Winter Games for your Dog

Cindy SmithSenior Dogs


Winter. By far the harshest season for your pet. Even if you live in the balmy southern states, you still may be stuck inside from long stretches of rains. So here’s some games to keep everyone active in the winter and mentally and physically stimulated.

Fetch. Fetch is not just a game to play outside. I stand at the top of the stairs and throw the ball downstairs and have my dog bring the ball back up to me. If the weather outside is good, I use a tennis racket or Chuck it to get the ball to go far enough!

Obstacle course. Building a small obstacle course in the house is easy. As a kid, I loved to run and jump.  I set up makeshift jumps for my dog by putting broomsticks across chairs and having us go sailing under and over them. Note: Young puppies shouldn’t jump until they are old enough not to be harmed by the repeated impacts.

Where’s the Treat? Put your dog in a sit/stay about 10 feet away from 3 or 4 Solo cups, them make sure he can see you place a treat or toy under one.  Then say “Where’s the Treat?” Give him his reward and lots of praise when he dins the correct cup. You can increase the difficulty level by changing the position of the cups after you place the treats or pretending to put treats under multiple cups.

HIDE & SEEK. Have your dog stay in one room. Go into another room, and call your dog. Try not to give away your location by laughing or making noise!

Ball Pit. For this one you need a kiddie wading pool and non-toxic, sturdy ball-pit balls. Cover the bottom of the pool with towels (so the sound doesn’t scare your dog), fill the pool with balls (not water!) and have fun! If your dog is slightly scared, toss treats and favorite toys into the pool and let him of her dog for them.

Snuffle Mat (and other food toys). Interactive food dispensing toys can keep a dog occupied for hours and ward off those winter blues. Have you seen the ever popular “snuffle mat” where you bury treats if the cloth fingers of a textured mat? There’s also the Buster Food Cube, Canine Genius connectable toys or the Wobbler by Kong which many dogs love.

Flirt Pole. Take a sturdy pole with a rope fastened to one end and a toy fastened to the rope. You can make one or buy one. Stand in one place and swing the toy around for your dog to chase.

Name that Toy. Gather a group of toys that are very different. Hold one up for your dog to sniff and see, get him excited, toss it, saying where’s your [toy name]/ When he comes back with it, give him lots of praise, then repeat with the other toys, always calling the toys by the same names. Once he has mastered a few names, set out multiple toys and tell him which to get.

Nose Games. We know that a dog’s nose is powerful. Scent work is surprisingly tiring and because mot dogs love to sniff, it’s also very satisfying. Have your dog sit and wait (or someone hold her collar). Hold up a treat, walk six feet away, and place it on the floor. Return to your dog, pause, and then say “search!” Encourage ger to run and eat the treat. Then start hiding the treat in different and harder places!

Hula Hoop. Adults and dogs alike love hula hoops, although dogs can only jump through them.

When the weather is frightful, you and your dog need to find some games that are safe and fun!!