Winter is truly the best time to stay inside your home and curl up under a blanket. With freezing temperatures, snow, and the cold air outdoors, working out and exercising may be the last thing on your mind. However, the same can’t be said when it comes to dogs.
Daily exercise is essential to your furry friend’s mental and physical health – even for you too. It keeps your pet’s joints stay strong and healthy, helps his/her mind stay sharp, and prevents being overweight. It also reduces behavioral problems, including excessive barking, digging, licking, and chewing. Plus, it helps combat anxiety and strengthens your human-animal bond.
So even with the cold weather, do consider adding a little bit of exercise to your daily routine. If you are out of ideas on how to exercise dogs in winter, here are 8 tips that every fido will surely enjoy.
How to Exercise Dogs in Winter – 8 Tips for Fido
1. Create an Obstacle Course
If you are stuck indoors, you can create an obstacle course inside your home where your dog will be forced to weave and navigate to get out. Not only will this improve your pet’s agility, but it will also exercise his/her mind. Moreover, setting up the obstacle course can be a fun activity you can all do as a family.
To make an obstacle course, you can use common household items like chairs, buckets, tables, boxes, blankets, brooms, etc. For instance, you can encourage your fido to jump by placing a broomstick or a pole between two low objects like flower pots or a stack of books. The boxes can act like mock tunnels where he/she can go through.
Don’t have boxes? You can drape a blanket over some chairs.
Now, to make building the course easier, you can also buy dog agility equipment. For one, there’s the 10-Foot Dog Tunnel by Better Sporting Dogs. It features two sandbags to keep the tunnel in place while indoors. You can also try the company’s Deluxe Agility Equipment Set, which includes the following:
- Adjustable bar jumps (2)
- Adjustable tire jump
- Fixed base weave poles (6)
- 10-foot long tunnel
- Chute tunnel
- Pause box
Playing a game of hide-and-seek is a great exercise. It gets your dog up and running, and it keeps him/her mentally engaged. It is also a good way to reinforce the “come” command. Moreover, it is very simple. Just throw a treat or a toy as a distraction and hide in any part of your home. If your dog doesn’t instantly come looking for you, try calling his/her attention.
You can also try hiding a treat or his/her favorite toy. Just make sure that your pet is familiar with the stay command if you prefer to use such items. Also, at the beginning of the game, it is best to choose a hiding spot that’s not out of sight. This way, your dog can find you, the toy, or treat the first few time,s and he/she will be able to figure out the game. Successfully finding you or the items will also boost your dog’s self-confidence.
Once your dog has got the hang of it, make it harder. This will keep him/her engaged and encourage him/her to use his/her sense of smell, sight, and hearing.
3. Smart Toys
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- Drive Mode: Control the dog toy through the Wicked bone available for iOS and Android), and move it with its virtual joystick, choosing between the puppy toy's 9 Available motions, and you’ll soon...
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What’s great about technology today is that pets can enjoy them too. Smart toys for dogs, for example, have become very in demand. One of the most popular is the Wickedbone Smart Bone, which allows you to play and interact with your dog through an app. So you can make your furry friend run around your home and get him/her moving by controlling the bone with your phone.
This smart bone also features an interactive auto-play mode that allows it to automatically adjust its reactions based on what your dog is doing. For instance, if your dog runs, it runs after him/her. If your dog chases the toy, it turns around and runs away. And when your pet ignores it, this bone will start teasing him/her.
4. Use the Stairs
For those with multi-level apartments or homes, you can take advantage of the free workout equipment that you already have – your stairs. Just walk or run up and down the stairs with your pet, and you instantly have a tiring workout. To make your routine more challenging, you can walk up sideways or take two steps at a time. But before you start making your pet use the stairs, make sure that he/she has healthy knees.
If the weather is nice outside and you want something more exciting than just walking around, you can also try skijoring or dog skiing. It is a dog sport where your pet runs through the snow with you in tow. It’s like dog sledding minus the reins or whips. To do this activity, your dog should be healthy, weighs at least 30 pounds, and has the stamina to pull you.
Skijoring is perfect for dogs that love snow. And it’s great for you too since it allows you to go outside and have a little adventure. The best part is, it is easy to learn, and you don’t need much to do it.
You simply need a mushing harness like the Alpine Outfitters Urban Trail Harness.
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- COMFORT - 100% padded with the highest quality, breathable, temperature neutral and moisture resistant fleece, no bare webbing or buckle exposed to dog to prevent chafing and abrasions.
- VERSATILITY - Four nickel plated steel D-Rings, one at back and one at front (to discourage pulling), and two Rings on each side for bike leash attachment or running.
You will also need a gangline or bungee leash to attach you to your dog. If you don’t have one yet, you can check out the Tuff Mutt Dog Leash, which already comes with a waist belt.
- EASY GLIDE BELT CLIP: Unlike other hands free leashes which force your leash to stay in one position, our durable clip smoothly slides along the lightweight belt allowing your dog move easily from...
- ADEQUATE RUNNING ROOM: Your dog can comfortably run in front of you, or beside you, without feeling like you are stepping on their heels. The 4 foot leash is long enough to provide plenty of space and...
- BEST FOR MEDIUM and LARGE DOGS: A strong durable bungee is placed between the two handles to keep your dogs pulling to a minimum and to absorb shock. To get the full benefits of the leash we recommend...
- EASILY CONTROL YOUR DOG: It's no fun having to stop right in the middle of an energetic run. Our two conveniently placed handles allow you to control your pup without breaking stride. Use a hands on...
However, if you want something thicker, stronger, and sturdier, you may need a skijoring belt like the Neewa Canicross & Skijoring Belt.
- 4 Adjustment Points. Waist from 29.5 in up to 40 in
- Reflective Bands
- Convenient Pocket in the Back for Keys
- Lightweight, Breathable, Non-Allergenic Materials
Other items you will need include your snowboarding helmet, a good pair of ski boots, and skis. Also, consider getting slightly longer poles so you can have more leverage when pushing with your arms.
Here’s another fun exercise you can do with your dog outdoors when the weather permits. This is perfect for fidos that love snow but aren’t big enough or are too old for skijoring. However, make sure that your pet is healthy and not overweight. Snowshoeing is an incredibly challenging workout, and if your furry friend is obese, he/she may not be able to handle it.
If you are interested in snowshoeing, you will need a few items, including the following:
- Snowshoes: You can either rent or buy snowshoes. Just make sure to choose which one best fits your weight, comfort level, terrain, and snow conditions. If you are looking for snowshoes for hilly and steep terrain, try the Atlas Spindrift. For all terrains, you can check out the Franklin Sports Arctic.
- Winter clothing: Always dress in layers that will protect you from the cold and wet outdoor conditions.
- Insulated hiking boots: Your boots should be warm, comfortable, insulated, and waterproof. It should also have thick soles with rubber or leather uppers. For instance, the Oboz Bridger 9” Insulated B-Dry Hiking Boots for women and Oboz Men’s Bridger 10” Insulated B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Boots are both perfect for the job.
- Poles: This is optional. However, if you want added balance and security, do consider having them with you on your trip.
- Others: Other items you should never forget are gloves or mittens and a hat. For winter gloves or mittens, make sure they are made of waterproof material. If you don’t have one yet, the Carhartt Men’s W.P. Insulated Glove is a great choice. For women, the MCTi Ski Gloves are effective yet affordable. When choosing hats, headbands, or balaclava, try looking for wool or synthetic material.
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A game of tug is a fun exercise that can help build your pet’s muscles. It also strengthens your bond and relationship. Moreover, you can both enjoy doing it together indoors when the weather isn’t nice outside. There are a wide variety of tug toys you can choose from today. And if you are looking for a new one to play with your dog, you can try the Chuckit! Ultra Tug.
8. Game of Chase
Want a simple and effective way to exercise your dog? Then a game of chase is perfect for you. By simply chasing your pet around your home, you can strengthen your bond and wear him/her out. The best part is, you don’t need anything to play a game of chase.
However, do make sure to keep it light and make him understand that it’s just a game so your dog won’t get too aggressive. Additionally, always play in a safe place where there aren’t any items that could get you or your pet hurt.