Exercising Your Dog In The Winter
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – But You’ve Still Gotta Exercise Your Dog!
Chances are, you have a love or hate relationship with the snowy months of December to March. You either wish you could transform into a bear and sleep away the cold, or you thrive in the great outdoors doing everything from skating and snowmobiling to winter hiking with your pup and watching ice sculpture competitions while making tandem snow angels. If you fall into the first category, it can be easy to spend as much time as possible indoors during the cold months. The fact remains, however, that it is still vital to your dog’s health that you provide them with enough exercise each day.
Generally, people walk their dogs for four reasons: elimination, mental stimulation, exercise, and training; and those reasons don’t change just because the weather does. Taking the dog for a walk also helps the two of you bond.
Tips For Exercising Dogs INDOORS In Wintertime:
1. Play a game with them
Dogs always get more excited when you are actively engaged with them rather than expecting them to create their own fun. Yes, they have toys to play with, but they are social animals and will almost always choose some fun time with their best friend over being told to go play alone in the corner. Games like fetch, hide and seek, and tug-of-war with his or her favourite toy are great ways to engage both your dog’s body and mind – and they can usually be done indoors or outdoors, if you’re a big winter baby like so many of us are.
2. Walking Indoors
With many dogs, if you get up and start to walk around the house – so will they. Why not take this opportunity to walk the dog indoors? Not to mention, this is a great way to ease your dog into exercise if they are older or have joint pain (for which you can ease with Canine 15 Natural).
If your dog is a big ball of energy that must be tamed, it’s also worth considering running them on a treadmill to burn off some of that liveliness.
3. Sign Them Up For an Indoor Class
Check out your local doggy daycare or indoor dog rec-centre to see if they offer indoor classes for the winter season. Many facilities offer a number of classes ranging from agility, flyball or swimming, to “doga”. (Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – Yoga for dogs!)
4. Take the stairs
Whether this is indoors or outdoors, walking your dog up and down the stairs is a little bit more active than simply walking about the living room or neighbourhood. You’ll get the added glute workout and Fido will use up more energy than your standard walk.
5. Play that Funky Music
You probably want to keep this workout restricted to indoors, unless you are a fan of your neighbours thinking that you’re nuts. Put on some music – you probably know a little bit about what your dog likes – and boogie woogie down with your dog. Try putting on a high-energy playlist (think high intensity aerobics without the spandex) and keep at it for at least 20 minutes. Your dog will be more than happy to flounce around the house with you, and it keeps you both from freezing your buns off when you turn down the heat to save money.
Tips For Exercising Dogs OUTDOORS In Wintertime:
6. Tag, you’re it!
Now, technically you could play tag indoors, but many would agree that the best game of tag with your dog is played outside in a park. Take turns chasing your dog and then getting them to chase you. It’ll assure both of you get a nice healthy cardio work-out and all that running around is sure to make you forget just how cold it is outside.
7. Just go outside!
Grin and bear it and just get outside! They will tell you if it’s too cold for them by lifting their paws or refusing to step out in the first place (in which case, refer to the above). 30-40 minutes of outdoor activity will usually leave your dog exhausted. Just make sure you give their paws a wash off afterwards to get rid of all the dirt and salt, which can be damaging to their health.
8. Walk in the morning.
In the early morning, it’s often not as cold as it gets in the middle of the day, or even later at night. Taking your dog for a morning walk provides a great cardio workout that benefits both of you, and it’s a great, productive way for you both to start off your day.
9. Fetch 2.0
This is one game of fetch you might prefer to play outdoors rather than risk the collisions in your living room. What we like to call Fetch 2.0 is where you throw the toy for your dog, but you run for it too. It creates an added competitive push that will guarantee you both get tuckered out by the workout. On the flip side, throw the ball one way and run the other so they have double the distance to go.
If you can get outside with your dog, it’s always better than staying indoors because fresh air has many added benefits to your health and theirs – but it’s important to make sure they are dressed for the weather. When we think of big dogs, oftentimes we think ‘big fur’. This isn’t always the case… some large dogs have thinner hair and are sensitive to the chilly elements. Dress them appropriately: if your dog isn’t a heavy-coated breed, they may require a jacket or even socks or booties to withstand outdoor activity. If you think they look silly in their coat, you aren’t alone, but it’s recommended that they dress for the weather rather than cut the walks shorter or risk your pet getting chilled to the bone.