The winter months – especially here at dogIDs’ HQ in Fargo, ND – can get pretty long, and very cold. Add in early sunsets to limit walk time, and you’ve got a recipe for an energetic and under-stimulated dog. Luckily, we’ve brainstormed some easy, fun, and free ways to engage your dog to give them some much-needed mental exercise when you’re stuck inside.
Here are some great DIY ways to keep your dog engaged during the winter:
DIY snuffle mat
Snuffle mats are a great way to serve kibble, slow down eating, and engage your dog’s brain.
-Lay out an old towel on the floor
-Sprinkle kibble all over the towel
-Pinch the center of your towel and twist in one direction until you’ve wrapped the towel into a circle. Tuck in the corners of your snuffle mat and let your dog enjoy!
Put your dogs’ food into an empty egg carton, close it, and seal with tape. Your dog will have fun getting her kibble out of the carton through the holes on top. Caution: make sure to watch your dog while they do this activity to ensure they don’t rip and eat the egg carton!
Using the same towel from the snuffle mat exercise, lay out training treats (or broken up pieces of regular treats) on your towel. Roll the towel horizontally and twist it into a loose pretzel-like shape. Now your dog has to figure out how to undo the knot, and unroll the towel to get to her treats. You can make this game easier or harder depending on how tight or loose you twist the towel.
Find the Treat
This one uses your dog’s scent skills and provides physical exercise. Grab a high-value treat and let your dog smell it. Tell him or her to sit and stay while you hide the treat somewhere in your house (tip to make it more advanced: touch the treat to different areas in your home while you are finding your hiding place)
Hide and Go Seek
Whose scent does your dog know better than your own? Instead of a treat, ask them to sit and stay, and go find a hiding place! Use a release command and wait for them to sniff their way to you!
Turn meal time into training time
Why not use this opportunity to work on new skills with your dog? Put their food in a small bag or Tupperware container and use it as training treats as you teach a new trick, or reinforce one you’ve been working on.
Hopefully, you’ve found some new ways to keep your pup happy and engaged this winter.