The cold months are admittedly a slower time for a lot of animal behavior professionals. Some of this has to do with the holidays. A lot of it is due to people simply not being as active with their animals outdoors, so many behavior concerns are not at the forefront of their minds during this time of the year. With that lessening of outdoor activity comes "cabin fever" for a lot of animals. This can present as problem behaviors that are rooted in boredom. We so often get questions about how to keep animals entertained during this time of year.
One really easy way to encourage your pet to burn energy and keep themselves entertained is to have them work for their meals. So often animals are fed meals out of a bowl, and that is simply a lost opportunity to give them something constructive to do. While there are many amazing store-bought puzzle toys/feeders, they're not necessary! There are many ways to create the same experience with items around the house. Check out our blog post titled, "Coloring Books" for more information.
For dogs, going for long walks in freezing temps is typically not a good time for the human end of the leash. Encouraging dogs to sniff as much as they want during a walk is a way to work smarter not harder because we are incorporating mental enrichment, which burns four times the amount of energy that physical exercise does! This means that we don't need to go on walks that last forever in order to burn energy via physical exertion (which is the more inefficient way to burn energy and builds endurance, which can be problematic long-term). I frequently encourage sniffing by dropping treats or kibble into snow so that the dog has to go on a mini scavenger hunt for them.
For more tips on beating the winter blues, please don't hesitate to reach out!