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Combatting Canine Cabin Fever

Author: Erin Schneider | Date: January 30, 2012

I love walking my dog… in nice weather. Living in Chicago in the winter makes me dread going outside at all, let alone for long walks. However, my Westie, Bailey, could stay out in the cold for quite a long time. She lives for the winter. She especially loves the snow. So to keep me from freezing and keep her healthy and happy, I have to get creative about exercising her in the winter months.

Below are some suggestions on how to exercise your dog, while minimizing your exposure to the cold.

  • Take your dog for more frequent, shorter walks. In the warmer months we enjoy long, leisurely walks with our dogs. In the winter, it’s not so much fun. I recommend getting in two to three 10-15 minute walks a day.
  • Visit your local park. My dog loves the cold and snow so I take advantage of her favorite time of year and take her to the park. I put on an extra layer and put her on a long line and let her run around for 5-10 minutes. It does wonders for her cabin fever to get rid of some of that that pent-up energy.
  • Enroll your dog into agility, K-9 Nosework, or other indoor classes that allow your dog to exercise their brain and their body.
  • Hire professionals to exercise your dog. Living in and near such a big city as Chicago allows access to plenty of services to exercise your dog. Below are some of my favorites.
    • Hire a dog walker: If you already have a walker come, maybe ask them to come twice a day or a couple more times a week.
    • Chicago Dog Runner: If your dog is old enough and enjoys running, this is a great service.
    • Nature Dog: This service will come to your house, pick up your dog, and take them to a fenced-in nature preserve. They will even wash your dog before returning them to your house.
  • Play games at home that will stimulate your dog. When my dog is especially bored, she enjoys a game of “Find It.” Below are directions on how to play the game. It’s very easy and your dog will love it:
    • Throw a treat on the floor and say, “find it!” As soon as your pup finds it, act like they are the smartest dog that ever lived. You can start making it a little more challenging by hiding the treat next to a chair or table leg. Say “find it” and keep encouraging them to use their nose to look around for the treats. At first you might have to point the treat out, but with practice they will get better and better at finding the treats. Before long you will be able to hide treats or their kibble around the room or house. This gives them a job and metal stimulation, which is really good for them.

As always, try to find things to do that are fun for both you and your dog. Dogs get cabin fever just like us, so bundle up and get out there and enjoy the winter with your dog!


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