Keeping Your Dogs Entertained During Winter

It’s that time of year again, winter.

With the winter months comes snow, ice and cold. That can be challenging for any dog owner, especially if you have smaller breeds or any short coat breed dog that does not do well in the cold.

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Freckles is not a fan of winter.

As soon as the temperature drops, all my dogs wear jackets (we specifically really like Hurrta) and when the snow flies, they all wear booties to protect their paws.

My dogs are good up until -30C hits and then the only one who I will even take out for a short walk (meaning up the street and back) is Dolly. It also doesn’t help that I’m someone who’s had hypothermia twice and has low iron, so the cold weather and I do not get along.

So, how do I keep my dogs active when the temperature drastically drops? Well, there’s a few things I do.

Doggy Daycare

I’ve been taking my dogs to daycare since 2008. I remember telling people at the time that I had to drop Bandit off and pick him up from daycare and people laughed. They thought the concept of taking your dog to daycare to play and burn off energy was absolutely ridiculous. Funny thing is that those people all now take their dogs to daycare. I was just ahead of the trend.

I truly believe that whoever came up with the idea of doggy daycare was an absolute genius. While it’s not the cheapest of options, if you have a dog that needs to burn off energy and does not do well in the cold weather, daycare is the best thing. I have been fortunate to be able to take my dogs to the same daycare for the past 10 years and have gotten to know the staff quite well and they are also a member of the Alberta Force Free Alliance (which is incredibly important to me).

Not sure where to take your dog? Stay tuned for a post where I talk about how to choose the best doggy daycare.

Unfortunately, the indoor dog park here in Edmonton sadly closed last year. I know that was a very popular option for a lot of dog owners in the city as it was a warm and safe place to take your dog.

What if you live somewhere where doggy daycare is not available (such as a small town)? Then what?

Canine Enrichment Activities

Do you just hand feed your dogs treats? Or just put their food in a bowl?

There are now many options for canine enrichment where your dogs need to work at getting their treats or food out.

One the best options is putting a treat, peanut butter (100% natural peanut butter only) or some of their raw food in a Kong and let them work at trying to clean it out. A great challenge (and great if you have a teething puppy), is to trow it in the freezer before hand and then give it them.

Along the same line of a Kong is a Tumbler toy where you put a treat in it and your dog needs to roll it around to get the treat out. It keeps Max busy and frustrated for hours at a time (especially if you put in a treat that is hard to get out).

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Max giving up out of sheer frustration.

While Max like to think they are mini shag rugs, Dolly and Freckles love their Snuffle Mats.

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Max enjoying the mini shag rugs (AKA snuffle mats).

 

So what can you put in a snuffle mat? Anything you want (except raw food because that would be a gross mess). If you feed kibble, you can put their kibble in there or you can hide some treats in there for them to dig around and find.

If you do feed a raw diet, you can also use a Slow Feeder bowl and then your dogs will need to work at getting their food out (which also works well if your dog eats their food way too fast).

The great thing is that there are many different options and games you can get for your dog from your local pet store to keep them entertained in the cold, long winter months.

While none of these options are going to replace taking your dog out for a walk, they will help your dog burn off some energy which in return, will help you keep your sanity.