With shorter walks and less time outside, dogs can get stir crazy during the winter — and boredom can lead to overeating, stress and destructive behavior.
But you can keep your dog’s brain busy with these fun, easy boredom-busting games:
Cup game (a.k.a. shell game): Place three upside-down cups in front of your dog. Let her see you put a treat under one of them, then let her tip the cup over to get to the snack. Repeat. Once she’s got the hang of it, put the treat under the cup in a way that’s hidden from your dog’s view, so she has to sniff it out.
Searching game: Hide treats or favorite (i.e. smelly) toys around the house, then encourage your dog to find them.
Teach a new trick: Teach your dog a fun new trick like “wave” or “take a bow.” If you’re feeling ambitious, teach him a multi-step trick like “take a nap” that you can show off at the dog park in the spring.
Rotate toys: Give your dog access to only a few of his toys each week. Then, at the end of the week, swap a few out for some of the toys you’ve had hidden away. This keeps the toys fresh in your dog’s eyes and makes you seem like the most generous mom ever.
Hide and seek: Position yourself and a pal at two different points in your home, preferably with something like a staircase between you. Then take turns calling your dog and rewarding him with a treat when he finds you. Each time your dog goes to one person, the other person changes location so your dog has to search for you again.
Of course, getting outside for daily walks and short trips to the dog park are vital boredom busters for your dog as well. Find out how to protect your dog from winter dog park dangers.
Tell us: How does your dog let you know when he’s bored?
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