(DOGS) When the cold temperatures hit, the snow covers the ground, and the ice makes the sidewalks a slippery ice rink, you’ll probably want to find some fun indoor activities for your dog to engage in.

Your dog’s exercise and activity needs will largely depend on factors like his/her age, breed, overall health, and size, but it’s safe to say that your four-legged bundle of joy should get between half an hour to 120 minutes of activity each day. And when the cold weather season makes it hard to get outside regularly enough to keep you dog in tip-top shape, you’ll need to find another way.

Read on for a look at some fun indoor activities with dogs during the winter so that man’s best friend can maintain optimal health even when the temperature keeps you and your pet inside.

All dogs–no matter how big or small–need to stay mentally stimulated and physically active, regardless of the weather conditions outside. Photo Credit: via Shutterstock

Muffin Tin Game

For this fun activity, you’ll need a few items, namely a muffin tin that has six or 12 compartments, enough tennis balls to fill the compartments, and enough treats to put a small piece in each compartment.

With all three components, here’s what you’ll do: Put a tasty treat — some cheese or some meat — into the various compartments in the muffin tin, place a tennis ball over top each of the various compartments, and then place the muffin tin on the floor where it’s accessible to your dog.

Your dog will quickly figure out that there are treats to be had and they will endeavor to remove the balls to get at the treats. Every time your dog dislodges one of the balls and retrieves a treat, be sure to lay on the praise. You might need to demonstrate how the game is played by occasionally removing a ball so that your dog gets the idea.

Freeze Dog Toys with Treats

When you can combine your dog’s favorite toys with his/her favorite treats, you’ll have a winning proposition. For this fun indoor winter activity, you’ll take a toy, put some tasty treats inside, freeze the toy-treats combo, and then give it to your dog so that they can seek to extract the treats.

Regular activity is necessary for your dog’s health, so you shouldn’t let the cold weather discourage you from giving your pet the exercise he/she needs. If you keep on top of your dog’s overall health needs, you’ll increase the chances that they will enjoy a long and healthy life.

Hide & Seek

This definitely isn’t the sort of hide-and-seek you might play with your children. When playing hide and seek with your dog, you can hide dry dog treats around your home so that your pet can go searching for them.

While you want to hide them where your dog can get to them, you also want to make it a challenge to engage its interest. It’s best not to hide these treats anywhere near your sofa, coffee table, or anything else that you don’t want to see pawed and clawed.

Tug-of-war is a tried-and-true game for all dogs, whether it’s played indoors or outdoors. Photo Credit: via Shutterstock

Tug-of-War Challenge

For this fun activity that is sure to get your dog panting, all you need is an open space — such as your basement, a hallway, or even the family room — and an old towel or just about any dog toy. You’ll hold onto one end of the towel or toy and your dog will grab onto the other end with its teeth. Then, it’s a good old fashioned tug of war.

Definitely be careful not to pull hard enough since doing so can cause injury to its teeth, but you also need to remember that if you let your pet win, your dog might end up with the impression that there’s now a new alpha in the home.

— Amber Kingsley, exclusive to Global Animal

Amber Kingsley is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in her city of Santa Monica who has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach.

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