How to Keep Your Dog Active in Winter
by Geoff Works |
Nothing’s better than curling up in bed with a warm cup of cocoa during winter, right? But as comfy as it sounds, there could be a downside to staying inactive during the cold months.
For one, the cold weather could put your dog at risk for conditions like frostbite or arthritis. Since dogs tend to be more sedentary during the winter season, they may suffer from weight problems. In turn, obesity could put them at risk of joint problems and make your pet unable to perform its daily activities.
Avoid this from happening and learn how to keep your dog active in winter. We’ve listed down indoor activities to help your pet stay fit despite the cold weather.
1. Indoor Trick Training
The cold weather makes it difficult for pets to exercise but you can work your way around this by introducing winter dog activities to work their body and mind. Indoor trick training is a great example of this.
During indoor trick training, you’ll be making basic commands to your pet like sit, come, down, and stay. Don’t forget to praise your dog every time they follow instructions. This will keep them in high spirits and feel encouraged to continue with the training.
If you have a smaller breed of dog, teach it how to stand on its hind legs. Tell them to sit, then hold up a treat near its nose. Slowly lift your hand to make the treat difficult to reach. Your dog will follow your hand and try to reach by standing up using their hind legs.
For larger breeds, you could try teaching them to roll over. Command your pet to stay down then hold a treat near its face. Slowly move the treat behind your dog’s neck so they can roll over to try and reach.
2. Find the Treat or Toy
Since your pet will mostly be staying indoors during the winter, you’ll need to think of creative winter indoor activities for dogs. One example of a fun game to play is finding the treat or toy. This game trains their instincts and gives their muscles a proper workout, even when they’re in a small, enclosed area.
First, show a treat or toy to your dog, then show them where you plan to place the object. Once the toy or treat has been safely tucked away, give a cue for them to start finding the treat. Play for a few rounds so your dog will understand how the game works. Later on, you might want to increase the difficulty by making your dog stay in another room while you hide the treats.
Give your dog a pat on the head every time they successfully find the hidden treat. Just be patient and have fun!
3. Hide and Seek
Who says you can’t play hide and seek with your dog? Try it — it’s a great way to bond. Aside from giving your furry companion a full body workout, it can improve concentration and sharpen the senses.
For hide and seek with your dog to work, you’ll need someone to watch over the game and restrain your pet while you’re looking for a place to hide. Once you’re ready, give your dog a signal (like whistling or calling out their name) so it can start finding you. Your dog’s sense of smell will be in overdrive as they follow your scent and trace you to your hiding spot.
4. Mini Obstacle Courses
Mini obstacle courses are great for agility training, and it’s suitable for small to large breeds. It’s a great way to keep your pet moving while developing skills like obedience and self-control. In fact, agility exercises can prevent common dog injuries because it strengthens different parts of the body.
Even if you’re indoors, you can still create an obstacle course with ramps and tunnels made from homemade items like cardboard or mats. Just make sure you have enough space and keep fragile items away from the obstacle course to avoid accidents and injuries.
5. Tug of War
Some pet owners worry that playing tug of war could encourage aggression. But playing this game can actually teach your dog the importance of following rules and boundaries. For example, taking things too far could inspire feelings of sympathy toward other animals and humans.
Before you play tug of war, train your dog by giving them a command (like saying “no” or “drop it”) to calm down during tense situations. Moreover, choose a durable rope made of sturdy materials that can withstand your dog’s pulling force. Then have fun and enjoy the game! If your dog gets too carried away, issue the command when it breaks rules or when its teeth come in contact with any part of your body.
6. Follow the Leader
Asking yourself how to exercise your dog in winter? Add the game “follow the leader” to your list of things to do. As the name suggests, it urges your furry companion to trust you as the leader while boosting their own confidence. And since your pet will be following you around, it can help your dog overcome their fears.
Start by enticing your dog to follow you with a treat or toy. Then walk through an obstacle course with your dog in tow. To make sure they’re on your trail, teach your pet the command “follow me.” Just make sure to keep you and your pet safe by clearing your path of pointy or slippery objects.
7. Flirt Pole
A flirt pole might seem like a questionable name for a dog toy but it’s absolutely fun to play with. A flirt pole is a type of equipment that encourages your pet to chase after a fast moving lure. That being said, it’s a great toy for physically and mentally challenging your dogs without leaving the house.
Here’s how you can play with a flirty pole: first, instruct your furry friend to lay down and leave the pole alone. Then, give them a cue to get the treat where they can chase the object. After a few attempts of pulling the toy and keeping the lure far from reach, you can reward their hard work and let your dog play with the toy.
8. Indoor Parkour
If you’re stuck indoors, make productive use of your time by training your dog’s indoor parkour skills. There’s no need for complex obstacles, though — you can use basic household items, such as couches, beds, or pillows. Don’t forget to place treats and toys at the end of the DIY maze to encourage your furry companion to climb and jump around.
A parkour can help strengthen your dog’s muscles to make them less prone to injuries. In particular, it could help them become less susceptible to a CCL injury because it’s an activity that strengthens the ligaments, bones, and joints.
9. Pet Treadmill
If you own a treadmill, it offers a way for you to exercise all-year-round and condition your dog’s muscles. But before letting your dog use this equipment, it’s crucial to know what treadmill size suits them best. After all, using the right size of treadmill can help ensure your furry companion’s safety while preventing accidents.
Once you’ve found the right treadmill for your dog, make sure you don’t force them to use it if they aren’t ready. Start with a slow speed at first (1 mph) so they can keep up. Once they’re used to using the treadmill, you can start increasing the speed to at least 5 mph. Don’t forget to offer treats to encourage them to run!
Even though it’s winter, your dog can safely swim inside the house. It’s a low-impact exercise that offers health benefits, such as reduced stress and better physical performance. In fact, even just a two-minute swimming session is enough for keeping your dog active during the cold weather.
You don’t need your own swimming pool to encourage your dog to swim. All you need to do is to fill your bathtub or dog pool with an inch or two of water so your dog can swim around. If you have a larger breed of dog, increase the water level to up to five inches. Then voila, your dog can swim in the comfort of your home!
Dog Activities During the Winter Season
The winter season offers an excellent opportunity to bond with your pet. It gives your dog the chance to stay fit with simple activities that don’t require sports equipment. So try out these winter activities and have fun!