Beat your pup’s cabin fever

dogs-91536_1280 It’s -8º, the sidewalks are covered in ice, and it’s also sleeting. You just don’t want to go out. As a result, your pup is a little terror–running circles around your house and chewing things up because she needs some exercise. What should you do? Try some of these fun games! The mental exercise will help wear her out, keeping you both sane and toasty warm.

Play “Hide and Seek”—Rope a family member or a friend into playing with you. You and your friend should each have a stash of delicious treats or a favorite toy in your pocket. Then, go somewhere in the house and hide. Don’t make it too tricky at first. Call your dog to you. Give her a big reward when she finds you —either a tasty treat or a chance to play with her toy.

In the meantime, your friend should hide somewhere else in the house and repeat! Your friend can’t make it to your house in this weather? Work on your pup’s sit-stay while you hide. Then call her to you!

Teach your dog a new trick—Teach your dog to roll over, shake hands, hide her eyes, or touch a target with her nose or paw. The mental work of learning something new prevents boredom.

Feed your dog her meals in a toy—Mix up some dog food with a little bit of yogurt, stuff it into the center of a Kong, put it in your freezer overnight, and then let your dog enjoy her meal, frozen-yogurt-style! You can stuff multiple Kongs and feed your dog her whole meal this way. The chewing will help tucker her out. Buster Cubes are another great option. You fill the ball with kibble, and your dog has to roll it around with her nose to get the food to come out.

Play tug-of-war with your dog—This game is a great way to burn energy, build a strong bond, and teach obedience like “Take it” and “Drop it”. Watch Emily Larlham of Kikopup teach her dog to play tug. Remember to set rules for the game. Teeth on skin = Game over!

Teach your dog to “Find it!”—Find three large cups and place them upside down on the floor. Put them about 3 feet apart at first and then gradually extend the distance between them as the dog gets better at the game. Put your dog in a down-stay or a sit-stay. Hide a very tasty treat under one of the cups—like a piece of chicken or cheese. Allow your dog to get up and find the cup with the treat. When she finds it, she gets the treat! Once your dog gets the game you can put this skill on cue by telling her to “Find it!”

Your dog is a bundle of energy, and—sleeting or not–that energy tank needs to be drained each day. These games provide stimulation for your dog, through safe chewing, the mental work of learning, or exercising with tug. We hope these games help keep you and your dog sane and having fun together this winter!