Winter is in full swing and I bet your dogs are getting cabin fever. Even our small dogs get restless, as noted by Bowie digging to China when I let them out in the yard. Typically, dogs sleep about 14 hours a day ( I am so jealous ) , but they do need their exercise as well—even if it is only a walk or two each day. So, what can we do with our dogs in this weather? If you can believe it, there is such a thing as a treadmill for dogs. That is if you want to spend $1,000+ for one that can sit there with your dogs clothing piled on it next to the treadmill full of your clothing.
One thing you can do is find a doggy group that meets indoors. We belong to the Chicago Dachshund Lovers ( www.chicagodachshundlovers.com —for anyone who has dachshunds or dachshund mixes ) , and we meet once a month at various indoor doggy day care places. There is nothing like running around with 40-60 other little wieners to wear our two out. They are crashed for a couple of days after one of those meets. The bonus is that we have met some really great people there too. Groups like ours can be found on MeetUp.com or on Yahoo.
If the group thing is not for you or you just want to get your dog out of your hair and have him come back tired, you can send him to doggy day care a couple of days a week. Make sure the place you choose is a reputable one. Many will now even pick your dog up and bring him home at the end of the day and some have cameras going so you can log on to their Web site and see what your dog is up to all day. Be prepared to pay $30 or more a day. Having small dogs, I would also want to make sure that the small dogs are separated from the large dogs.
In the house you can also spend a little time playing fetch. I know it is the last thing you want to do at the end of your day but I find that if I throw a toy down the hallway say, oh, 8,578,435,435 times, I then get to sit on the couch and watch TV for a while undisturbed.
Mental stimulation can also help to tire out your dog. Do some training, play hide and seek using a treat or toy or use interactive toys where your dog has to figure out how to release a treat.
When the temperature hits the 30s again force yourself to get out there and take a walk with your dog. And remember, in just five months or so we will be getting our summer version of cabin fever!
—Thurs., Jan. 31: 7-9:30pm. Red/White, A wine tasting benefit for Red Dog Animal Shelter. $35 per person, reservations required. Fine Wine Brokers, 4621 N. Lincoln; www.reddoorshelter.org
—Sat., Feb. 2: 11-4pm, Valentine Open House, Harmony House for Cats
3809 N. Kedzie, free; www.hhforcats.org