Polar Vortex: The Stuck Inside Blues

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It’s winter here in Michigan.  It’s expected to be cold, snowy and blustery but the last few days have been absolutely arctic with temperatures hitting 30+ degrees below zero with the wind chill.  According to a few articles I’ve been reading, this has been one of the coldest Artic outbreaks in two decades for Midwest, South and East Coast.  These cold temperatures have been brutal for animals that do not live in homes and there have been cries across Facebook and other social media sites in an effort to rally to help provide sufficient shelter, warmth and care for those animals whose owners cannot afford or are unwilling to bring their animals into their homes – even for a few days while this winter anomaly runs its course.

We have been, of course, stuck in the house predominantly.  The dogs have been miserable being unable to be outside and actually doing things.  Their frustration is almost tangible – especially when they are racing back to the house bouncing from foot to foot from frigid snow balls between their pads because of the unbearable temperatures causing the normally minor annoyance to become acutely painful.  They’ve been limited to treadmill time and basic and trick training in the house for the last week and we’re all counting down the time until this frigid weather breaks – hopefully in time for the snow pull this weekend!

If you’re stuck inside like I am, there are many, many things you can do to keep yourself and your dogs entertained without venturing out into the cold.  Here are a few examples:

  • Frozen Kongs – Use your favorite Kong recipes and then toss them in the freezer until frozen solid.  For many dogs, this will allow them time to work them out.  The quicker thinking the dog, the more complicated the layering in the Kong should be.
  • Puzzle Toys – Nina Ottosson makes some absolutely AMAZING puzzle toys but those aren’t the only variety out there.  The old standby of a Buster Cube is around as well as the Tug-A-Jug and other awesome, food dispensing toys.
  • Nosework GamesHiding food in boxes (shoe boxes, postal boxes recycled from the holidays, etc.) can get your pooch thinking and is a good ground breaking tool if you ever intend to get into K9 Nosework competitions.
  • Obedience Refresher – Work on basic obedience cues with nice, high value treats.  Keeping your dog on par with their commands means an easier to live with companion who isn’t a total pest when company comes to call.
  • Relationship Games – Play games like hide and seek that build and strengthen the bond between dog and owner.  These games also have a hidden capacity to reinforce good obedience and manners as well.

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