Negative wind chills may be par for the course here in Chicagoland during the winter, but that fact doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. While you may be dreaming of warmer days while snuggling under a blanket on your couch, your dog may be exhibiting some less than stellar behaviors simply because he is stir crazy with boredom. Staying indoors more than usual isn’t necessarily cozy for your dog – he wants to be out and about – sniffing and exploring, running and zooming – and burning his natural energy.

Whether you have a winter loving dog or not, chances are high that you aren’t getting outdoors as much as your dog’s energy needs. Trust us, your dog needs to burn off his energy productively or eventually something is going to get eaten that shouldn’t be, chewed up that shouldn’t be, or destroyed that shouldn’t be. Maybe you can relate?

The nice thing about your dog in the winter is that he doesn’t necessarily need hours upon hours outdoors to keep him from having cabin fever. With just a bit of planning, you can keep your dog mentally stimulated when physical exercise just isn’t going to happen. Here are just a few ideas to get you going.

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog mentally exercised. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels so you’re sure to find one your dog loves! You can even use a treat dispensing puzzle toy to making meal times a game!

Scavenger Hunts

Treat your pup to a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt! If it’s warm enough for some outside time, use your fenced-in backyard and hide your dogs favorite treats around the yard! If it’s too cold for outside time, take the fun inside and hide those treats around your house for your pup to discover!


At DTN, Trainer Chris encourages a good game of tug to get some of the pent up energy out with your furry best friend! It is a myth that tug will make your dog aggressive. Contrary to those beliefs, when played correctly tug is actually a great game to strengthen the bond with your dog and incorporate into your routine! It’s a fun way to teach as well, including things like drop it, leave it, take it, and the important ‘Enough’ command that teaches your dog when to stop and settle. We are big fans of making training fun, if it is not fun, neither you or your dog will want to continue doing it. Playing tug is a good way to inject some fun into your routine!

Give your Dog a Dog Training Now Day

When the weather is too cold (or it’s too dark) to hit the streets, remember that obedience practice and training is a wonderful way for stir crazy dogs to work, burn energy, and feel content. You can practice at home or bring your pooch in to our studio for a day full of socialization, training, and fun.

For new clients, our Day Training Camp option is ideal if you are looking for a winter activity for your dog that packs in a full day of activities. Dogs get a day full of command brush up, obedience practice with plenty of distractions, and walks that work on exercise, leash manners, and socialization. While we think our day training program is outstanding any time of the year, it can be especially helpful to you and your dog during the cold winter months.

For graduates, remember that we always offer daily enrollment in the Graduate Training Academy!  Daily refresher training to bust that cabin fever!