Though the weather is colder and the days are shorter, keeping fit and
active is still a priority for you and your dog and this article can
give you some fun and challenging ideas for staying active. For
simplicity, let's divide them into two main categories - indoor and
INDOOR Activities: If the weather outside really is frightful, here are
some suggestions on how to keep your pooch engaged and active in your
Hide and Seek: Dogs lead with their noses and finding you or a favorite toy is a great reward!
-Bubble Chasing: Purchase a non-toxic bubble formula and wand and have
at it! You might want to turn a fan on to move the bubbles even more and
secure any valuables before you start.
Training Reinforcement: Work on your dog's sit/stay or down and
intersperse your training with fun stuff and rewards - plenty of smiles,
praise and pats and an occasional treat.
Treadmill Walking: If you have one, you can teach your dog how to use
it safely. You might even take turns using this while watching your
favorite dog-related TV shows.
An Indoor Class: This can be anything from fly ball to agility to
swimming. A great way to bond with and spend quality time with your dog.
OUTDOOR Activities: Depending on both your level of fitness and that of
your dog, you may have to start slowly and work up to longer periods of
Fetch: Dogs with a high play and prey drive love to chase, whatever
the weather. In very cold temps, start with a preliminary warm-up first
like a walk or short hike.
"Go find it!": This is an outdoor variation of hide and seek. Take a
favorite toy and "bury" it in the snow and let your dog find it.
Skjoring: A combination of cross country skiing and mushing. You are
in your cross country skiing gear and your dog or dogs have a special
harness that allows them to pull you across the snow. An incredible work
out for medium to large-size dogs!
Doggie Skiing: One of my favorite contemporary writers, Ted Kerasote
(whose thoughtful and well-written books I highly recommend) is an avid
backcountry skier. Throughout the winter, he has taken his dogs with him
where they follow him down the mountain with a combination of sliding
and plowing! Another activity to gradually work up to - this is probably
not a good "weekend warrior" activity!
Just go for a walk: Watching dogs playing in the snow makes me laugh
out loud! They stick their muzzles in it, eat big chunks of it, roll in
it and generally love being out in the snow - it seems to act as an
energizing tonic for them! Whether you live in a city or in a rural
area, this is an activity you both can enjoy.
Remember that your dog may need to wear a cozy coat in the colder
weather just like you. Boots may help protect her pads from ice,
especially if her paws are sensitive and her pads are not tough and
calloused. And dogs who tend to be arthritic seem to benefit from
exercise year-round, another good motivator to stay active regularly in
the colder months.
Winter comes every year whether we like it or not, but that doesn't have
to mean hibernation or lack of exercise for you and your dog. Be
creative in designing fun and healthy activities that you can enjoy with