During the cold winter months we need to find ways to keep our dogs busy and happy.
Because most dogs are not able to spend inordinate amounts of time outside, it is critical that we find them things to do inside that will keep them exercised and their minds busy.
Patchs loves to go outside and run in the snow, but after a short time she gets cold and want to go back inside. But once she’s back inside she wants to play with her toys to burn off some of the energy she still has pent up inside. We play tug-o-war, toss a tennis ball and she has a Nyla-Bone that she likes to chew on.

Patchs tossing her toy in the air and catching it

We often play for 10-15 minutes, then take a short break, then we play some more. This  requires 30 minutes of my time 3-4 times a day. Because I work from home, I can afford to spend this kind of time.
In the past month or so I have found a way to burn off energy a bit faster and she seems to feel better about it too. We have started playing “mind games” …
One of these games uses 4 small yogurts cups with a hole in the bottom of each cup. I place these cups in plain view and I place a small piece of treat under one of the cups. When she comes in the house I tell her to “find the treat”. At first she would just knock over all of the cups in order to find the treat, but after working with her, she now sniffs the hole in each cup and only tips the cup that has the treat. When re-setting the cups, I remove her from the room. We do this exersize 4-5 times after every trip outside.
Another game she likes is to take “special kibble” (not her normal food) and I toss a piece and tell her “find it” … While she is going for it, I toss another one in a different area of the room. After she finds the first piece, I tell her “good girl” and I point the other way and say “find it” again. The kibble is about the same color as my carpet so she has to use her nose. Sometimes I toss it under something so she has to work to get to it. This game usually lasts for about 10 minutes.
By the time evening comes, she is usually ready to settle down and take a nap. These games are also helping with her level of concentration, her attention span is getting longer and it is gets her to watch and listen to me better.
What kind of games do you play with your dog?