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Enrichment Activities to Help Your Dog Beat the Winter Blues

Winter months in the Midwest can mean sub-zero temperatures and snow days stuck inside. Being stuck inside all day isn’t good for us or our canine friends.

Dogs get bored just like us, but a lack of proper enrichment can lead to anxiety and destructive behaviors. Luckily, there are plenty of inexpensive (and DIY) enrichment activities that can liven up even the dreariest winter day.

Linked below are five of our favorite enrichment activities to keep your pup entertained indoors when it’s too cold or snowy to get out for a walk. 

#1 - Snuffle Mats

Snuffle mats look like a shag carpet straight out of the 1970s, but they are designed to

exercise your pup’s mind. Dogs rely on their sense of smell to understand the world around them. In fact, dogs have more than 100 million sensory receptor sites in the nasal cavity, compared to a measly 6 million in humans.

Snuffle mats are meant to encourage a dog’s natural foraging instincts and serve as a mentally stimulating activity. Some trainers claim that just 15 minutes with a snuffle mat can burn as much energy as an hour of walking.

#2 - Puzzles

Puzzle toys are a popular enrichment activity. With tons of different options available, you can keep a variety of puzzles on hand and keep your pup guessing. Whether your dog is a chewer, sniffer, digger, or a combination, there’s a puzzle toy to meet her needs. 

#3 - Licking Mats

Licking mats are a popular dog enrichment tool. They don’t take up much space, they’re inexpensive, and they boast numerous benefits. They feature a textured surface that can hold any “spreadable” food in place. Not only do they encourage slower eating habits, but they support good dental health. Additionally, licking releases dopamine in your dog’s brain, which can help him calm down in stressful situations. 

#4 - Training Time

Now is a great time to brush up on your dog’s skills! Set aside 15 minutes to work on a new skill or practice a trick or two you haven’t worked on in a while. Many dogs struggle with walking politely on a leash. Practicing loose leash walking skills indoors during the winter months is a great way to help your dog get ready for outdoor walks come springtime. Indoor environments are generally much less distracting than outdoor environments, so take advantage of being cooped up inside to help your dog master an important skill!

Need help getting started? Find loose-leash walking resources at the Animal Humane Society.

#5 - DIY Enrichment Activities 

Although many dog enrichment options are available to purchase, you probably have

everything you need at home already. If you’re more of the DIY type, you can find plenty of inspiration on the ASPCA website!

Additional Sources



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