Every season is beautiful in its own special way. The burst of
flowers in spring, memories of the beach during summer, the
colors of fall, and now, as winter arrives, we await the snow
dusted pine trees of a frosty morning. Our dogs love every
season as well, racing through flowers, leaves or snow with
equal vigor. But enough romanticizing the cold – it isn’t
always easy to get started when the sun sets before you get out
of work, walking down the street means dodging slush puddles
and you’re layering on outerwear until your arms won’t reach
your sides. Here are 7 active tips to keep your dog healthy
1. What you Need to Know
Your pup’s exercise requirements will differ by age, size,
breed and diet, but most veterinarians will agree that a dog
needs daily exercise, broken up into two or three sessions,
totaling no less than 45 minutes a day. An exercise session can
be anything from a brisk walk to a game of catch or a hard run
but it should try to incorporate both physical and mental
stimulation, as well as a bathroom break.
2. Put On Your Fur
Put yourself in your dog’s winter booties. If you had a thick
layer of fur, you wouldn’t mind spending an extra ten minutes
rolling in the snow. Always dress to be as warm as your pooch
and keep moving along with them. In this way you will both be
at a similar temperature and you will be more likely to want to
go in at the same time.
*If you have a husky, or other cold-weather dog, you
better invest in a warmer coat!
3. The Right Apparel is Key
Choosing the right clothing and gear is important for both you
and your dog. Avoid slipping on ice with a good pair of winter
boots, and get a matching pair of booties for your dog to help
keep their paws safe and comfy. Likewise, having some unique
winter toys on hand can increase the fun factor. Imagine
playing fetch with a heavy ball in the snow – one throw and
it’s game over. Choose a bright colored or glow-in-the-dark
Frisbee that won’t sink into snow. If it's cold but not
snowing, you can use something like the Giggler rubber dog ball for hours of
4. Make Your ‘Dog Chores’ Part of Your ‘Life Chores’
Exercise is as crucial for your health as it is for your dogs.
Don’t come home from the gym dreading your evening dog walk.
Instead develop a manageable winter workout to do with your
dog. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great exercises
you can share with your dog, but snowball fights and sledding
are also healthy pursuits your dog and family will love to get
5. Learn a New Sport
You have probably heard of dog sledding but have you ever heard
of skijoring? Skijoring is a variation on dog-sledding where
all your dog has to pull is you, on skis. Dog sledding can be a
fun and humane sport if you know what you’re doing but
skijoring requires much less equipment and a lighter load which
means it can be more suitable for someone who is running only
one or two dogs. As with all dog-pulling activities you have to
have the right leash to avoid straining your pooch. Get a sense
of how much weight your dog is comfortable pulling and let them
dictate the pace of the activity.
Or what about
snowshoeing with your dog? This snow-hiking experience is a
favorite of many hikers for the beautiful landscapes you get to
enjoy. Why not bring your dog along to enjoy it with you? Since
there aren't any snowshoes made for dogs, it's important to
consider whether the snow is packed enough for your dog to walk
on, or be prepared to "pave" the way for your dog by stomping
down on the snow!
6. Diet for a Darker Day
New studies in canine medicine suggest dogs are as susceptible
to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as humans. The best way to
fight winter blues is with lots of exercise and a healthy diet,
rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin D. If your dog doesn’t
feel like going out even when you snap on the leash and start
shaking the treats bag it may mean they are suffering from SAD
and they could benefit from a multi-vitamin and the use of a
sun lamp for a few mid-day hours.
7. Bring the Play Inside
If all else fails and you must stay in, don’t let that be an
excuse not to show your dog love and attention with active indoor games.
Race up and down the stairs, try some tug of war, or practice
some Dog Yoga. There are so many great ways to interact with
The cold days will come but, for your dog’s health and yours,
try to stay active and keep having fun.
4 Olympic-Worthy Winter Sports to Try With Your Dog
In honor of the Winter Olympics kicking off this weekend, and
in an attempt to make the best of this beastly weather some of
the US has been having, let us present some fun winter sports
to try out with your dog.
RELATED STORY: 7 Easy
Ways to Exercise Your Dog in Cold Weather
Originally demonstrated at the 1928 Winter Olympics in
Switzerland, this sport consists of one person on skis being
towed behind some source of directional force, be it animal or
machine. In the case of the original demonstration, the force
was applied by a horse, but for those without a fancy equine
companion, a medium to large
sized dog will do perfectly well.
Now bear in mind, this is no sport for the faint of heart. Only
those with adequate skiing experience should attempt it, and
beyond that, you should only try out skijoring if your dog is
able to follow basic
commands like “stop” and “stay.” Skijoring can get out
of hand very quickly if you are being pulled behind a dog whose
sole interest is chasing down a rabbit.
To get started down the exhilarating road of skijoring, you are
going to need a harness for your pooch, bungees, a tug line,
and a belt. Also, a pair of skis always helps, and a helmet --
2. Sled Dog Racing
From the legendary Iditarod to your backyard, sled dog racing
is a staple in the canine winter sport circuit, and while it
may require a little more “dog-power” than skijoring, you don’t
need a team of Baltos to drag you around the park.
To attempt this sport, you either need two medium sized dogs
that are able to work together, or one big powerful pooch that
can pull you around on their own.
RELATED STORY: What Are
the Largest Dog Breeds?
Again, it's best to make sure your dogs have a good
understanding of the commands “stop” and “wait” before
3. Weight Pulling
Fun for dogs of all sizes, weight pulling is a surefire way to
keep your pooch well exercised and occupied during the colder
months. All you need is a harness, a sled, and some bricks and
you are off to the races. Just remember to start off small and
work your way up gradually so you don't harm your dog.
If you keep at it, you will start to see an increase in you
dog's overall strength and stamina, and this is true about even
the tiniest dogs. But remember -- the stronger they become, the
harder they can pull you during a walk, so either make sure
they know how to heel, or start hitting the gym, too.
4. Snowball Fight
Now this is an easy one. If you are like many of us this year,
chances are you are surrounded by this clumpy white stuff. Why
not toss some your dog's way? Literally. Instead
of playing a game of fetch, just
lob them some nice, fat snowballs and watch as they scamper
A snowball fight has a few extra levels of entertainment value,
since the object the dog is after is made of snow, which
disappears the second they get their mouth around it. Or, even
better, should they miss a catch, letting the snowball land
back in the snow, watch as they look for that ball for minutes,
trying to discern exactly which piece of snow it was that they
were looking for. Hilarious.
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