When the days are short and the nights longer, it’s easy for most of us — including our dogs — to get bored and restless. Add the cold and busyness of the holiday season, and those long winter months can lead to boredom, behavior problems, and general lethargy. Our pets need daily exercise and enrichment to stay at their best, but winter can throw a wrench in those activities. 

We’ve written about fun cold-weather activities and indoor enrichment. The team at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is back with eight more suggestions to help keep your dog active in winter. With a little bit of creativity and effort, your furry friend won’t be bored through the cold months.

8 Creative Activities to Relieve Pet Boredom

As with children, when dogs get bored, destructive or problem behaviors ensue. This can mean everything from depression to chewing and getting into things they shouldn’t. To avoid these scenarios, plan for some playtime — even when you can’t get outside. Here are a few of our favorite boredom-busting activities.

  1. Indoor fun — Set up a rec room, living room, or basement with interactive games, like a rope for tug-of-war or an agility course using boxes and baby gates. Or fill a kiddie pool full of balls or pillows where your dog can search out a treat. Whatever games you normally play outside, like fetch, you can play indoors with some planning.
  2. Dog dancing — Who doesn’t love to jam to their favorite tunes and dance out excess stress and boredom? Put some upbeat songs on your playlist and get your dog into dancing by jumping around with them.
  3. Doggie chores — Wouldn’t it be great if you could come home to a clean house after your dog has been busy with the vacuum? Okay, well, these chores probably won’t get rid of the dust bunnies, but did you know that many dogs like to work? Try teaching them to fetch the mail (as long as the coast is clear on the roads) or your slippers. You can also teach your pet to clean up after themselves by putting away toys, or tidying up the yard by picking up sticks.
  4. Learn new tricks — Even if your dog has been thoroughly trained, an old dog can learn new tricks. Just in time for the holidays (when you can show off your dog’s skills), you can teach your dog fun tricks like “roll over”, “shake”, “spin”, and many more. You can also teach your pet advanced training if you sign them up for a group class. It serves as extra social time to help keep your dog happy.
  5. New walking route — When the weather isn’t too frightful outside, bundle up your dog with a coat and booties and go for a walk in a new neighborhood. Even on cold days, you can always don winter attire and go to the park for a quick run or for a drive through a new neighborhood, or to visit a dog-friendly friend. Just avoid those extra frigid days.
  6. Go to the mall — Combine socialization and exercise by taking your well-behaved pooch to the mall or other indoor, pet-friendly store. You probably won’t be the only pet owner who decided to pack up the fluffball and head out to get some walking time in. Many indoor malls and shopping centers encourage pet lovers to come with their Fido or other furry friends.
  7. DIY dog or cat treats — When the weather is too cold to do anything outside, put your skills to the test with some baking. Is there a healthy recipe you’ve been interested in trying out? Include your furry friend by bringing them into the kitchen. Make up some healthy dog biscuits or kitty snacks, or even try your hand at homemade pet food. Your pet will be more than happy to be the taste tester.
  8. Dog dating — If you are single and adore your pet, dating sites for dog (or cat) lovers are all the rage. You can meet other pet owners whose four-legged friends are important to them, too. This is also a fun way to get your pet out and about with you, and who knows? You and your pet may just meet your perfect match.

Are you Keeping Your Dog Active?

What are ways you keep your dog active in winter? Have you come up with any inspired activities and games? We would love to hear all about it! Simply give us a call or post on our Facebook.

Stay warm this winter and continue to give your pet those daily exercises and snuggles to keep them at their best.