The question is, how do you make sure your dog gets enough exercise this winter? Our recommendations:
1. Get Out When You Can
When you’re dressed for the weather, getting out in the winter can be incredibly invigorating. Make sure your dog is also dressed properly! Some breeds (malamutes, huskies) have high cold tolerance, while others (pits, beagles, greyhounds, some terriers) are shivering two minutes into a walk. Protect them with coats or sweaters and dog booties.
Note: If they shiver excessively or appear to lose coordination or act confused, bring them inside immediately and get them dried off.
Walk (or run or hike) during the warmest parts of the day. Watch the forecast so you’ll know, but typically this is not first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. If you do get a mild evening, be sure to put reflective clothing on both of you!
It’s a good idea to schedule a wellness checkup for your dog before winter. Your vet can assess their health and make sound recommendations in terms of cold tolerance and winter exercise.
2. Turn Meal Times Into Workout Sessions
Mental stimulation is as tiring (in a good way) as physical exercise. When it’s too cold, icy, rainy, or snowy to venture out, make your pup work for his meals. Try a puzzle dish, treat ball, or Kong toy. They’ll have to problem solve to get their kibble, and they’ll get some physical activity (such as chasing the trick ball and batting it around) as they work.
Another fun idea: play hide and seek with their food or treats so they have to hunt for it. This is great when you are at work. They can search around for their bone or filled Kong.
3. Do Some Training
Bad Weather? Good Dog! When you can’t hit the trails or sidewalks, use exercise time to teach your pooch some tricks. If they don’t have the basics down, practice Sit, Stay, Down, and walking properly on a leash.
You can also tackle more advanced “tricks.” For example, try targeting. This is when you teach your dog to touch his nose to the back of your hand. It gives him a target for his attention. It’ll engage him mentally and encourage some physical activity. It also gives you a great tool in your dog owner toolbox: if you’re walking and he’s pulling to chase a squirrel, you can use targeting to bring his attention back to you.
4. Try an Indoor Class
You can find classes that focus on training, agility, and even canine swimming! These are great opportunities to ensure your dog gets the physical activity he needs - and he’ll also get some critical socializing time. Either way, he’s going to be a tuckered pup later!
5. Treat Him to a Day at the Dog Daycare
Whether you have to work a long day or just need some time to tackle some home-based projects, bringing your dog to daycare offers a number of benefits. He’ll be able to run and play with his canine buddies and get lots of healthy socialization. When you choose a terrific daycare, they will also help out with training, so he doesn’t learn or perpetuate bad habits (and bring them home to you!).
If you have any questions about your dog’s health through the winter, schedule a wellness appointment with Avery Creek Pet Hospital. We are here to help keep pets healthy and their owners happy.
We also want to know: What are you going to do to make sure your dog stays fit this winter?