When the winter months approach even the most active dogs tend to want to stay away from the cold. But this is only for the first little while. After days and weeks of staying indoors a dog can become restless and engage in destructive behavior. So how can you save your dog from cabin fever?

One bored puppyCabin fever is a popular term used to characterize an individual or animal who has become bored, restless and short-tempered due to being in confined space (such as a house) for a very long time. You and I get it. And, dogs and cats get it too.

Restlessness strikes often in the winter because many animals never get to go outside and exercise.  

The best way to prevent your pets from boredom during the winter months is by keeping him physically and mentally stimulated. The following are some fun suggestions to keep your dog happy when it’s cold and rainy outside:

  • Put him to work: Many dogs were bred to work. So why not let your dog go back to his roots? Many smaller dogs such as Toy Poodles and Shih Tzu’s are great companions for the elderly. Inquire with your local long-term care facilities about any companion programs.If your dog is more of a stay-at-home kind of pooch, then teach him to help you out with your daily chores. Many dogs are very helpful at putting away toys. I am still working on Barry’s toy-put-up-ability!
  • Sign him up for a playgroup: During the winter months some owners enroll their dogs in playgroups. Playgroups allow dogs to play with friends and get out of the house for a couple of hours a week. Make sure to enroll your dog in a reputable playgroup, with certified trainers and safe activities.  If you do not have the time for a play group hire a pet sitter to come during your work day. 
  • Mental stimulation: A dog doesn’t need to be running around outside in order to stay healthy. Mental stimulation is one of the best things for a dog. Exercise your dog’s brain with fun and exciting games such as hide and seek. Hide and seek requires your dog to think of where you are hiding, while keeping his legs moving.
  • Other dogs love interactive toys. Interactive toys are filled with treats, and a dog needs to find a solution on how to get the treats out of the toy. Once he figures it out, he gets a reward.
  • Toys and more toys: If your dog has been advised to stay away from treats, or is not interested in new and interactive toys, then his regular chew toys will do. The key is to keep rotating the toys that he plays with so that he never gets bored of them.
  • Fetch: Fetch can be a fun game, even inside. Toss his favorite ball down the hall or around the basement or garage.
  • A good grooming: Believe it or not grooming your dog will help to prevent restlessness. This is because grooming helps to stimulate your dog’s nerves and mind.

It’s also important to remember that just because temperatures have dropped, it doesn’t mean that your dog must stay inside all the time. On mild days, take your dog with you when you run errands, or go for several short 10 minute walks around the block.