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Keeping Pets Active in Winter

Cats Dogs Health & Wellness Holidays

dog running in snow

Do You Snow How To Keep Your Dog Active In Winter?

People tend to think of summer as the season to get in shape and engage themselves in more physical activity. Going for runs, swims, hikes, and much more. The best part of these activities is that people often use them to get their pets active, too! Many dogs love to do these sorts of exercises, especially if it means extra time spent with their pet parent. But what happens when the summer sunshine starts to dwindle away, leading into the chilly days of fall? And then eventually into the brisk, snowy days of winter? Luckily, there are still plenty of ways you can keep your pooch moving during the wintery weather.

Play Outdoors

Just as dogs love to romp around in the grass on a warm summer day, they might equally love to go outdoors during winter! In fact, the snow may act as an extra element of fun and a way to spice up a usual walk, hike, trip to the park, or time spent in the backyard. However, beware of salt or other chemicals sprinkled along the sidewalk to prevent ice. Your dog’s paws should be protected from dangers such as these by either avoiding it when possible or throwing a pair of doggy shoes on them first. Also slip a shirt, sweater, or jacket onto your canine if they have shorter hair or would simply benefit from a little extra protection that day. More importantly, be able to recognize if it may just be too cold for your companion to go out. Instead, try out an indoor activity.

Fetch & Tug-of-War

Indoor playtime is one of the easiest solutions for how to keep your pet active during the winter. For days that are too frosty, invest in a few toys. A classic game of fetch will keep your pup running back and forth trying to retrieve the ball. There’s also the classic game of Tug-of-War. This game will get your pet jumping, wriggling, and pulling at the rope, which will not only physically engage them, but also bring about a bit of healthy competition. These are the toys that will provide you and your pet an opportunity to bond, but there are plenty others that your pet can enjoy on their own time. Pick from discs, stuffed animals, chew toys, etc.

Puzzles

Puzzles are their very own type of toy. What makes these so great is that it does get your pet physically active, but more so mentally stimulated. There’s a large variety of puzzle toys, many of them involving food or treats. Most of them will enclose the treat, prompting your dog to sniff for it and uncover it. This will not only encourage them to think and work for their food, but also slow down their eating, thus preventing overeating or gastrointestinal upsets.

Puppy Play Dates

Your pup’s favorite pastime may be meeting up with other dogs at the local dog park, so bring them there for some fun in the snow with their playmates! But if the weather is too cold, chances are the park may be empty or even closed. Bring the party home instead! Organize for a couple neighborhood dogs to meet up in someone’s household or backyard! Just think of the endless possibilities of how the neighborhood pets may get active all together. Simply running and chasing after one another and wrestling around is already a highly fun, physical way for your companion to stay active. Add in a couple toys or games of fetch and tug-of-war, and they’ll have even more of a blast.

DIY Obstacle Course

Throw together a DIY obstacle course, similar to that of an agility course. Use furniture that’s already around your house, such as chairs, boxes, brooms, blankets, buckets, hula hoops, and laundry baskets. There are a variety of ways that these can be utilized and arranged to create an indoor doggy version of Wipeout or American Ninja Warrior. Manipulate your furniture and supplies to stimulate running, weaving through barriers, jumping, sliding, rolling, etc. This is a particularly creative way to get your dog thinking and moving in a way that they probably haven’t experienced before. The best part is you can rearrange the furniture for a different course to navigate through each time. 

Stairs

A set of stairs is a great form of cardio, as a lot of gym-goers would know. If you have one in your house, going up and down the flight of stairs repeatedly alongside your pup may not even feel like a workout to them. They might just view it as following their favorite pet owner around either upstairs or downstairs! Plus, it helps you get a workout in, too!

An alternative to this would be a treadmill. Should you have one, this can be used for cardio, as well. Firstly, set it to a low speed. Then place a treat in front of your pet, prompting them to begin walking towards you while on the treadmill. You can gradually increase the speed setting once your pet becomes used to walking on the machine. Always supervise your pet to ensure they are safe and comfortable on the treadmill. Be attentive and know when to lower the speed or turn the machine off to allow your pet to get off.

Practice Tricks

With less time spent outside, winter is a good time to practice tricks inside with your canine. Teach your pet all the useful basics like “Sit,” “Stay,” “Down,” “Roll Over,” etc. Then instill new, more complicated commands like “Shake Paws,” “Go hide,” “Speak,” “Spin,” “Close the door,” “Play dead,” and many more. Learning new tricks requires your pet to be active and practice control of their body and movements, plus it’s very mentally stimulating. Not only that, but you’re training your pet to be obedient to you. Increased obedience in your pet will foster a healthy relationship between the two of you where your pet will trust you and your commands.

Dog Classes

Enroll your dog in an obedience class or agility class. The reasons for why this is a smart move are numerous. The first reason is that it is a sure way to keep your canine active even in the winter, as they’ll be learning new tricks and commands. They’ll be especially active if they’re at an advanced training level. The second reason is just that! They’ll be learning so many useful, important commands that every dog should know, such as the basic “Sit” or “Stay.” These will not only create a trusting relationship between you and your pet, but it will help ensure the safety of your pet and those around it. Last but not least, classes are a great place for pets to socialize. Your dog will be able to build a stronger connection to other student dogs, other animal lovers, and most importantly, you.

Winter may seem a little bleak or limited in what forms of exercise your pup can receive, but by putting in a little extra effort and creativity and finding the right supplies, you can turn the season into a fun one!

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