Cold Hard Facts About Puppies
This past weekend was a rough one. It's absolutely freezing outside, there was a crazy ice storm, I have a nasty cold and I have an 8 month old puppy who is bored out of his mind.
Winter is a tough spot with puppies. While we want to walk them and work on leash skills, it's 7 degrees of nasty outside, so I sure do not want to do that. Although my puppy seems like he doesn't care how cold it is, I do. Trying to keep him entertained, we started with bones and running around the house. I even allowed a stick in the house to curb his boredom. But I truly felt bad for him - here I am laying on the couch, bundled in blankets and this giant baby is staring at me.
Then I found a box from Christmas in the garage and put a handful of kibble in it and closed it up. I gave it to him and let him go crazy. Was there cardboard everywhere? Yes! Did he find all the food? Yes! And did he do this for more than 40 minutes, again - YES. And then he did the greatest thing ever - HE PASSED OUT. It was like a toddler nap too. He was snoring and even when I walked away and went to another room, he kept sleeping. But why?
There are a few factors that come into play here - the enrichment of this activity may seem limited, but the sound the box made when he tossed it around intrigued him, and I am sure with his nose, he could smell the food inside. His brain worked so hard to decide to keep the box intact and keep playing - or annihilate the box and get to the food. I watched him negotiate what to do next. He took his time once he got the box ripped enough to find the food, then he dumped the food out and ate it. But when I thought that he was done, he took the box back to his blanket and tore it into tiny pieces. When the box was destroyed, he left it and went and fell asleep.
It doesn't take a lot to wear a puppy out! While walking is great (especially a sniffing walk), it is limited this time of year. Sometimes a great game of hide and seek, or a box full of newspaper and a handful of food, provides tons of fun for a puppy as well as works their brain. If you are struggling with a puppy who has more energy than you right now, search for some enrichment ideas - there are groups on Facebook dedicated to enrichment for dogs and books you can find online. But the best idea is to look around and see what you can come up with on your own. There are tons of ideas - put your dogs food and some treats in a rolled up towel and let him find it, create a puzzle box with toilet paper tubes and treats, or a game of hide and seek with your kids on a cold day is a super idea for both of them to play. A puppy in winter can be a little tougher, but get creative and it will go by a bit faster.
*Queso is an 8 month old German Shepherd who was a foster failure by yours truly! He was rescued by Bars to Beds rescue from a breeder release in Missouri. He was purchased at an auction. He loves long walks, tormenting kitty cats and hanging out at BrightDogs. ~~ Diana