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Things To Do With Your Dog In The Winter!

By Kate Bendix; broadcaster, journalist, founder of My Itchy Dog 9 months ago 14107 Views

Are you sick to death of the mud? I truly am, it seems there is nowhere decent to walk right now and give the dog a good run. Fortunately for me I live by the sea, and if the tide’s right we’re on the beach but most of us don’t have that privilege.

So what’re you supposed to do through these dark winter days to entertain and exercise your dog, and to retain your own sanity at the same time?

Don’t stop walking

All the parks, fields and downland are a mud bath right now so Nikita and I are doing a lot more pavement walking. We go two or three times a day for 20 minutes or so at a time. I wrap up warm and let her lead the way.

Dogs love to sniff and letting them guide the walk, pausing at gateposts and on grass verges means she’s had a great mental work out, checked her pee-mail and assured herself there’s no funny business occurring on her patch. She’s happy to settle down for a couple of hours afterwards.

Snuffle Mats

Otherwise known as treat mats, snuffle mats are a great way to get your dog hunting for food and switching their brains on when it’s tipping it down outside. They’re made from a fleece material fixed to a heavy rubber mat. The idea is you bury small bits of treat deep within the folds of cloth (Natural Instinct Beef Jerky is are great!)

Leave it down and let your dog to hunt out her treats. A great boredom reliever, I have one for Nikita made by who donates all her profits to dog rescue charities and the quality is tops.

Make ‘em work for food!

If you have a food motivated dog get yourself a Kong Classic rubber toy and hide their breakfast or dinner inside. A Kong is a super tough rubber toy shaped to be hard to hold. It has a hole in the bottom you can stuff with treats or food, the object of the game being that your dog has to work to get the food out.

Natural Instinct food is perfect for this and because Kong’s are thoroughly washable there is no hygiene risk. Simply stuff the Kong with Natural Instinct and give it to your dog. Best to do this in the kitchen or somewhere there is a washable floor surface. Keeps dogs quiet for ages and again, gives them a good mental workout.

Hide their stuff!

Sadly Nikita isn’t motivated by toys otherwise this would be a cracker, but for a dog who is just take their favourite toys once in a while and put them somewhere else around the house. Dogs have a sense of smell we can only dream of and hunting for their toys will keep them amused. Just don’t give them a complex and do it all the time. Dogs also get a lot of comfort from having their favourite stuff close by, as do we all, but once in a while is fine.

Another good hide and seek game is to take tiny treats, or treats you can break up, get your dog’s attention then throw them a treat one by one either under the sofa, down the hallway, under a table and so on. You only need a very small amount so they’re not putting on weight but a dog will go a long way for a tiny shred of beef jerky or chicken heart (both of which Natural Instinct offer). If your dog is motivated by raw carrot use that. Whatever gets their attention.

Grooming and Massage

Giving your dog a good brush can be a bonding experience for both of you. So if your dog loves it you can while away a whole episode of Coronation Street (when is Phelan going to get his comeuppance that’s what I want to know) giving your dog’s coat a real going over.

Nikita likes a massage (don’t we all) plus her back has been a bit stiff ever since she put it out chasing a fox through the alley that runs along the back of the house. And all that extra lying about we do in winter can make us stiffen up. It’s no different for dogs so she gets a regular massage plus some help from our Photizo light therapy tool which has really helped reduce stiffness and inflammation. I got mine from expensive but definitely worth it with two old timers in the house.

Kate with Nikita

Run dog friendly errands

You’d be surprised how many places your dog is allowed in to. It is only illegal for dogs to enter kitchens in the UK. That’s kitchens, not cafes. So it’s always worth asking if dogs are allowed in, so take them with you when you’re out and about in town.

In Worthing, where I live, Nikita is allowed (and has come with me) to the hairdresser, beautician, oseteopath (I kid you not), post office, cafes, pubs and restaurants. She comes to the library too, and the office occasionally.

By the time we get home she’s had enough and is more than happy to settle down for a snooze.

No, granted it’s not the Downs on a glorious spring day but spring is coming and soon all the above will be a distant memory. While we’re still wrapped up against the cold, wet and dreary days of winter however some or all of the above will make things a little more tolerable at least.

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