Tips, Tricks & Tutorials

Three tips to keep your dog busy this Iowa winter

HOW WE SURVIVED THE POLAR-VORTEX

Iowa’s record setting low temperatures and snow the last few weeks mean we have spent more than a few days confined to the house. So far, Elsie’s managed to chew up one dog-collar, two slippers and the contents of every wastebasket in the house. Rawhide bones last all of 20 minutes and I can’t get her to sit in front of the TV for the afternoon like most children on snow days, here are four tips we used to keep keep her entertained while it was too dangerous to play in the snow.

I. Play with your food.

When Elsie was a puppy, our vet recommended taking a handful of dog food and throwing it in the backyard as an effective way to kill an afternoon for a smart, food-motivated and antsy dog. This can easily be adapted for the cold weather by sprinkling their food throughout the house.

While with this method you will randomly be crushing kibbles under your feet for the next day or so, there are also toys available that have the same affect.

Such as this:

Our Pets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy
(click to go to Amazon link)

Or this:

StarMark’s Bob-A-Lot Interactive Toy
(click to go to Amazon link)

But our favorite is the the Midjiim Mover, from Gimiwan Goodies. This was created by our family-friend Gail, a dietician in upper Michigan who started her own line of healthy, locally sourced dog treats.

The Midjiim Mover
(Click to go to link)

The Midjiim mover is a simple piece of PVC with a hole in the side and two caps on the end. When filled with kibble, your dog can roll it around on the floor to get a kibble out of the hole in the side of the toy. The hole is placed in the perfect spot making it tricky to get them out when rolling on the ground, but not to so difficult that the dog will give up.

The best part about the Midjiim Mover is that while I won’t say it’s indestructible, I have yet to see the PVC destroyed by a dog trying to cheat the system.

II. Peanut Butter

Smear peanut butter on a dog toy such as inside a rubber kong toy or a hollowed out bone, or a heavily textured frisby or ball. You could even just give them the almost empty peanut butter jar and watch them work for an hour trying to get their nose in far enough to clean the bottom of the jar.

Always make sure your peanut butter doesn’t contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs. We only use natural peanut butters that only contain peanuts and sometimes an oil.

III. Hide and Seek

If your dog has a favorite toy or bone, show them the toy, let them sniff it and get excited with them. Then put them in a different room while you hide the toy. Let them back in the room and they will most likely go crazy trying to hunt for it.

Just don’t hide the toy in anything that might be knocked over, chewed through or dug up while on the hunt, such as in a flower pot or underneath couch cushions.

This is also a perfect opportunity to practice sit and stays, or down and stays. Command them to sit in another room while you hide the toy. You could also try having them sit and stay until the coldsnap breaks. Let us know how that goes.

1 thought on “Three tips to keep your dog busy this Iowa winter”

  1. Great ideas! Food puzzle toys are one of our favorite ways to beat the winter boredom. We have several food balls, but we haven’t tried something like the Midjiim Mover yet. Might be time to add a new toy to the line-up. Thanks for the suggestions.

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