When extreme winter weather means our canine has to be confined indoors for days, how do we deal with the inevitable cabin fever? We may be content to cuddle up next to a roaring fire with a good book and a snuggly fur-baby, but for our canine companions daytime is for playtime.
Dogs need exercise and the great outdoors, but not just because we want them to be healthy and to avoid the diseases and risks associated with being overweight. Dogs need exercise, particularly in the great outdoors, because a dog’s olfactory system is directly tied to their healthy functions, like digestion. Dogs need physical stimulation as well as smells to trigger their digestion. Winter can be the toughest time to make this happen. Movement is also imperative for mental and emotional health in humans and pups. We all need fresh air and mental stimulation to be healthy and avoid developing neurosis, including chewing, licking, scratching, misbehaving, and more. Here are a few tips.
Even though physical, mental, and emotional stimulation are need for all dogs to be healthy, olfactory stimulation is particularly important for digestive health. Dogs need daily scents and exploration to stimulate proper digestion. If your dog suffers from flatulence, irregular movements, or they’re stomach rumbles even when it isn’t mealtime, this isn’t normal. These problems can be caused by poor nutrition and poor digestion. EcoDigestive™ is he answer, especially during those long winter months when Fido can’t outdoors to enjoy a leisurely walk, sniffing shrubs and exploring trees and open spaces. EcoDigestive™ is a probiotic and enzyme support formula designed specifically for dogs and cats to get the most out of mealtime for a healthier, happier life.
When Winter isn’t Magical
Sooner or later, the winter weather can become depressing. And when freezing temperatures, long rainstorms, and other extreme weather conditions prevent us and our dogs from going outside for days on end, the restriction can quickly become tiresome and oppressing. What’s a dog to do? Well, he’ll find ways to release all his anxious energy; and this often translates to inappropriate behaviors. Being stuck inside with a restless and misbehaving dog will also make us want to pull all our hair out. To keep our sanity, and to keep Fido happy and distract him from his new and stressful seasonal situation, we should create a routine that engages his motor and cognitive skills.
Get him reacquainted with his training regimen. We can also teach him new tricks. Once a day training, a few times a week, if not daily, will give Fido both physical and mental stimulation. Of course, training will also reinforce good behavior. This will be a great time to teach our pooch more challenging tricks that will require him to learn multiple behaviors to accomplish. For example, teaching a dog to play dead after you say “Bang!” involves Fido learning to lay down, roll on his back, and freeze. The harder the trick, the greater the mental and physical stimulation. And we should not forget to reward him with treats!
Make time for playtime. Being stuck indoors doesn’t mean we can’t play with our dog. We should dedicate at least 15-minutes each day, every day, to playtime. Games we can play indoors include fetch, hide-and-seek, and tug-of-war. Playtime shapes a dog’s life and is actually critical to the ways a dog perceives and interacts with his world. Check out THIS article for more.
Fido should also have access to a variety of toys. We can hide some in places that he likes to explore. It’s also a good idea to give him a fresh assortment on a regular basis to prevent him from getting bored with his toys. This does not mean that we should frequently buy him new toys. We can simply store a few extra toys that we can switch with another to keep him interested. Be careful not to switch out his favorite toy. Whatever toy is a long-time favorite needs to stay in the mix.
Watch a movie together. Our dog will definitely enjoy cuddle-time with us, especially given the cold and dreary weather. And there are plenty of dog-friendly and dog-themed movies that he will enjoy and will help him relax. Movie time would be perfect after we’ve tired him out from his training or playtime. As long as cuddle time isn’t at the end of a long day of lying around, snuggle time, not just time spent sitting on the floor next to us while we watch a movie, will release endorphins and stimulate the love centers of the brain. This response increases happiness and creates a sense of trust and calmness. Keep in mind, there is such a thing as Cat TV and Dog TV. When we can’t watch TV with them, we can at least give them more to do with their attention than stare out the window.
Play music you can dance or relax to. Teaching our dogs to dance with us would make for a fun, new trick! It will also engage him physically and should help him release some of his energy. Playing relaxing music, on the other hand, will help soothe him and give him a sense of “company,” especially when we have to leave him alone at home.
Being confined inside the house for a prolonged period does not have to be a boring and stressful time for our dog. If we make time, every day, for one-on-one interaction with Fido, he’ll be happy and grateful for the opportunity to spend more time in our company. What dog doesn’t want their human around? The important thing is to give him the attention he needs when he needs that loving attention.
- “How to Find Non-Toxic Dog Toys and Tell If a Toy is Safe,” Preventative Vet
- “Dangers of Cabin Fever,” Warren Eckstein and the Pet Show
- “Indoor Activities for Dogs With Cabin Fever,” Animal Humane Society