Great Indoor Games to Play With Your Dog

The weather outside is frightful…  but my dog is going crazy!

 

When you can’t get outside with your pooch, here are some ideas for great indoor games that will give your dog some mental and physical exercise.  Feel free to involve your kids as well if they are big enough!

 

Play Hide and Seek

Give each family member a handful of treats and have them take turns hiding somewhere in the home.  The hiding person calls the dog to them and then rewards them with treats.  When the treats are gone, tell your dog “all done!”, and then go hide again.  Repeat ad nauseum!

 

Tug and Fetch

Playing tug and fetch are great physical games that can be played anywhere!  A long hallway or stairs can add extra exercise to a game of fetch for a young and healthy dog.

 

Find It!

This game involves sniffing and eating, two of your dog’s favorite things!  You can use your dog’s regular meal or some low calorie treats for this game.  Show your dog a treat or piece of kibble; say “find it!” then toss the morsel onto the floor.  If your dog doesn’t quite get the point, start by dropping the food right in front of her, and gradually toss the food farther and farther away.

You can make it even more difficult for good sniffers by asking your dog to “stay” while you hide the food somewhere, then release them to go find it!

 

The Muffin Tin Game

I love this game for its simplicity and mental enrichment!

Place a treat (or piece of kibble) in each cup of a muffin tin, and place a tennis ball on top of the treats in about half of the cups (not all of them).  Put the muffin tin on the floor for your dog.  Once they find all the uncovered treats, it won’t take them long to figure out that they can find more treats by knocking out the tennis balls!

 

Training Manners and Having Fun

Using your stuck-indoors time to reinforce your dog’s obedience training can be an excellent way to exercise his brain and tire him out!

You can test and treat your dog on the “Basic Five” – sit, stay, come, down, and heel.

Or, you can teach your dog some new tricks, like spin around, roll over, shake a paw, or close a cabinet.  Let your imagination run wild, and have fun!

(By the way, there are some excellent training videos online to learn from…  just make sure that you are only using positive rewards during your training so you and your dog are both having fun!)

 

Schedule A Doggie Playdate

Does your dog have a best friend?  Invite them over for a playdate!  This is a great way to wear your dog out.

Just make sure you clear some space of breakables… we all know how crazy dog play can get!

 

Stuff A Kong

Are you worn out from all this play, but your dog is still full of it?  While you sit with your cuppa tea or coffee and a good book, give your pup a stuffed Kong to occupy his time!

You can stuff a durable Kong toy with peanut butter and kibble, or freeze it full of peanut butter or broth.  I love this article from Puppy Leaks with some excellent Kong-stuffing ideas!

 

If you use these or any other ideas for your indoor play, I’d love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment below with your favorite indoor games!

 

Dr. D’s Tips: How to safely walk your dog in the cold

Okay, so this is an old article…  but it’s still relevant!  If you’re getting outside with your dog this winter, check out the following tips to make sure you both have a great time!

 

In Colorado, we don’t let a little winter get in the way of our outdoorsy-ness  (is that a word?).

Our dogs go with us, most of the time.  How can you keep your furry friend safe while they are participating in winter activities?

Here are Dr. D’s top tips for keeping your woof safe and happy while you’re out in the fresh winter air:

1.  Make sure your pet is properly dressed.

Just as you wouldn’t go out in the elements without the right clothing, your dog may need a jacket or sweater to wear, too!  Just because they come equipped with a fur coat, doesn’t mean they’re warm enough to be outside for long periods of time.  Unless they are a Husky or other thick-coated breed of dog, they need to wear some extra protection.

2.  Protect those paws!

You wear shoes outside in the winter, right?  Let your dog wear some fancy kicks, too.  Most dogs don’t have a protective layer of fur over their paws, so they need some protection from the, literally, freezing sidewalks, snow, and ice.  A set of booties won’t set you back too much, and it’s certainly cheaper than treating your dog’s paws for frostbite.

3.  Use a solid leash, not the retractable leash-of-death.

Seriously, I would outlaw those retractable leashes if I could.  A jogger’s leash, which attaches around your waist and is hands-free, could be a great alternative for you and your pet.

4.  Use a front-clip harness or Gentle Leader to reduce pulling.

If your pup hasn’t quite mastered the idea of walking gently while on the leash, these are fantastic tools to help keep you safe from a slip and fall on the ice when Rufus tries to pull like a sled dog.  You also might consider taking this opportunity to teach Rufus to walk nicely.  Just sayin’.

5.  Make sure your pet stays dry.

We Coloradans know there’s nothing worse, or more dangerous, than a wet and cold base layer.  It’s no different for Fido.  If he gets wet, head home.

6.  Stay away from frozen lakes and ponds.

Your dog can easily fall through thin ice.  Then you’d have to jump in after him to save his dog-gone life.  And that would be unpleasant.

7.  Towel off those tootsies!

When you get home or back to your car, dry off your pet’s paws (all four, now).  Be sure to get between the toes.  This is done in order to get the ice melt and/or ice off your pet’s feet.  Ice melt can cause major irritation to the paws, and if they lick it off… well, that causes a whole other problem (can you say toxin?).

As always after exercise, be sure to give your doggie some fresh water!

And one more Bonus Tip:

If your pooch is shaking, trembling, or pulling toward home… take that little warm-blooded creature home!  It’s just too cold for them outside.  There are some other great indoor games you can play until it warms up a bit.

Did you enjoy this article?  Fantastic!  Now see those little buttons down there?  Click Like or Share!  It only takes a second.
Also remember, Dr. D is always here for you and your pets!  Go HERE to find all the ways to contact her.
Dr. D's winter safety tips

Q&A: How do I walk my pet safely in the winter?

In Colorado, we don’t let a little winter get in the way of our outdoorsy-ness  (is that a word?).

 

Our dogs go with us, most of the time.  How can you keep your furry friend safe while they are participating in winter activities?

Here are Dr. D’s top tips for keeping your woof safe and happy while you’re out in the fresh winter air:

1.  Make sure your pet is properly dressed.

Just as you wouldn’t go out in the elements without the right clothing, your dog may need a jacket or sweater to wear, too!  Just because they come equipped with a fur coat, doesn’t mean they’re warm enough to be outside for long periods of time.  Unless they are a Husky or other thick-coated breed of dog, they need to wear some extra protection.

2.  Protect those paws!

You wear shoes outside in the winter, right?  Let your dog wear some fancy kicks, too.  Most dogs don’t have a protective layer of fur over their paws, so they need some protection from the, literally, freezing sidewalks, snow, and ice.  A set of booties won’t set you back too much, and it’s certainly cheaper than treating your dog’s paws for frostbite.

3.  Use a solid leash, not the retractable leash-of-death.

Seriously, I would outlaw those retractable leashes if I could.  A jogger’s leash, which attaches around your waist and is hands-free, could be a great alternative for you and your pet.

4.  Use a front-clip harness or Gentle Leader to reduce pulling.

If your pup hasn’t quite mastered the idea of walking gently while on the leash, these are fantastic tools to help keep you safe from a slip and fall on the ice when Rufus tries to pull like a sled dog.  You also might consider taking this opportunity to teach Rufus to walk nicely.  Just sayin’.

5.  Make sure your pet stays dry.

We Coloradans know there’s nothing worse, or more dangerous, than a wet and cold base layer.  It’s no different for Fido.  If he gets wet, head home.

6.  Stay away from frozen lakes and ponds.

Your dog can easily fall through thin ice.  Then you’d have to jump in after him to save his dog-gone life.  And that would be unpleasant.

7.  Towel off those tootsies!

When you get home or back to your car, dry off your pet’s paws (all four, now).  Be sure to get between the toes.  This is done in order to get the ice melt and/or ice off your pet’s feet.  Ice melt can cause major irritation to the paws, and if they lick it off… well, that causes a whole other problem (can you say toxin?).

As always after exercise, be sure to give your doggie some fresh water!

And one more Bonus Tip:

If your pooch is shaking, trembling, or pulling toward home… take that little warm-blooded creature home!  It’s just too cold for them outside.  There are some other great indoor games you can play until it warms up a bit.

 

Did you enjoy this article?  Fantastic!  Now see those little buttons down there?  Click Like or Share!  It only takes a second.
Also remember, Dr. D is always here for you and your pets!  Go HERE to find all the ways to contact her, including booking an appointment!

 

Q&A: How often should my Colorado dog get a bath?

The perfect dog bath.

The perfect dog bath.

 

Does this seem like a simple question?  Surprisingly, it’s one of the most common questions that I get asked as a veterinarian!

In Colorado’s dry climate, pet owners worry about the effect of bathing on their dog’s skin – and with good reason.  Too frequent bathing can strip your dog’s skin of helpful natural oils, which can make him prone to dandruff, matted fur, irritation, and lesions.  So, I’m here to give you the low-down on caring for your dog’s skin and coat.

Most dogs will not require a bath more often than once every 4 weeks.  However, there are breed differences that may require you to bathe your pup more or less often:

  • If your dog has a more oily coat (like a Basset Hound or Terrier), they will likely require weekly bathing to keep their skin healthy.
  • Short-haired breeds with smooth coats, like Weimaraners and Beagles, may need less frequent bathing.
  • Water-loving breeds like Golden Retrievers have water-repelling coats, and require bathing less often in order to preserve their natural oils.
  • Thick-coated breeds, such as Samoyeds and other Northern breeds, do much better with less bathing and more frequent brushing.

Of course, these are just simple guidelines.  If your dog loves swimming, digging, or rolling in you-know-what, they may require bathing more often.  If in doubt, give him a sniff – If he stinks, suds him up!

Here are a few tips to help with bath time:

  1.   Brush your dog’s fur before you bathe him.  Matted fur traps water and can lead to skin irritation.
  2.  Use a dog shampoo!  Human shampoo is too harsh to use on your pooch.  If you’re not sure what to use, your veterinarian can recommend some good options.
  3.   Use lukewarm water – about the temperature you would use for a newborn baby.  Dogs can overheat easily, and their skin is more sensitive to extreme temperatures than ours.
  4.   Rinse well, towel off, and air-dry!  Blow dryers designed for humans can cause burns, and will dry out the skin even more.
  5.   Give your dog a reward when it’s over.  Dr. D is all about the positive experience, so give that good dog some treats!

 

Make bath time a great experience!

Make bath time a great experience!

 

I know that many of my clients in the Broomfield area are concerned about their pet’s dry skin, especially in the winter.  So here are a few more things you can do for your pooch to help them be less dry and itchy this year:

  • Feed your dog a high quality diet.  I can spot a dog that’s eating a poor diet from a mile away, just by looking at their coat.
  • Consider supplementing your dog’s diet with high quality Omega fatty acids, Vitamin E, or a combination of both.  These supplements will support your dog’s skin from the inside out.
  • Bathe less often.  If you must bathe your dog frequently, even in the winter, you can use a dog conditioner after bathing to help soothe the skin.

 

These tips should go a long way toward helping you maintain your dog’s healthy coat and skin.  And, as a reminder, if you notice any lesions, redness, foul odors, or excessive itching despite these efforts, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian!

 

P.S.  If your dog suffers from itchy skin due to allergies, weekly bathing with special shampoo may be appropriate.  Consult your veterinarian for details.