If you have a dog, you already know that they need plenty of mental and physical exercise to stay happy and healthy. A lack of appropriate mental and physical exercise, will not only make you crazy but will have an adverse impact on your dog’s health. This can be a challenge during the winter months. The problem of exercise is especially noticeable if you have one of those pooches who would rather tuck their nose into their bed and stay there at the first nip of cold winter air. If you do not like to spend time frolicking outside in the snow, SK9s at Woof in the Woods is here to help you with our top 10 winter activities for dogs.
Have Your Dog Work for His/Her Food
Chow time for our dogs can be a great way to expend both mental and physical energy. Instead of merely placing a bowl full of food down for them to inhale in 30 seconds, which is not healthy by the way, challenge him instead. Here are a few ways to challenge your pet with food:
- Treat-Dispensing Toys: These types of toys give your dog’s brain a mental workout with a delicious reward at the end. All you have to do is drop in a small amount of dry dog food, and your pup will have to use their brain to figure out how to roll the toy around to get it out.
- Check into Slow Feeders: Another option to keep your pet entertained is to feed them with a slow feeder in the shape of a maze. These feeders are not just a bowl, but your dog will have to “chase” the food around the maze to eat it. Another benefit of these feeders is that it forces your dog to slow down instead of inhaling their food. Muffin tins are a less expensive alternative to the commercially available slow feeders.
- Hide Treats Inside: If you are looking for a simpler option, you can hide treats around your home and have them sniff them out, or you can place their food bowl in varying locations each time you feed them to encourage them to use their nose to “sniff out” the location of their meal. Step up the fun and anticipation and train them to sit and wait for you to give them the food once they “alert” you to have found it.
Bring the Outside In
You do not have to go outside in the freezing temperatures or snow to get some much-needed exercise. There are many ways to engage your dog inside to get them moving.
- Hide & Seek: The familiar tradition of playing hide and seek never gets old for your pup, and it does not always have to involve food. For example, have your pooch find you by distracting them with a treat in one room while you hide in another. They will enjoy finding you and get excited. Add in a little toy play as the reward when they “find” you.
- Climb the Stairs: Not always recommended for older dogs with joint issues, but running up and downstairs is an excellent exercise for both you and your dog. If you do not feel like joining your pup, toss their favorite toy up the stairs for them to retrieve.
- Treadmill Training: Teach your dog to walk on a treadmill if you have one available. Treadmills can be great confidence builders in dogs, once they get over any concerns about the ground moving under their feet.
- Fetch: Playing fetch does not have to be only an outdoor activity you can play fetch anytime with your dog inside. Just use a hallway, garage or other spacious room in your home and toss their favorite toy around a while. We only advise making sure there is nothing that they can break by bumping into when they are excited. Be careful to monitor for overexcitement so they don’t think they can engage in outdoor play inside.
- Get Creative with an Indoor Agility Course: Use what you have around your homes such as broomsticks, chairs, blankets, and more to set up a course for your dog to navigate. You can spend quality time training your dog to navigate it and reward him with adoration, hugs, and kisses.
- Sign Up for a Class: Check online for local classes for your dog. Local pet stores may be offering obedience classes, and social media is a great place to search for doggie meetups. At Woof in the Woods, we offer several group classes, Walkin’ Wednesday and will soon be starting monthly hikes and other pack walks to help owners do more with their dogs.
Get Outside and Relish the Winter Wonderland
Even if the air is a little colder than you might like, nothing truly substitutes spending time outside with your dog. You may not be able to withstand long walks, depending on how severe your weather is, but taking your dog for a walk is the best way to keep him healthy. You may find yourself surprised as to how it boosts your mood as well.
We hope this has helped you to generate some new ideas on how to keep your dog healthy this winter. Here at SK9s at Woof in the Woods, we love teaching dogs, coaching owners, and helping you both to achieve your goals. If you need help with your dog or have questions, contact us, and we will be happy to assist you!