Living with dogs when the weather is bad

We’ve had a couple of days of rain now, and snow may be on the way. If you have a dog who likes to hang around and sit on the couch with you, this is perfect weather for curling up with a Netflix movie and a cup of tea. But if you have a very energetic or adolescent dog (or, heaven forbid, both), several days in a row of cold, wet conditions spells Fido going stir crazy. Here are some tricks I’ve found can help:rainywalk

  • Use mealtimes as mental and physical exercise; instead of feeding out of a bowl, use a food puzzle (see Busy Buddy link to the right). If that gets old, start hiding the food for your dog to find. Dogs are scavengers, and this approach to feeding meets an important need your dog has for expressing normal behavior. (And if you don’t provide the outlet, trust me, he’ll choose an outlet on his own, and you may not like it.)
  • Play gentle indoor fetch on carpeted surfaces or down a hallway with a good, no skid runner. Avoid slick surfaces and stairs as these can lead to injury. (Then you’ll really have a stir crazy dog, because she’ll have to rest from her injury.)
  • Teach your dog a trick. Any trick. This burns energy like you won’t believe, even if you keep your training to optimal 1-3 minute sessions. See the book to the right under Dog Training Books for ideas.
  • Groom your dog. It’s a great way to connect with your dog and break up the day. He probably needs it, and, if you’ve never done his feet before, you can use the nail trimming tips from my last post to get started.
  • And finally, bundle up and get out there. Even a short walk (10 min) can partly satisfy your dog’s need to take in smells and sights. Use a doggie coat if your pooch has very little body fat, and booties if you’ll be out for a long time on icy, salted roadways. Otherwise, rinse and towel off feet after your walk.

Don’t forget to take pictures of your dog in the snow! It could make a cute card for next year…

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