We’ve all seen this meme or at least had this thought more than once this winter. Why am I living where the air hurts my face? We put in a whole-house humidifier last year with the new furnace and last night it got all the way up to 27% humidity. That’s crazy. The good news is that if I am ever stranded I can write a goodbye note to my dog on my leg. Please make sure to read it to him.

Remember that annoying song that is now going to be stuck in your brain all day? You’re welcome. “This is the song that never ends.” Let’s change the words to snow. My new Wisconsin theme song. This is the snow that never ends.

And then there’s the cold. It’s just not letting up and Coconut is just as tired of this weather as I am and I bet your dog is, too.

Cabin fever is very, very real for you and your dog.

Dogs are meant to run and play and tussle and explore all the wonderful outdoor smells, to meet new dogs and people. With a high of 5 degrees today, and that’s kind of a heat wave compared to other spells this winter, outdoor walks aren’t fun or safe.

I consider Coconut a very good dog to be with during a few days of cabin fever. But even my little pooch has shown me that enough is enough. Pent-up energy may result in destructive and negative behaviors. Coconut races back and forth trying to balance on the window sill to look outside and bark. Every sound of a shovel scraping ice or a car starting is a reason for him to bark. He’s bored. It hasn’t happened to us because we take advantage of daycare to get him socialization and exercise, but bored dogs may exhibit unusual vocalizing (barking, howling, whining), have indoor accidents, scratch at doors, and/or nibble furniture, carpet, or shoes.
So how can you give your dog what he craves without endangering either of you?

Get Outdoors

Even five minutes of running in the yard or going for a brisk walk around the block might be enough to satisfy your little pup. Dress in layers, cover your extremities and take precautions to not leave your dog out too long. Don’t let him near antifreeze puddles and always wash their feet when the sidewalks and streets have been salted.

Puzzle Toys

Visit your pet store or online shopping options and look for mentally and physically interactive toys to engage your dog. Invest in a puzzle toy or two to keep your dog’s mind occupied. Puzzle toys work by challenging the dog’s problem-solving skills. The toy rewards the dog with a treat when he figures out the puzzle. You can also engage your dog old school style by running up and down your staircase, playing keep away, tug-o-war and similar games

The Nose Knows

Hiding treats behind curtains, behind doors, under cushions, or in the closet with the door slightly cracked might help break up long days stuck indoors. When he discovers a treat, praise him. After a few of these sessions, he will get the idea. You can then start hiding treats in other rooms, and he will stay busy hunting them down.

Food Toys

Kong Toys filled with peanut butter, soft cheese, or other food items keeps dogs busy as they work on removing the food with their tongue. Dogs can spend an hour working on a Kong as they try to capture every morsel of food.

New Tricks

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never tried to train my dog to shake hands, walk on two legs, spin around or any number of fun tricks. Teaching him something new will mentally stimulate and exercise his mind which also tires him out. Popular and easy-to-learn tricks are shaking, rolling over, playing dead, and dancing. There are all kinds of how-to YouTube videos on training your dog and that might be just the thing during this hideous weather.

Recalculate Food Intake

If your dog is getting less exercise make sure to weigh him to see if he’s gaining weight. Recalculating food quantities might be a simple way to make your pet more interactive. Your dog is not too different from us when it comes to the wintertime blues. Less exercise and more food equal weight gain and less energy.

This winter has been a tough one for many reasons. But it won’t last forever! Start dreaming of all the things you can do with your dog to reward you both for surviving. Maybe a little doggy shirt: I survived the 2018-2019 winter.