Thursday, January 8, 2015

Single Digits ?!?!? Cabin fever!

It's cold. Really, really really cold. So cold that Nicki gets perilously close to getting frostbitten paws when she's out to do her business. I've tried putting her boots on, but she seems to be in rebellion this year. Maybe they're just too stiff in this overwhelming cold. For whatever reason, the poor girl often does what she's gotta do while trying to hold at least one paw up during the process. Quite the achievement, I must say!

We're also bored off our gourds. I haven't been up to snuff lately, and I admit to being a Cold Weather Wuss at any rate. A walk in temps well below freezing is never going to be my idea of fun! Nicki would be willing, but I'd wind up carrying her home after a half block! I know this because we did it last year. It was that experience, repeated a few times, that drove me to try to get boots for her. Since commercially made boots didn't fit, I played around with making a pair. That went pretty well! She liked them enough that they wore out! We need to experiment with other materials this year....

But in the meantime, we have some serious cabin fever and limited outlets for healthy puppy play. Nicki doesn't play with toys, unless they contain food. Obviously I can't give her food toys constantly, so I've been trying to come up with other activities. Some days we drive to Petco or PetSmart just to be able to walk around! I buy something, of course, but I walk Nicki up and around every aisle in the store! She gets to smell different things, get out of the house, and get a little physical exercise.

Just as Nicki never learned to play with toys, she also doesn't really know how to play with people - or other dogs. This poor girl must have had a lonely puppyhood...   I do try to run around the house with her, but she clearly doesn't see the point, and soon loses interest. Imagine; I'm willing to run around longer than my dog is!

So - we're trying a bit more training. Some reinforcement, to be sure, but also maybe a few new tricks. Maybe we'll try to harness that "Aussie crawl" on command!

And in the meantime, the game is afoot! I have taken to making every meal a hunt or a different food toy of some sort. Frozen kongs, a giant wobbly kong, a dispensing ball, a dispensing knobbly ball ... and tonight, a scavenger hunt. I closed Nicki in the kitchen and hid her entire dinner a few bits at a time throughout two main rooms. It kept her busy, gave her nose work to do, and kept her moving! It took her about 15 minutes to find everything. She kept looking for more after she'd found what I'd hidden, so there was even some residual exercise!

It's a challenge to keep a dog with limited responses busy and engaged while cooped up. Nonetheless, we're on it! If any of you have suggestions, we'd love to hear them!

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