I’m not a big fan of winter and neither are my dogs. Why? Well, apart from the fact that I’m essentially hibernating underneath the covers and daydreaming of Florida…their time outside is seriously reduced. Wintertime becomes strategic as we attempt to minimize outside activity and maximize indoor warmth and comfort. We’ve developed a six-point plan to help get you through the next couples of months…
Balancing comfort and activity is a challenge during the winter, and the same is true for your pooch. It takes some work, but there are some great ways to keep your dog’s heart rate up and yours as well. Here’s how to keep your dog healthy this winter:
- Indoor Olympics – Have some fun with your pup and create a doggy Olympics! There are many ways to keep your dog healthy and active indoors.
-Spice up the classic game of fetch by utilizing stairs as obstacles
-Play tug-of-war. If they win, they get a treat. If you win, you get wine.
-Use treats to reward them through an obstacle course made of chairs and jumps-Help get their predatory instincts out by attaching a toy or treat to the end of a stick and letting them chase you.
- Find an Indoor Exercise Area – Find or start a local indoor exercise meet-up for dogs or search for a place that allows swimming.
-This will force both of you to make the trek and get out of the house.
-It also has the great added benefit of socializing your pup with other cabin fever canines.
- Diet Changes – Dogs are just like humans when it comes to calorie consumption – food is dependent on the amount of activity.
-If you are committing to giving your dog a lot of exercise, bump up the calories a bit.
-If you are not able to give your pup as much exercise as you would like, slightly decrease the amount of food consumption.
-It’s important to only gradually increase or decrease your dog’s consumption since an extreme change is never good for the body.
-Another good practice is to have your pooch work for their meals and treats a little bit by buying a challenging feeding toy or hiding treats for them to sniff out. This may seem mean, but remember that dogs are natural scavengers and love a good challenge!
- Doggy Treadmill – This is great way for a dog to get its blood pumping, but don’t forget the personal benefit of getting some belly-laugh exercises!
-There are specific treadmills for dogs, but you can always use a human one if you can’t afford it.
-Make sure to slowly familiarize your pooch with how to use it, starting with slow settings and minimal time and gradually increasing intensity.
-If you don’t have a treadmill but know someone who does, this would be another great way of scheduling another pup meet-up for more social interaction (and human interaction too).
- Fight the Elements – Get Outdoors! – This seems quite counter intuitive to your hibernation cycle, but try to set a schedule for a few outdoor strolls each week.
-Many big dogs love playing in snow, which is great exercise.
-Time spent outside doesn’t have to be long (10-15 minutes), and depending on the temperature, shouldn’t be.
-Make sure you are avoiding rock salt, which can be harmful to your pup’s paws, and to thoroughly clean and inspect them when you return. You can also buy doggy paw pads to avoid the risks altogether, and look stylish at the same time!
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list on how to keep your dog healthy this winter. Be sure to do more research online and with friends to learn other ways to keep your dog active and healthy during the cold, winter months then feel free to share them on our social media pages. Warm thoughts coming your way and spring is right around the corner! ;o)