Your dog loves being outdoors (fire hydrant! squirrel! smells!), and it’s impossible to not feel at least a little of their excitement. Even when the air starts to get a bit crisper, being outside is still pretty great. But when winter hits, figuring out how to keep your dog happily exercised and occupied requires a little more creativity — and inside time. Here’s how to make sure you and your dog have a great winter together, no matter how low the temperature dips.
1. Create an indoor obstacle course: Sometimes, a chair is more than a chair. Use your furniture and other household objects to create a course for your dog to go over, under and around. Lead them through a couple times until they get the hang of it.
2. Turn your basement into a playground: Whether your dog’s toy of choice is a frisbee or a tennis ball, turning the basement (or any room with extra space) into a play area is a great way for your dog to get the exercise they need on those icky days.
3. Schedule a dog play session: Does your dog have a best friend (besides you, of course)? Invite them over for an hour of play. While they’re wrestling, update your Netflix queue or chat with their owner over a mug of cocoa.
4. Get on the treadmill: They’re not just for humans. Start with a comfortable walking pace for your dog. We’re fans of a little bribery here, so give them their favorite treat after they put in a good 20 minutes or so. You can even invest in a dog-specific treadmill too.
5. Go to the pet store to pick out a new toy: Okay, so this one is cheating a bit since you have to go outside — unless you’re lucky enough to live above a pet store. We recommend letting your dog sniff around the toy section until they find The One.
6. Get out your grooming kit: Take advantage of the next gloomy day to brush, trim and clip. Of course, if you’ve never groomed your dog before, check with your vet to make sure you’re giving your dog the care they need.
7. Teach an old (or young) dog new tricks: Physical exercise is key, but keeping your dog’s mind sharp is just as important. Help reinforce good behavior by practicing commands you’ve both been working on, or learn some new ones. By the time summer rolls around, your dog will be the most well-behaved on the block.
8. Make time for cuddles: Winter’s a great time to slow down and get in some QT with your pup. Get a fresh blanket out of the dryer, find a comfortable cuddle position and hit play on the top five dog movies of 2015. Sometimes, a good snuggle with their favorite human is all they need.
How do you have indoor time with your pup? Share your thoughts in the comments below.