What To Do When It’s COLD Outside?
It is January 23 and it is COLD outside! I’ve notice a lot of questions on social media asking about what to do with our pups during the coldest part of winter so they don’t get too bored and unruly. If you have a short haired dog or a pup that just doesn’t like to be out in the snow or cold, you have to find an outlet for those pent up energies that come along with not getting out for the normal walks and play times. Depending on the age & training level your pup is at you have a few options when working indoors.
Here are a few things you can do indoors with your pup to keep his mind occupied and help tire him out.
1) Basic Training! Yes! Training is one of the very best activities you can do with a young puppy. Work on the basics like sit, down, come and stay. Have short training sessions, (3 to 5 minutes), with your pup all throughout the day to get him solid on the basic commands. You can do these short sessions 5 or 6 times or more in a day and your pup will improve drastically in his understanding of what you want from him. You can include all of the basics or you can choose to work on mainly one of them.
For example you may want to work on your young pups ‘down stay’. Start by having him stay in his ‘down’ for just a few seconds, release and praise. Gradually extend the time you have him stay until he can stay for a minute or longer. When your pup seems good on the ‘stay’ for a nice length of time you can then work on walking away from him, asking him to stay while you walk into another room or any number of distractions.
2) Agility! Yes..agility! You can build a fun and ever changing agility course right in your own home! You just have to get creative in your thinking to come up with fun ideas for you and your pup. After you have taught your pup a few activities you can string the all together and run an indoor agility course!
A few ideas are:
Running stairs. Teach your pup to go up and then down the stairs, if you have them in your house. Give a command for the activity you want and teach in sections first until your puppy knows what you want. For example; teach the pup to climb the stairs on command first and then teach him to come down the stairs. Eventually you may want to add and object that he has to go around before coming back down to you.
Get Up: You can teach your pup to jump up on an object at your command. Start with a very low and very stable object. The size of your puppy will make a lot of difference here as to what you can use. For a very small puppy something as small as a large book will work great…for bigger pups you can use a chair, bench or a very sturdy low table such as a coffee table or even a step of a stairway. The main thing is to teach him to get up on an object of your choosing on command. *(You MUST be responsible and insure that the object is safe and stable for the puppy to use! If the object wobbles or falls over your pup could become fearful of it and refuse to learn any more.)
Balance beam: You can easily build a sturdy balance beam for your puppy to learn on in the house. Again it will depend on the size of your puppy as to what you use for your beam. For a small pup you can use books and a board but for a larger pup you can use patio block or cement blocks with a board for the beam. To start with you will want to make sure the beam board is wide enough to develop confidence in your puppy. After he has taken to the task and learned to walk on the beam you can switch it out to a little narrower board. For indoor work with a puppy there is no reason to go too narrow or high wit the balance beam. You are just training for fun here and keeping your relationship with your pup on a FUN level. 🙂
Tunnel: Another fun one is a home made tunnel. When my pups were small I used a bit of culvert that we found left over from a project. It was about 4 feet long and we had LOTS of fun playing with it. I taught my pups to ‘shoot through’ by having a treat on one end to coax them through when I gave the command. They loved the tunnel so much they would play on and around it by themselves if we left it down for them.
Teeter: If your pup is an outgoing type you can even make a very low beginner teeter toter out of a board and a book or other object. I would wait until after the balance beam has been at least well introduced to go on to this one. 🙂
3) Tracking and Hide & Seek: Another fun game you can play with your pup indoors is hide and seek. For this game you can use treats or toys or whatever you have found that motivates your puppy. You can have him find someone in the family who has hidden in the house somewhere or you can hide treats/toys around for him to find. A variation of this is to teach the pup to ‘find’ an object or a treat by using his sense of smell on a trail you have put down. (You will want to do this one on a hard floor, not a carpet.) 🙂 While the pup is out of the room drag a ‘smelly’ treat across the floor and hide it in a simple place for the pup to find at the end of the trail. At first you will want to make the hiding places very simple and easy for the pup. Eventually he will come to understand what you want from him and he will enjoy the game as much as you do.
These are just a few of the indoor games and activities you can do with your pup during the cold days of winter. You are really only limited by your own imagination and your relationship with your puppy. AND…by using some of these fun techniques your relationship with your puppy is guaranteed to improve and you will ALL be happier!
Wishing you and your new puppy all the best! Ear scratches all around! 🙂
Sue Lee Ringwelski