Whatever the weather, it’s important to give our pets lots of mental and physical stimulation for them to be happy and healthy. But how do you encourage your dog to keep active in winter?
A recent study revealed that 56 per cent of owners were reluctant to exercise their dogs during the colder months of the year. No doubt, it can prove to be a challenge – torrential downpours, falling snow and slippery ice. However, it doesn’t mean you should deprive your pooch of its exercise.
Here are some tips on how to keep your pet’s energy up as they try to stave off those winter blues.
1) Indoor games
Stuck indoors? Don’t worry! You can keep your dog entertained at home with plenty of games such as tug of war, fetch, hide and seek, and scent games. Kong toys and puzzles are fantastic for getting their brains ticking and using that powerful sense of smell to find tasty treats.
It’s also a good opportunity to work on obedience training – a method proven to to develop and strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners. Practice sit, down, or stay a few times with lots of positive reinforcement.
2) Go sledding!
If winter means a lot of snow in your area, why not encourage Fido to come along if he’s interested? Dogs have been seen running alongside humans on sleds since the dawn of time, and it is an exhilarating experience for both the owner and dog. In fact, as long as you are sure that your dog is safe around other people and pets – as well as being fit
enough to run fast alongside you – this could be a great source of fun!
In colder weather, there may be less opportunities for walks or playing outside. Thankfully, there are still alternatives to keep your dog active in winter. Swimming allows them to exercise without any harsh impact on their joints, and many veterinary physiotherapy practices often use hydrotherapy (a treatment which involves the natural buoyancy of water) to rehabilitate patients with chronic mobility problems.
Other benefits of swimming include improving cardiovascular fitness, building muscles, and releasing stress – just chuck in a ball and watch them go!
4) Get involved in canine sports
Some of you may be surprised to know that some dog owners actually get their pets involved in competitive activities. This could range from running beside owners while they ride bikes, to agility courses where dogs must make their way through tunnels and over jumping obstacles (that are not too high).
Yet, contrary to popular belief, it is very important for dogs to take part in these activities only if both the owner and his/her pet are up for it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a stressed-out pup who is not having fun anymore.
5) Get your pet a treadmill
If you are unsure how much exercise your dog can take on in the winter, don’t risk it. Instead, you could get them one of the best Christmas gifts for dogs this year: their own treadmill! Yes, these exist for dogs too (and cats!). It might be expensive to purchase initially, but it’s an investment that could end up saving you money in the long run, especially if it’s freezing outside. Always remember to start off slowly, increasing the speed and amount of time once your pup is comfortable walking on the machine.