7 Ways to Exercise Your Dog in Cold Weather Keeping Your Pet Active in the Winter Can Be More Difficult; Here's How to Do It

BY | November 09 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
7 Ways to Exercise Your Dog in Cold Weather

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It's getting cold outside and suddenly a game of fetch seems less appealing than it did 4 months ago. Ensuring that your dogs get enough exercise throughout the year is crucial to their health. Here we present seven useful tips to make sure that you are giving your dog enough exercise throughout the winter.

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 โ€“ it isnโ€™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 youโ€™re layering on outerwear until your arms wonโ€™t reach your sides. Here are 7 active tips to keep your dog healthy this winter.

1. What you Need to Know

Your pupโ€™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 dogโ€™s winter booties. If you had a thick layer of fur, you wouldnโ€™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 โ€“ one throw and itโ€™s game over. Choose a bright colored or glow-in-the-dark Frisbee that wonโ€™t sink into snow. If it's cold but not snowing, you can use something like the Giggler rubber dog ball for hours of fetching fun.

4. Make Your โ€˜Dog Choresโ€™ Part of Your โ€˜Life Choresโ€™

Exercise is as crucial for your health as it is for your dogs. Donโ€™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 together for.

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 youโ€™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 doesnโ€™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, donโ€™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 your dog.

The cold days will come but, for your dogโ€™s health and yours, try to stay active and keep having fun.

4 Olympic-Worthy Winter Sports to Try With Your Dog

Winter-Sports-Blog

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

1. Skijoring

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 โ€œstopโ€ and โ€œstay.โ€ 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 -- safety first!

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 โ€œdog-powerโ€ than skijoring, you donโ€™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 โ€œstopโ€ and โ€œwaitโ€ before attempting.

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 after them.

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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