mental and physical energy.
Dog Sports and Classes
There are many indoor classes and dog centric activities that you can do to keep your dog active. Find a training or agility class in your area and get together with other people and their dogs. Cater to your dog’s energy requirements and allow his breed or mix of breeds to dictate what he needs. Is he more predisposed to tracking, hunting, luring or herding? There are many organizations all over the country that allow you and your dog to practice different canine sports and activities in controlled circumstances which encourage team work and bonding. Agility, flyball, treiball and K9 Nosework are all sports that can be done indoors and provide a great outlet.
Dogs are social animals and isolation from humans or animals for long periods can have devastating behavioral consequences such as severe distress on separation or aggression. Organizing private play dates for your dog at home or taking her to socialize with other dogs in indoor play areas will help her develop important canine social skills and become more confident with positive experiences. Training classes are a good way to help you communicate with your dog and force free training is the most effective training philosophy to encourage your dog to learn and be successful. To find a Victoria Stilwell licensed trainer in your area go to: www.positively.com/trainers.