HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG ACTIVE DURING THE WINTER
Beat the cold without getting cabin fever. This winter, challenge yourself and your dog to try out a new activity. There are plenty of options for keeping your furry friend physically and mentally active during the colder months, which is crucial when it comes to preventing destructive behaviour caused by boredom, as well as avoiding packing on the pounds during the holiday season. If you aren’t fond of heading outdoors during the rain and snow, consider joining a club or simply getting creative in your own home. Regardless of the activity you choose, you’ll enjoy the time you spend bonding with your dog rather than feeling cooped up indoors.
JOIN A DOG SPORTS CLUB
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to keeping your dog active during the winter, we recommend looking for dog sports clubs in your area. Many clubs operate throughout the year, often taking advantage of indoor facilities when the weather gets too chilly to be outside. Agility is a fun choice for keeping your dog occupied both physically and mentally. With plenty of obstacles to tackle, there’s endless potential to entertain your dog through agility training. You can also consider joining your local dog protection sports association. Dog-handler duos compete against the sport itself, working through a series of increasingly difficult levels. Best of all, there’s a great deal of camaraderie in protection sports, so you can expect to enjoy it as much as your dog will.
SIGN UP FOR AN OBEDIENCE CLASS
If you’re not quite ready for the demands of agility and protection sports, starting off with obedience training is a great alternative. Signing up for an obedience class will benefit both yourself and your dog regardless of the time of year, but winter is the perfect opportunity to enroll if you haven’t already. You can choose from one-on-one dog training lessons, or participate in a group class. Getting out of the house to socialize and learn new skills will keep your dog happy and healthy, whether you’re working on beginner, intermediate, or advanced training methods. Even after spring comes around, you’ll continue to benefit from your dog’s good behaviour, making obedience classes a great investment.
PLAY GAMES INSIDE YOUR HOME
It’s not always feasible to leave your house during extreme weather, which is why we suggest having some indoor games in your repertoire that you can play within the comfort of your home. The amount of space you have will dictate the types of activities you can set up, but even the tightest spaces can accommodate fun and games if you get creative. Our favourite indoor activities for dogs include playing hide and seek, tug of war, and fetch. Climbing stairs is also an excellent way to increase your heart rate, as well as your dog’s. Your whole family can get involved in most games, so take advantage of the opportunity to involve your kids and keep them active too.
TRY OUT DOG SWIMMING OR TREADMILLS
Some areas now offer dedicated swimming pools for dogs, or at least scheduled periods when dogs are permitted. Research has demonstrated that swimming is great for your dog’s health given that it may be a gentler alternative to running on solid land. The density of water gives your dog a full body workout, while its fluidity and buoyancy reduce. the amount of stress that’s put on their joints, making it a safer option for dogs that are older or suffering from health issues. Similarly, you can exercise your dog by purchasing a specialized pet treadmill. We recommend doing your research on the best models and practices, then starting off slowly to avoid injury. If you can incorporate a treadmill into your dog’s activity, the investment will continue to pay off for years to come in terms of their health and veterinary expenses.
BRAVE THE COLD (SAFELY)
Even the darkest, coldest days often have sunny breaks. Take advantage of times when the weather is milder to switch up your routine and get outdoors. Just like you would do for yourself or your children, you can bundle up your dog with booties, sweaters, and jackets. Dogs love playing in the snow, so head out to a grass or dirt field. It’s important to avoid icy areas or places where sharp objects might be lurking beneath the snow, especially if your dog is running off-leash. After you’re finished with your time outdoors, you should take extra precautions to clean off your dog. Wash and towel dry your pet’s paws and stomach to get rid of salt and harmful deicing chemicals. While you may be tempted to shave your dog or give them a short haircut to avoid snow build up on their coat, it should be avoided during the winter months. After all, keeping your dog warm and dry is the best approach for their health.
COLD NOSE, WARM HEART
We hope you’ve learned a new trick or two to keep yourself and your dog entertained this winter, even when the worst weather hits. You’ll both benefit from staying active physically and mentally, plus it’s the ideal time to try out a new activity you can continue throughout the rest of the year. If you have more tips for keeping your dog healthy during the colder months, we would love to hear them. Leave a comment for us below!
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