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It can be hard to keep up an exercise routine in the winter. This is as true for dogs as it is for humans. Cold temperatures, snow, shorter days and other challenges can make walking dogs in the winter season difficult and potentially dangerous. Following winter pet safety tips can help reduce the dangers, but don't alleviate all of the hardships. Keep reading for some helpful solutions to the challenge of walking your dog in winter.
Walking Your Dog in Winter: Is it a Good Idea?
Winter weather can pose a number of dangers and challenges for dogs. For one thing, puppies and senior dogs are more susceptible to extreme temperatures and are at higher risk for cold-weather illnesses, according to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).
Dogs with certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease or chronic lung problems, should also have very limited exposure to cold air.
For days when it's too cold or the weather is too bad to walk your dog outdoors, here are some ideas for getting him the physical activity and stimulation he needs while staying warm and toasty indoors.
Play fetch: A long hallway or an obstacle-free stretch of a large room is enough for your pup to chase after his favourite toy. It may need to turn into a game of soccer if your dog hasn't quite mastered the returning of the toy yet.
Run up and down the stairs: As long as your pooch is healthy, doesn't have any joint or hip problems and can navigate stairs with no problems, a few laps up and down a carpeted staircase can be great exercise. Added bonus, you'll get your own heart rate up too!
Play chase: If your home is large enough, get your pup to chase you as you run from room to room. Use treats or a favourite toy to entice him if he needs motivation to get moving.
Play hide-and-seek: Hide treats or toys around the house and encourage your pup to seek them out.
Sign up for a class: Winter might be a good time to brush up on good manners and obedience training. A class provides an opportunity for indoor activity and a chance for you both to socialise, which can help combat cabin fever. Your pup might also enjoy agility training on an indoor course, or you might check with your gym to see if they offer "doga," yoga classes you can do with your dog.
Brush up on training at home: If taking a class isn't an option, you can still combine exercise and mental stimulation with reinforcing your furry companion's obedience skills using books, DVDs, websites, or online tutorials as a guide.
Join a doggie gym/indoor dog park: While these are still growing in popularity, if there's one in your area, a gym for dogs offers a variety of fun indoor play and exercise options for your pooch.
While certain challenges come with walking dog in winter, it is certainly possible to do it in a way that is safe and fun for everyone. Paying attention to his needs and comfort, as well as keeping a close eye on surroundings and exercising common sense, can all go a long way toward ensuring a safe and active winter. Also, remember to take your own precautions when going out. Make sure to bundle up to avoid you from getting sick or injured too. We care about the well-being of pet parents as much as we do pets too!
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.