It’s easy to think of canine enrichment for your dog when it’s nice outside, but what do you do when the temperature is close to or below zero? Figuring out ways to keep your dog busy, active, and enriched is challenging once the weather turns inclement. It’s especially challenging for those of us with young dogs or puppies. However these ideas may work equally well for inclement weather enrichment for a senior dog who can’t handle the heat of summer.
Boxes and Tubes
Does your dog like to chew? Providing cardboard boxes or tubes, like paper towel or toilet paper tubes, can provide a different outlet for chewing. Adding some kibble inside the box or tube and closing it up can make it a bit more challenging. This is one of Sunny’s favorite activities. Remember not to leave your dog unattended and watch to make sure she doesn’t eat the cardboard.
Let’s Play Ball
Indoor fetch is a great way to burn some energy. If you are lucky enough to have a basement or large room, stand on one end and toss the ball to the other end. This gives your dog an opportunity to run. If you don’t have a large space, you can still toss the ball around and give your dog a chance to run around. This was Karlie’s favorite thing to do and we spent hours tossing balls inside and out.
You can create an agility course from common things you may have around the house. We used pillows, a ramp, cones, and dowels. I made a course in our bedroom that had Karlie walking over pillows, onto her bed, and up a ramp onto our bed. She thought it was great fun and would do the course several times. We also created a cavaletti course with cones and dowels. For more information about cavaletti check out Keep Moving.
Learn a new Trick
Sunny loves to learn new things since it’s another opportunity for a snack. She is HIGHLY food motivated so learning new tricks is fairly easy. There are so many things to teach your dog in addition to sit and stay. Sunny has learned spin, rollover, shake, high five, and many more. Google dog tricks and you will find an abundance of ideas and ways to teach them. Another great way to teach a trick is to capture something your dog already does, give treats, and name it. Reward anything you want repeated. The higher value the treats, the more likely your dog will repeat it. A high value treat is anything that your dog loves, while a low value treat is their normal kibble.
One of Sunny’s favorite games is “find it” and it’s easy to teach. We started by having her stay on her mat and tossing a treat a short distance from her and saying “find it”. Once she ate the treat, I clicked and gave her another treat. I kept increasing the distance until I was able to leave the room and hide the treat, come back, and tell her to find it. She loves to race through the house looking for the treat. Afterwards she races back to her mat and lays down. This not only burns energy from moving around, but also using her nose and brain to find the treat.
This is a short list of some things that we do for inclement weather enrichment. Hopefully it has you thinking about how to keep your dog busy and enriched when it’s too cold (or hot) to go for walks or spend much time outside. I would love to hear what you do to keep your pup entertained when it’s not nice enough to play outside.