by Shanna Stichler
Cold weather and shorter days make it all too easy for both us and our dogs to spend a bit too much time cuddling on the couch. Here are 5 tips to help us keep our dogs active and fit during the cold weather months.
Take A Wintry Walk Outdoors
Believe it or not, winter walks with our pups can be a lot of fun. Most dogs really enjoy getting out in the brisk weather. It’s important to remember that salt and other de-icing chemicals can be harmful to our dogs’ paws. Use booties or protective paw wax to allow optimal enjoyment or be sure to rinse paws off as soon as you come inside. Also, dogs with short hair may benefit from a winter coat or sweater. If a long walk isn’t your thing, try a fun game of fetch in the snow. You can find a lot of toys that will be easier for your dog to find in the snow, which will keep his mind active, too!
Make Mealtime Stimulating
here are many ways to keep our dogs’ mind active without actually going outdoors on especially cold days. You can feed them meals in a food puzzle toy instead of in their bowl. Studies have shown that dogs enjoy their dog food more when they have to work for it. Offering meals in this manner also slows our dogs down while eating, which can help prevent serious gastrointestinal conditions.
Make Treat Time Fun, Too
There are two simple ways to make giving your dog her treats more interesting. First, you can offer them in a treat-dispensing toy or give long-lasting chews. Another way is to use treats to teach your dog how to play hide and seek. Start by keeping your dog in one room while you hide treats in another. Then, let him loose to find all the goodies. You’ll want to make the treats easy to find until he starts to understand the new game. When he starts getting the idea, make the treats gradually more difficult for him to find. You can also play games of fetch or tug of war with your pooch. These indoor games will stimulate your dog’s mind as well as exercise his body.
Take Your Dog Shopping
Do you need to buy some food puzzles or new treats? Well, try taking your pup with you to your favorite pet supply store. A lot of dogs enjoy going wherever their people do, and they have even more fun at stores full of stuff just for him! New experiences are especially good for puppies, as long as they’re vaccinated, of course! Be sure to check around for the pet-friendly stores in your area. Also, don’t force your dog to remain anywhere he feels uncomfortable for too long.
Enroll In A Training Class
Obedience or agility classes are fun activities any time of the year, but they’re especially great indoor activities during colder weather. Check with your local animal shelter or pet supply store if you need a trainer referral. A lot of major pet supply stores offer dog training classes, as well. Puppies especially benefit from attending puppy kindergarten to learn some basic commands and gain confidence. Agility is a lot of fun for older dogs. No matter which classes you decide to take with your furry friend, he’ll enjoy learning and working with you!
Keeping our dogs active during the winter months can require a little more creativity compared to other seasons. However, our dogs will thank us by acting calmer and behaving better in the house if we give them the exercise, they need all year round.