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Keeping Your Dog Busy Indoors this Winter

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Keeping Your Dog Busy Indoors this Winter

As the weather cools down and the days get shorter, the idea of hibernating sounds more and more appealing to many. Chances are, your dog disagrees. You love your dog, but the idea of taking him on his usual mile and half long walk or trip to the probably deserted dog park in the wind and snow just sounds so grueling. While your energy levels may be dropping with the temperature, your dog still needs the exercise and stimulation she would normally get on a pleasant spring day. You've probably noticed a change in your dog's behavior when you've slacked on enforcing their regular routine. You know what they say about idle paws. Here's the good news: there are indoor activities for you and your canine companion to help stimulate their senses and tire them out without freezing your tail off.  Let's take a look at a few examples of perfect ways to entertain your dog indoors.

Our first activity is a fun little exercise called nose work. The great thing about this game is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. Nose work refers to the practice of teaching your dog how to find the source of a scent. A simple place to start is with your dog's favorite treats and a towel or blanket. The prerequisite to this method is the command stay. Tell them to stay as you hide a few treats under the towel or blanket. Next, tell your dog "find it," or use another simple command. When he has found the treat use your preferred  "praise phrase" and give them the treat. Once your pet has figured out this method, you can advance to cutting holes in shoe boxes and stashing the treats while your dog is in another room. You can take this practice even further by teaching them to track other scents and find the source in exchange for treats.

Another way to give your dog stimulation while staying indoors is to practice tricks, or just brush up on their general etiquette. This has huge advantages for both of you. Your dog gets entertainment, and you get a better trained, more well behaved dog. If your dog already knows the basic commands such as sit, stay, come and lay down, it may be a good time to start trying out flashier tricks with your furry friend. Maybe it's been a while since you've worked on new tricks. This can make this task seem a bit daunting. Don't worry. The idea that old dogs can't learn new tricks is just a myth. Teaching your dog to turn in a circle is an easy place for both of you to start. Hold a treat in front of your dog's nose at his standing height. Move it in a circle so that he follows it while you say your chosen command (spin, turn, or right/left if your teaching direction). Once they come around to the starting position, reward them with the treat. Slowly increase the distance between the treat and your dog's nose. You're working towards your dog performing the task just with the verbal command and/or hand signal.

There are many activities for you and your pet to get his energy out inside. A mental workout can be just as effective as a physical one, but some dogs will still need to run and play. It can be as simple as a good old fashion game of fetch or tug of war. You may also consider seeking out an indoor dog park in your area or setting up an inside play date with other dogs. Whether she's practicing scent work or just playing fetch, the most important factor is that your dog has your attention and interaction.

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