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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!