I like winter, but it can be tough. Between frigid temperatures, crazy winds and multiple stomach flus, it seems like we’ve been stuck inside for months. And unfortunately, the family member it’s hardest on is Ruby, our four-year-old goldendoodle. Sometimes… most times… there’s just no time/energy/space left for her after the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of two small children all day, especially when they’re sick, and when it’s too cold to take the kids out for a walk, well, that means Ruby doesn’t get a walk either. Poor Ruby!
Luckily for all of us, she’s a pretty lazy dog who sleeps most of the day, haha, but as a goldendoodle, she’s also a very needy, attention-driven pup, who loves to play, loves to run, and loves, loves, loves to be with us more than anything. Ruby is well-behaved most of the time, but like all dogs, when she gets overly bored she acts up. She barks too much, starts stealing food off the counter, and can be almost aggressively needy — poking at us, trying to be way too close, demanding pets. When she starts being bad, it ends up annoying everyone and making us push her away and ignore her (so we don’t reward her bad behavior)… which becomes an ugly cycle of negativity that makes me feel horrible.
As Winter drags into cold, wet, slushy Spring, we’re thinking of ways that we can help Ruby get through these final rough weeks until we can start spending more time outside as a family. The best indoor way to keep Ruby occupied, stimulated and feeling loved is with toys and treats, so I used SparkysSpots.com’ research to find some of the most durable chew toys for aggressive chewers like her, along with some of our own tried-and-true favorites.
1. West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Durable Dog Bone — Sparky’s Spots rated this a 9/10, and it looks like a toy that Ruby would really enjoy chewing and chasing. Bonus: this one is good for floating so it would be fun for weekends at our lake cabin this summer!
2. West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Toy — 10/10 on Sparky’s Spots — since Ruby is a super smarty who loves a good challenge, this looks like a toy she would really enjoy and could keep her entertained for a while. I also love a toy that helps to increase her confidence by giving her a job to accomplish.
3. Jolly Pets Romp-n-Roll Ball — 9/10 on Sparky’s Spots — I like that this is a ball and a rope, to make it a little more interesting. Honestly, we often avoid buying any sort of ball toy for Ruby because she becomes super obsessed. Anyone else have a dog who is CRAZY about balls? She just can’t let them go. But this one has great reviews, and we know for sure she’d love it.
4. KONG Extreme Dog Toy — 10/10 and “best overall” on Sparky’s Spots — the KONG is a no-brainer, great thing to have on hand, especially to fill with peanut butter and treats. I didn’t know there was an “Extreme” version of this classic toy that would be better for a strong chewer.
5.Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball — this is our own recommendation that we’ve had for a long time. Ruby loves to chase this ball around the room as it drops treats. It drives Andy crazy because it makes a mess as treats fall under the furniture and deep into corners, so we don’t do it very often… But that’s what the Roomba is for, right? She does like to chew it, though, and it’s not a durable chew toy.
6.Good Lovin’ Peanut Butter Flavored Rawhide Rolls — Ruby looooves peanut butter. She will literally steal a peanut butter sandwich right out of your mouth. Yes, she’s done it (sorry, kiddos). I can’t stand the smell of a normal rawhide bone, but I don’t mind when Ruby chews these, and they last her a nice long time.
7. Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Puzzle — we already have and love this puzzle toy. Ruby enjoys the challenge of using her nose and paws to search out treats, and I enjoy that this keeps her from bugging me for a while! You can make it more or less difficult depending on your dog’s skill level or how long you want to keep them busy. Sometimes I’ll put Ruby’s dinner in it, or even pieces of turkey sandwich left over from lunch!
8. Rope Toy — Ruby’s favorite toy is a rope. Every night as soon as the kids are in bed and Andy and I settle on the couch, Ruby brings her rope to us for a game of tug. It’s haaaard to find the energy at that point in the day, but I know it’s important to Ruby so we do our best. While playing tug, Ruby gets that undivided attention she craves and she uses a good amount of energy. Even if we only play for a few minutes, she always falls fast asleep afterwards! We have this basic rope toy from Target. It won’t last forever, but it’s lasted a couple of months so far and has plenty of life left, which is great for just $7.
9. Friendship Collar & Bracelet Set — Because the best part of this time of year is that we do end up having some gorgeous days mixed in with the gross ones, what’s better than a fresh new, super cute collar! Even better if you can have a matching bracelet. What a perfect way to celebrate being best friends with your pup!!! Even better, these are from local Lakewood, Ohio, store Milo & Me!
What strategies are you using to keep your dog busy through the end of winter? Do you have any tips and tricks for when you just can’t get outside to walk and play? Let us know in the comments!