Don’t let the colder weather and the shortened daylight hours prevent your dog from spending all their pent-up energy and getting plenty of exercise. Even in extreme temperatures, it’s important to keep your dog both mentally and physically active.
Just remember that new temperatures mean new safety precautions for your pup. Not all breeds are suited for outdoor play in winter, and even dogs with thick coats are subject to frostbite or hypothermia. A good rule of thumb is: if you’re cold, your dog probably is, too. Bundle them up and check for signs of cold weather injury or damage, like cracked or bleeding paw pads. Also, ice and rock salt can be extremely bothersome to dog’s sensitive paws, so consider using dog booties or putting a coat of balm or petroleum jelly on their paws before taking them outside.
Here are some creative winter activities to keep your dog busy during this sometime dreary time of the year:
Snow is the perfect hiding spot for fun things – toys, tennis balls, treats, etc. Hide items all over backyard and test your dog’s tracking skills! Tracking is great way to keep your pup’s sense of smell strong and see their problem-solving skills in action. What’s more, your dog will get lots of exercise running around, playing with toys and eating treats. The combination of nutrition, mental stimulation and play will keep your pup busy and active.
Embrace the winter spirit by taking your dog to a nearby park or sledding hill. If you have small kids, set up a short course and have your dog (or dogs), pull the children for a ride. Make sure your dog doesn’t pull the sled down any steep incline so they aren’t accidently run over by the sled. Additionally, make sure your dog is wearing a harness. Having your dog pull a sled while wearing just a collar could hurt their neck. Your pet shouldn’t pull more weight than what they can handle. If they are pulling a sled full of small children, make sure an adult is always with the dog in case he gets scared and wants to run away.
Another fun and creative activity is skijoring. All you need is you, your dog and pair of skis for the ultimate workout. Skijoring is like cross-country skiing, but with a little help from your dog. The dog is harnessed to the pet parent with a quick release attachment (just in case you need to release your dog from yourself during a fall). As the dog pulls, the parent uses the skis and poles to keep the momentum going. As with sledding, make sure the dog is pulling with a harness and not with his collar. Challenge your pup and watch how fast your dog can pick up commands for turning and stopping. If your dog is a pulling breed (Husky, Samoyed, Newfoundland, etc) make sure to give them forced breaks. Dogs that have been bred to pull won’t always know when they are over tired.
The winter months can be hard on our pets, especially if they are cooped up and inactive. If you don’t have the time or energy to take your dog outside in the cooler months, bring them to Dogtopia for some indoor fun and exercise with their furry friends!