Beat the Winter Doggie Blues

During those two or three months when it's actually cold in South Carolina, our girls go a little stir crazy. With my fibromyalgia I don't walk well outside when it gets too cold. So they either have to play in the backyard or follow me around the house. Not too exciting, huh?

We've found a handful of indoor games that pass the time, keep the girls entertained and out of trouble. Plus we work on obedience training at the same time - bonus!

* Our favorite is hide-and-seek with treats. I'll lock them out of the living room and hide little treat pieces in all the nooks and crannies. (Little pieces, mind you. The last thing I need are overweight dogs!) Then I release the hounds and let them play detective. This is how I taught Sadie to use her nose and not her eyes.

* Take time to go beyond the basic dog commands. We've taught our girls to "back up" and "wait." Danny's been trying to teach Bailey how to balance a treat on her nose, but that's going to take some time. Dogs love a challenge, so pick some useful actions and start practicing!

* Expand your dog's vocabulary. Lay out her toys and have her only fetch the one you name. Start with one and add more until she can choose from a whole pile. Then work on things that aren't her toys like the newspaper, a magazine or a blanket. (Not recommended for slobbery dogs!)

* Catch up on your grooming. During the winter months Bailey's coat is much thicker and comes out more easily...everywhere. We'll have grooming sessions every couple of days to keep flying fur a t a minimum. Plus it's a great bonding time and she loves her massage! Keep your grooming tools handy so you can groom while watching television, talking on the phone or in the evening before you go to bed.

* Hallway soccer is a great game for more active dogs. Sadie is our ball-dog and she loves this game! The idea is that she's the goalkeeper and I have to get the ball past her - which rarely happens. She'll come running back with it, then I use the "drop it" and "back up" commands to play again. After a while she'll do it on her own, without any commands, just so we'll keep playing.

All of these games translate well outdoors when the temperatures get warmer. Anything that works them out and prepares for a great nap later works for us!


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