Cold, snow, ice and all that winter weather can surely put a damper on ensuring your dog gets the proper exercise. As you know, exercise is the key to a happy and healthy dog.
Keeping your dog’s heart racing and mind working are important throughout the winter months. We all know how easy it is for us to put on the winter pounds, well it is no different for our dogs. They can easily pack on a few extra pounds in just a few short months.
On top of putting on extra weight, your dog can also get the winter blues. Yes your dog can get a bit depressed over the winter months, so we want to make sure to avoid that.
But how can exercising your dog in winter be done? Are there alternative things that you can do if it is too cold to go outside?
Just like us, if you run outside in the summer time, sometimes it can just be too cold to run outside. When it comes to our dogs running outside, that can also be a tough one. Yes it can be done when the weather is reasonable, but not when it hits the danger type of temperatures. Things like the windchill, can also affect your dog. If it is too cold for you to go outside and run then it is too cold for them also.
Normally what we do than is run inside on a treadmill. Well just in case you didn’t know, your dog can also run on the treadmill. A dog can very easily be taught to run on a treadmill. Practice, practice, practice. That is the best way to get your dog comfortable running on a treadmill.
Now they can run on a regular treadmill, or you can purchase a separate dog treadmill like a GoPet. The dog treadmill offers a few extra features that make it easier than a regular treadmill. Things like offer a spot to tie a dog leash to or dangle a treat down for them.
I trained both my dogs to go on the treadmill and to be honest, they really loved it. Just a bit of patience and you will have them doing cardio on the treadmill.
Dog daycare or training
Dog daycare offers choices when it comes to finding ways to exercise your dog when it is cold outside. Many dog day cares actually offer evening sessions at their facility much like a free run option. Of course you have to pay, but once in a while, it is a great option if needed.
By taking your dog to one of these sessions, it gives them the opportunity to run and play vigorously inside with other dogs. This will most certainly get them tired physically and mentally. When they interact with other dogs in a playful and fun environment it is extra taxing on them. This is great for you, as you will end up with a super tired dog when they are all done.
If you aren’t to keen on taking your dog to a daycare, what about trying out agility or some training dog classes. Our dogs can always benefit from more dog classes. Whether your dog is young or old, they are always up to learn something new or just refresh on something they already know.
Signing your dog up for classes also provides them with socializing in groups with other dogs. They really have to pay attention, focus and the ability to succeed in anything that we ask them to do.
Sometimes our dogs don’t just need physical exercise, it can be just as important to get them using their minds. You can spend the afternoon teaching your dog new tricks. Getting an interactive dog toy like the Wobble Wag Giggle ball, a PupPod or any type of puzzle toy. You could even opt for a hide a treat toy.
Cognitive thinking like trying to figure out how to get the treat out of the toy or any of these toys are great at making your dog focus on the job or activity rather than just running around. By focusing their energy on solving a puzzle or playing with an interactive toy will really tire your dog out.
Mental stimulation is sometimes even more tiring than physical exercise. Many dogs require activities to stimulate their brain almost like having a job to do. Certain breeds especially require that type of activity.
Head outside anyway
Yes it is cold outside, but honestly 75% of the time it is still not too cold to head outside with your dog. Depending on the type of dog that you have and how their hair is just remember that you need to keep them warm. They are susceptible to the cold just like we are.
The other big thing that is really important is to protect your dogs feet. Making sure your dog has a good pair of dog winter boots is must to your dog. If you don’t buy them boots or your dog won’t wear the boots, than you must make sure to remove the snow from between their paw pads after a walk or run. The snow or ice freezes in between the pads and it can be quite painful for your dog as well as can cut their paw pads.
When you come back inside please make sure to towel off your dog to remove any excess ice or snow off their back. They can get a chill from having wet hair just like we can. Warming them up slowly and ensure they are hydrated after being outside is important.
Stick to the plan
Although winter can seem like a long and tough journey some years, exercising your dog in winter is important. A dog that is happy, healthy and overall fit can also live a much longer life.
A dog that gets regular exercise, is a much happier dog. They relax easier and will tend to be a better behaved dog than one that is been couped up for days, weeks and even months.
Do not let your dog sit around all winter like a lazy dog, get them moving. It doesn’t take a dog long to get bored and forget the rules or boundaries you have set up. This boredom can lead to destructive behavior and or just not listening to you anymore.
There are more and more options popping up all over for you and your dogs to do. I have even heard of coffee shops and restaurants that are allowing dogs to come inside with you.
One of my favourite things to do with our boys in the winter was to head out in the truck for a drive and maybe a stop at the pet store for a new toy. Something as simple as taking them with you in the car or truck is a great way to break them of their winter rut. Any excursions are stimulating and a change of scenery for your dog.
Keep your dog busy and keep them moving.