Winter Exercise for Your Pooch

It sure feels like it’s been a long winter on the South Shore.  I really miss all the outdoor time with my dogs.  Unfortunately, we’ve got to persevere a little longer before Mother Nature turns up the heat. Winter walks with your dog can be beautiful, but I’m not a cold weather gal.  My bitter cold fingers and toes, wet and messy dogs and struggle to remain vertical on slick surfaces detracts me from appreciating the beauty of the season. Daily hikes with my two senior terriers became drastically reduced as soon as the cold air blew in.

The winter months are tough on our pets too. All of us tend to spend more time indoors and are less active than usual.  We’re not the only ones who tend to gain some excess winter weight, our dogs do as well. Overweight or obese pets increases their risk of injury, disease and can shorten their life span. It’s really important that our pets maintain a healthy weight and get daily exercise right through our long winter. Lack of exercise can also result in a bored pooch which may cause problem behaviors such as nuisance barking and chewing. If you are like me and hate walking your dog on bitter cold days, here are some other ways to exercise your dog.

Indoor Games

Play fetch using a long hallway or open basement. Chasing games are popular with most dogs. Pull a stuffed toy attached to a rope to get your dog into chasing mode or play tug of war!

Stair Climbing

If your dog is young, healthy and not prone to hip problems, throw a ball or toy to the top of your carpeted stairs for an enthusiastic game of fetch.

Tricks and Training

Teach your dog some new tricks. If your dog already knows the basic, try teaching him something to help out around the house, such as picking up his toys and putting them in a basket. Training is a great way to improve the bond between you and your pet.

Classes

Try agility or sign up for an obedience classes with your dog. Your dog will be excited to get out of the house and it is a great socialization experience.

Dog Friendly Outings

Take your dog to the pet store when you’re shopping for pet supplies. While you’re out, shop at some other dog friendly retail stores. This is a favorite with my two pooches.

Play Dates

Get together with friends who have dogs that want to exercise and play. Host a play date in your home if you have the extra space for dogs to romp.

Treadmills

Treadmills can work wonders to exercise your dog and many of them love it. Start slowly with your dog on a leash using high-value treats for motivation. Once your dog is comfortable walking slowly, gradually increase to a jog. Stay with your dog and watch him closely. If he doesn’t seem to enjoy the treadmill (mine do not) try one of the other ideas on this list.

When you do venture out in the cold, remember that small, short haired and senior dogs need a sweater or coat to help keep them warm.  Dog booties can keep paws dry and free from salt and ice. Try paw wax if your pet won’t tolerate booties.