Five Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy During Winter Break

Photo: @gusgusinthecity

For some, ‘tis Winter Break, the wonderful, wide-open week between Christmas and New Year’s. The breather at the end of the happy — and often hectic — howliday season. While we decked halls, made lists, shopped, ran, wrapped, and celebrated, our furry pals, toys in mouths, watched us hurry and scurry on by, patting them on the head as we hustled out the door, promising a walk, a game of fetch, a snuggle…later!

Bored Dog 15

Tyson: Sigh. Mimi: Sigh. Tyson: I already said that. Mimi: Ditto.

Well, folks, now is later, and whether you’re packing in the activities or enjoying well-deserved R&R, your pup still needs attention and stimulation. We’ve got five easy ways to keep your four-legged bestie from being bored to tears — or tearing, as in sofas and shoes. (Been there — or been gone — and witnessed the aftermath.)

1. Bestow mental mojo: Nothing like keeping them in the zone with a new plaything or treat! If they didn’t get one in their stocking, pick up a toy to keep ‘em puzzling, or grab a long-lasting elk antler, marrow bone, or bully stick. Got batteries — and budget? Invest in the hands-free iFetch, the automatic ball launcher. (Might be best to use while you’re home, though!)

2. Enlist the young ‘uns: The kids are off, and whether they’re snoozing till noon or bouncing on your bed at dawn, you’ve got allies! Arm them with a handful of treats and have them teach the pooch a new trick. Or suggest a game of “Find It,” the fun canine version of hide-and-seek in which you (or your minions) hide treats all around the house, and then your super sniffer goes on a search-and-rescue mission. Even if your pup has never played, we predict they’ll learn quickly!

3. Swap a playdate: Host a friend’s dog for an hour today, ship yours off for an hour tomorrow. Two tired dogs plus bonus (guilt-)free time for you! 

4. Delight ’em with daycare: From general playtime to extra training, these fur-bulous facilities provide safe, loving options for gentle fun ‘n games or WEARING THEM OUT! Call ahead, though — especially if you’re a newbie!

5. Sniff out a field trip: Go dogs go! Check out hikes that are a little farther than you’d normally venture, but don’t require overnight lodging. Or stay closer to home but ditch the old standbys and explore the sights and scents of new-to-you dog parkstrails, or even apple orchards (some are open year-round!).

And for when you’ve still gotta go and get a few things done — or they’re glued to your side? Bring ‘em along! We’ve got tons of dog-friendly businesses in our directory, and they’ll welcome your (well-behaved) pup to come on in and sniff around while you TCB. The bottom line: When time off includes time to play with, tire out, and love up your pup, we say that makes the break!  

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