Indoor pet activities for the winter

Jan 15, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. ET

If you’re dealing with a winter deluge of snow or dangerously icy sidewalks, your dog may be driving you nuts. Just as we humans get stir-crazy when we can’t get outdoors, our furry pals get even more restless – they, after all, don’t care what the weather is like, they just want to play. Here are a few indoor pet activities, as suggested by Nicola Anderson, renowned Australian dog trainer and founder of

Dog playing tug

Snowed in? Keep your pup stimulated

Dogs are meant to be outdoors, love being outdoors, live for being outdoors. Keeping your dog well-exercised will help you both keep your sanity. Regardless of the season, professional dog behaviorist Nicola Anderson, suggests daily stimulation for your pet. "I often recommend doing some basic obedience exercises with your dog – just about 10 minutes a day," says Anderson. "This will mentally exhaust your dog, and a tired dog is always a happy dog."

Nip bad-dog behavior

You know how being cooped up can make you irritable and want to break pencils and stomp your feet? Well, dogs don't have the human reasoning to not act on their irritability, and many will chew or scratch the carpet or furniture because they don't know any better. Anderson says it's crucial to stop this kind of dog behavior; they need to be trained not to destroy things and given appropriate alternatives to acting out their frustration.

Reward your dog for good behavior

"Do not let your dog run around the house and get away with bad behavior; you must assert boundaries and rules without any physical punishment," says Anderson. "And always remember to reward your dog with praise for good behavior." If you can't walk your dog so he can get some exercise, play games in your house. This will help your dog spend his pent-up energy.

Indoor pet activities to keep your dog stimulated

You don't need to build a large kennel run in your living room so your dog can run from one end to the other. Simply get creative and find ways to keep your pup stimulated.

1Freeze and find dog toys

Dogs love to find things, especially tasty treats. Freeze a Kong chew toy or another toy with treats inside so that it takes longer for your dog to get the treats out.

2Random rewards dog toys

Keep old soft drink bottles and cut holes in them so that you can put treats inside them. As your pawed pal moves the bottle around, treats will fall out -- this activity stimulates and rewards your dog.

3Reach for treat-giving dog toys

Hang ropes and attach treats to them using small amounts of peanut butter or cream cheese. Dry treats or dog food pieces work best. When your pup goes to grab the treat, the rope toy moves and makes it harder for your dog to get to the treat, creating a fun reward system.

4Hide-and-seek dog treats

Hide dry dog treats throughout your house, so your dog has to forage for them (not recommended near nice furniture). This takes time and keeps your pup's mind active and interested.

5Play doggie tug-of-war

In an open area in your house, use an old towel or rope to play tug of war with your dog. Just make sure you always stay leader of your pack; if you let your dog win, he's going to try to move into the alpha role.

6Make your dog earn his treats

Combine obedience training and treats by asking your dog to sit, drop, come, stand, stay, do tricks or any other action for him to earn his treats.

When the winter weather (or at least the sidewalk) clears, be sure to get back on your outdoor walking or exercise schedule. Indoor play is fun, but you and your dog will benefit from fresh air activity.

For more dog training tips, visit

Snowed-in activity

How to make dog biscuits

This healthy dog biscuit recipe is a fun activity to do with kids and dogs.

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Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan's dog training tips
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