Winter is upon us and with that, cooped up dogs with boundless energy! When the weather is too bitter for outdoor activities, there are lots of things you can still do to save your sanity and give your dog much-needed mental stimulation at the same time.
Too cold for long walks or games of frisbee? Now is the perfect time to begin indoor training for a dog sport, such as Rally, Agility, or Canine Freestyle. Take your dog to training classes to learn the basic skills necessary and practice right in your own living room. (You'd be surprised how many Agility moves can be practiced indoors with no equipment)!
Enroll in a Canine Good Citizen class. Even if your dog has impeccable manners at home, getting him to a new location, under the guidance of a good instructor, will ensure that those manners are intact around new people and in new places.
Of course K9 Nose Work is not to be left out! This is a perfect activity for cold, winter days that force you to stay inside. Your dog can learn to hunt for treats hidden in boxes and burn up lots of mental energy at the same time!
If you have stairs, give your dog exercise by throwing a ball up a flight of stairs for him to retrieve and bring back to you. Build up the enthusiasm by having him in a Sit-Stay until released to race up the stairs for the ball.
Practice round-robin-recalls. Give everyone in the family your dog's favorite treats or tug-toys. Have each of them call the dog, one at a time, and feed yummy treats or play tug when the dog comes.
Teach your dog a new trick, such as a target-touch with their nose or paw. Once your dog has the concept, you can teach him to turn a light switch on and off, or to ring a bell hung on the door when he wants to be let out.
Use your imagination to come up with games that will entertain your dog and stimulate his mind. Your dog, and your sanity, will thank you for it!