Winter or summer, we need to stay active, get exercise, and have fun. And guess what? We’re not the only ones! Our canine companions need it as much as we do! So here are a few ideas for fun and useful activities you can enjoy with your beloved dog when cold weather arrives.
1. Hiking and walks in the Park
Hiking is an activity both you and your pet will enjoy. You can take advantage of the fresh wintry air and stretch those muscles. Both short and long hikes build your dog’s muscle endurance and are a great exercise for the joints. For less athletic dogs, a walk in the park might be a better option. Luckily, lots of dog parks stay open all year round!
2. Skijoring and Snowshoeing
For athletic dogs who love new experiences, these two canicross spin-offs could be a perfect match. Canicross is like walking your dog except, he is wearing a harness attached to a belt around your waist, with a bungee cord. For skijoring or snowshoeing, all you have to do is put on cross-country skis or snowshoes instead of your running shoes. For these activities, good communication and teamwork between you and your dog is a must. It will bring you even closer together!
Nosework is a novel and playful activity. As the name suggests, it makes use of your pet’s sense of smell—ability to detect scents—in order to locate target odors. Here’s how it works: present a target odor to your dog and hide an object with that scent on it for her to find. You wouldn’t think so, but this activity has all sorts of benefits. From a physical perspective, your dog will get quite a workout, including less common movements, as she runs the course and encounters various obstacles while seeking out the scented “prize.”
4. Ball Fetch or Frisbee Catch
And let’s not forget that traditional activity—tossing a ball or Frisbee—because it’s a great activity in the winter, too. Unlike the activities described above, it often involves less typical, dynamic movement patterns that are good for your dog because your pet usually sprints after the ball or Frisbee. Be careful, though, this type of activity is not advised for dogs with osteoarthritis or a predisposition to back pain. And here’s a tip, the advantage of using a Frisbee in the winter is that it’s less likely to get buried and lost in the snow.
5. Indoor Activities
Lastly, let’s not forget that winter activities don’t have to be limited to the outdoors. In fact, in inclement weather or when the temperature drops, or if you or your pet has physical limitations, we strongly recommend indoor exercise. For instance, agility courses and hide-and-seek are two fun and useful activities. Why not take a look, too, at our rehabilitation excercise videos, which show you healthy ways to exercise your pet’s joints, even when there’s a blizzard outside.
And no matter what winter activity you decide on, always keep in mind your dog’s physical condition and state of health. Exercise shouldn’t cause your pet discomfort: it should be an enjoyable contribution to his well-being!