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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Boredom Busters for your Green Dog!

Winter can be a stressful time for dogs. It's cold, it's icy, it's just not fun to go outside and get all the exercise we need everyday.

We live further south and it has been raining for five days now! Winter weather can be challenging and makes for some bored dogs; just ask me and Gracie.

So what's a green dog to do with all that pent up energy? Have fun with some great green dog boredom busters you can enjoy indoors!

We have several categories of ideas to help your dog cope with the winter boredom blues - everything from homemade interactive activities and toys, to tricks, to green, healthy and eco-friendly interactive toys and games. So let's get started!

Indoor Games

Gracie and I love to play indoor games! And on days that it's super cold or very rainy, we play for our breakfast and/or dinner. It's not only super fun, but we get a little exercise, and the best part is we work our brains, which can tire out a dog almost just as much as physical exercise.

Here are some of my favorite indoor games.

Hide and Seek - Mum puts me in a sit stay downstairs and then she hides a target (we like to use a repurposed large container yogurt lid, BPA free of course!) with some of my dinner on it. You can use super high premium kibble (like Earthborn Holistic), or a nice little raw chicken neck (big enough that I won't choke). We like the ones from RAGD Partner Dogma Online). Then she gets about half way between me and the target and says 'find target!'. That's when I go to work, searching throughout the cabin to find my prey. In the beginning, you may want to try this with shorter distances until your dog gets the hang of it. It's super fun!

Tricks - I love to learn new tricks and so does Gracie! Mum keeps a nice list of tricks stuck to our refrigerator that she wants to teach us, so she always has good training material on hand.

Just the other day Mum taught me to get in a suitcase (great for smaller dogs). And she taught Gracie to get in a larger box with a lid. We had a great time.

If you're looking for ideas and great ways to teach tricks, visit our YouTube channel. And we recommend clicker training, which you can learn through some of the great resources on the Internet. Here are additional resources:
Homemade Interactive Games and Toys

Throughout the years we've been fortunate to learn lots of great ideas for making fun homemade, interactive games and toys from friends. Here are our favs:

Muffin Tin Game - this is one of my favorite games (see video below, it's how we learned it). Just make sure that you use a muffin tin that's stainless steel and tennis balls that are safe, K?

Hide the Treats - You can play this fun game a variety of ways. One way is to hide treats under an old cotton towel; or you can reuse some old toilet paper rolls and hide treats or organic peanut butter in them, adding another layer of difficulty. You can also do some fun nose work type of exercises by hiding treats under just one of three small stainless steel bowls (or small boxes) and let your dog work to find the treats or dinner.

And you can get a nice BPA free safe water bottle, cut safe holes in the side, add high quality kibble/treats and let them work to get the good stuff. Look around your house, we know you can find lots and lots of hide the treat materials, just remember to utilize safe and healthy materials, K? And for ammunition? You can find some great treats from our RAGD Partners Clear Conscience Pet, even ones that will keep that doggie waist line nice and trim - and they break up in smaller pieces to go further too!

You can also visit this great site for lots of ideas to make your own intelligent, interactive, and fun games for your dog! (It's in German, but you can see and get a lot of info from the photos).

Interactive dog puzzles, toys and games

Sometimes after playing with our homemade toys, we are ready for more challenges! That's when we turn to the pawsome interactive and intelligent dog toys on the market. New RAGD Partner P.L.A.Y has a few great interactive fun toys that make great fun indoors. 

They have a very cool P.L.A.Y. Tunnel which can make for lots of indoor fun, especially when you combine it with a quick down on the ottoman (good practice for agility).

Also they have this really new and fun P.L.A.Y. Wobble Ball Toy will provide hours of interactive fun and enrichment for your dog. Simply put a treat in and reward your dog for their persistence and intelligence!

Those are a few ideas to help you and your dog have more fun indoors during the super cold, wet, wintery weather days.

And remember, when it gets warmer, get out there and have a fun walk or hike. Some of the best hiking we've experienced is when there were a few inches of snow left on the ground from a big storm and it warmed up to 45 degrees with sun!

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