Activities For Small Dogs On Cold Days

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Introduction

When the seasons change and the days grow cold, you are stuck with the same old dilemma. How do keep your small dog entertained? Stuck inside, you know your dog is going to get bored if they have nothing to do. A dog without a purpose is going to get themselves into mischief. So what is the answer to this seasonal situation? The simple solution is to do your research and use your imagination to create activities for your dog that will keep them busy. You can create an indoor obstacle course just using handy boxes, steps or hoops. Or you can teach your dog to become your little helper by teaching the name of their toys or the children's. Then you can ask them to 'fetch the blue bear' and get them to pick it up and drop it in the toy container. This trick is a winning situation - you get a little helper to help you clean up and your dog gets a good mental and physical workout. If the weather isn't too bad, dress yourself appropriately (and your dog if necessary), grab the umbrella, and take a quick run around the block. Keep your dog on a long leash and get them to run up and down any steps that are suitable. Colder days are a wonderful opportunity to try different things, either inside or out. After all, a quick run around will soon have you and your furry friend feeling as warm as toast.

Doggy Playdate

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Cold Day
Free
Easy
60 min
Items needed
Selection of balls
Food treat balls
Activity description

Dogs are very social animals and many enjoy spending time with members of their own species. On a cold day, you can invite a dog buddy and owner over for a coffee (owners) and treats (the dogs ). No one plays with a dog better than another dog. They will often create their own games and will romp around the living room. If you have stairs, you can throw toys up to the top and the dogs will race to get there first. Socializing is an important skill for any dog, it helps them develop habits that are acceptable and helps them to communicate with other dogs. Create a hallway race track, just ensure you move any special furniture or decorations out of harm's way. Then dogs and owners can have a ball (pun intended) as the dogs race after those bouncing spheres. Another take on this activity is to 'dog sit' a dog who will be home alone while their owner is at work. It provides both dogs with stimulating activity on a cold, miserable day and you get to help out a friend.

Step
1
Make the playdate
It's quite probable that a friend and their dog are bored, just as you are, on this cold chilly day. Your invitation to come for coffee will appeal to both of them. Usually, dogs make their own fun, so leave them to romp and play as you supervise and enjoy a warming coffee and chat. When they get over their excitement, then you can start to introduce toys or games into the equation.
Step
2
Add the toys
Having prepared the hallway earlier, or even clearing part of the room, it's time to introduce a race to challenge the dogs. Toss a ball or two down the hallway and tell the dogs to fetch. Most dogs will play this game for ages, spurred on by the desire to beat their buddy to the ball. Reward good behavior and returning the ball to you on command. Treats make a dog's life so much more fun and it encourages good behavior.
Step
3
Slowing the pace down
Once they have played the game of fetch and they have worn off some energy, slow the pace down with a small treat ball for each dog. They will be content to chew and shake the toys to get the treats, and this will have a calming effect on them. This quieter time will allow their minds to unwind and allow them to be calmer. After all, they have burned some energy off! When your pup's buddy leaves, your small dog will be content to sleep and relive the whole event.
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Home Alone

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
10 - 15 min
Items needed
Chew Toys
Nylabones
Activity description
The important thing for a dog left alone on a cold day and confined to the home, is to give them something to occupy their time. Chewing is normal behavior for a dog; it helps to relieve anxiety, keeps their teeth and gums strong and clean, and they like to chew just for the fun of it. To prevent your dog from chewing on your furniture or cushions, leave them a selection of toys to entertain them. Owners often look for fancy games and toys to occupy their dog, but often it is the simple things that can make or break your dog's day. Having one or two things to chew on can help alleviate boredom, and will occupy your dog for a long period of time. It can be amazing how long a dog will chew for. Have the home warm for your dog, a nice fresh blanket on their bed, and perhaps consider playing soft music so the home doesn't seem so lifeless.
Step
1
Go shopping and be prepared
As the seasons change and the days grow colder, get prepared and go shopping for chew toys that you can stock up on for your dog. You never know when a real cold blast will set in and confine your dog to the inside of the home. So be prepared and stock up on goodies well ahead of time.
Step
2
Set the stage
Dogs are social animals, and being alone can get boring or bring on anxiety. Having a few plans in place to entertain your dog will help them through the lonely times. Before leaving for work, have an active game with your pal, even if it is tug of war or racing up and down the stairs. Try to burn up a bit of their energy before you say goodbye. Make sure the house is warm but not hot, and that they have water on hand, a fresh blanket on their bed, and then give them their gift: a new toy to play with or a nylabone to chew on.
Step
3
Time to chew
With a tasty new nylabone, your dog probably won't notice you slipping out the back door. Dogs can spend hours on a bone, they don't give up. They may wander away for ten minutes to check out the house, but then they will be back. Between the chew toy, their comfy bed, and a new squeaky toy, they will pass the day in a pleasant happy way. Maybe when you get home the weather will have eased so you and your buddy can do a lap or two around the block. The key to a happy dog is to keep them busy and provide exercise.
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Game of Chase

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Cold Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Favorite toy
Length of sturdy rope
A length of bamboo or a strong stick
Activity description

The game of chase is a perennial favorite with dogs, it exploits their natural drive to chase prey. When you are stuck indoors on a freezing cold blustery day, you can teach your dog to play chase. It simply involves tying a favorite toy or a squeaky toy in a sock onto the rope and then tying the rope onto the bamboo pole. Then as you flick it around your dog become excited, trying to catch the article. Small dogs are ideal for this game as you don't need a lot of space, but do clear an area just in case the game gets a bit 'ruff'. Your dog will benefit from the exercise they get, which is often quite intense. It will certainly burn off some of that energy as your dog happily chases their prey!

Step
1
Clear a path
The first thing to do is to clear an area where it is safe to play this game. Move any valuable ornaments out of harms way. Then set up your chase pole by tying one end of the rope to the pole, and then fasten your dog's favorite toy or a ball in a sock onto the other end of the rope.
Step
2
Drag and chase.
Get your dog's attention, then begin the game by using the stick to drag the toy along the ground, and let your dog chase it. They will be fast, so you will have to get good at dragging it, flicking the toy out of their way, and twirling the toy in the air. Make sure to let them get it occasionally so that they don't lose interest. When they catch the toy, let them stop and rest and enjoy their win. A small treat will loosen their grasp on the toy so you can begin again.
Step
3
The circle drag
Rather than going in a long line, add variety by twirling the toy in a big circle for your dog to chase. They can get a good workout in a relatively small space this way. Drag it over the couch, under the kitchen table, get them to crawl along though the chair legs. Then again let them rest and enjoy their catch!
Step
4
Change the prey
If your dog starts to get bored with the existing toy, change it for a brand new squeaky toy. Your dog will be excited by the new noise and romp and run, trying to catch this new prey. When they catch the prey, the game gets noisy as each time they chew, it squeaks. Play for as long as you have time and your dog is still interested. Then release the toy and let them do what they want with it. Lavish praise upon them for their efforts as dogs thrive on affection and acknowledgement.
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More Fun Ideas...

Snow Play

While small dogs have a problem getting around on the snow due to their short legs, it will provide a great outlet for that stored energy. For smooth or short haired dogs you may want to put them into a doggy coat to keep them warm. Even if you just take them out for a walk in the snow, bounding through the dense white stuff will tire your dog out. Don't over do the time spent in the snow, 30 to 40 minutes is ample. They will tone their leg muscles as they try to walk in the dense snow. Make it fun with a  ball to retrieve and some snacks as a reward. Then when they have had enough, dry them off and go inside and reward them with a chewy treat and a warm drink of water. The snow provides a great medium for exercising all the muscles in the body, both for you and your pal!

Practice targeting with your dog

A cold miserable day provides an opportunity to teach your dog how to 'target'. What you do is teach your dog to focus on a specific target, such as to touch their nose to the back of your hand on command. Be patient as your dog learns to do the task you ask. Keep repeating and treating, this action will keep them keen and interested. Once your dog has learned this trick, you can use it when you want to stop your dog from doing what they are doing and to focus. It is an ideal way to distract your dog's attention when they get excited or if they start barking. By using the target command it will direct their focus away from what you don't want, to something that you do want them to do. Plus, it is fun for your dog to learn, and they won't say no to a few treats or so!

The Treadmill Walk

If you have a treadmill exercise machine, then you have a wonderful opportunity to teach your dog how to walk on it. Be patient as your pup gets used to the moving platform. Let your dog get familiar with the machine and use a slow speed to start with. Stand close by and reward them with a treat for staying on the machine. Once they get the hang of it, you can speed it up a little but never go too fast or your dog may hurt themselves if they panic to get off. Start with just a few minutes, then extend the training so that they get a good workout for their size. This activity will be a new thing and they will soon be running to stand on the machine, and hounding you to turn it on.

Conclusion

Dogs don't care about the cold.  Look at those eyes looking soulfully up at you! They are begging for some adventure in their lives. So, make it happen. Cold or winter weather doesn't mean the fun days have to stop. Your small dog is a smart cookie; they love to learn. They enjoy a mental challenge just as much as physical fun; your dog will love the opportunity to play, run or just solve a puzzle – it’s all fun stuff to them. You can make their meal time a challenge by loading a special toy dispenser, like a treat ball, with tidbits. This game can take ages, whereas if you just serve up your dog's meal they will scoff it down in two seconds flat. Cold days force you to get creative; it takes some doing to get that little energetic furball to use up their energy. Now that is a challenge but remember, anything is pawssible!