[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Days are getting colder and shorter with less sunlight. For many of us and our little friends mood plummets, especially during winter; sudden changes to the weather can make dogs feel down.
Experts believe that this type of change in mood is similar to our common Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms include changes to dogs’ appetite and mood, but as dogs are not able to clearly vocalise their feelings, owners need to be observant and pay more attention.
Many dog owners report that an increase to their dogs behavioural changes during winter. Serotonin and Melatonin are closely related; sunlight exposure during the day increases Serotonin production, whilst the production of Melatonin is at its lowest. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects the ability to handle stress and aggressiveness. Melatonin on the other hand is a natural hormone that regulates various dog’s functions such as sleep, appetite and mood. Changes to sunlight can make dogs feel lethargic, look unhappy and disinterested.
Finding ways of keeping dogs active and busy during winter months is important to maintain dog’s health at a good level.
We have ten ideas on how to beat this winter boredom:
- Remember that taking your dog for a walk during daylight hours is necessary and should not be overlooked by the owners. Dogs love the outdoors and finding alternative walking routes can improve stimulation, as they are able to experience different smells and new sights.
- Combine walking with interactive games and activities, to keep your dog mentally and physically entertained. Sticks like the Tough Natural Toy (TNT) are a great method for exercising and bonding.
- Place your dog’s cushion under a skylight or close to a window. This can help maximise exposure to sunlight and provide warmth.
- Nutrition is equally important in improving your dog’s mood. Be careful with human leftover food and be reasonable with treats, owners usually report increased calorie intake during winter. We recommend using the Green Slow Feeder to slow down your dogs increased hunger, combine this with decreasing your dogs food intake by 10%. This way you can help your dog not gain weight over the winter months.
- Play the all time classic hide and seek with your dog by hiding some treats around the house. Boost your dog’s excitement using Coachies Training Treats which are oven baked to lock in nutrition and flavour and with no artificial colours, flavours or added sugars. These treats are packed with vitamins, minerals and calcium, making treat time healthy, they are preserved with antioxidants and plant extracts to help keep a healthy immune system.
- Use food dispensing toys such as the Foobler Electronic Timed Treat Puzzle Feeder to correct or just maintain your dog’s weight and improve activity.
- Invest in indoor dog training games for those cloudy days. Nina Ottosson’s Casino is a great game for dogs, during which the dog has to dislodge the removable bones and then pull open the sliding compartments to reveal hidden treats.
- Provide variety in toys and stimulation for your dog with a range of different toys.
- Use a clicker to train your dog learn new behaviours and obedience. Ideally combined with a clicker is the Hot and Cold game, where you help guide the dog to the required task by repeating the word “hot” when it gets near or “cold” when it moves away. Reward the dog for getting it right by tossing some treats.
- Start an agility course to allow your dog train and learn obedience. It can develop the dog’s skills to jump over obstacles and through hoops, among other course components. Many animal shelters offer agility-training programs for a fee and there are probably plenty or training opportunities in your area. Although some dogs take agility to the next level by competing, many classes cater to the novice canines, so don’t be overwhelmed by advanced obedience requirements some programs may have.