Keeping your dog active in winter

During colder months, it can be tempting to hibernate at home with your four-legged friend, especially during current stressful times. However, exercising your dog during winter months is important to keep them active and healthy.

Even a short walk or run around a park or garden can help with mobility and help to reduce the chances of any unwanted weight gain.

In winter, like us, pets tend to spend more time inside, due to colder temperatures and as such may move less. During winter months if dogs are inactive but consumer the same amount of food or more, this could lead to unwanted weight gain, which in itself can lead to further health problems, such as arthritis.

Even if you’re unable to go outside, we share some ideas to keep your dog active:

Embrace the cold

Most dogs are happy to go out come rain or shine. If you do take them outside on a winter walk, be sure to keep them warm. Some breeds can cope with colder weather more than others, such as Newfoundlands and Leonbergers. For smaller dogs and short haired breeds, you could use a coat to keep them warm.

If you are able to get out of the house for the government approved exercise, use it to walk your dog. Use your local park or even just walking around the block will give your dog some much needed exercise, as well as allowing yourself to get some fresh air. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines of keeping two metres away from other walkers and only walk your dog locally.

Use your local park

Use your local park or even just walking around the block will give your dog some much needed exercise, as well as allowing yourself to get some fresh air.

Interactive toys

Interactive feeding toys are a great way to help your dog burn extra calories. These can be used in the home for days when they really don’t want to face the cold. They can also be used to keep them occupied and prevent boredom if they have to be left home alone for short periods of time.

Make your dog uses his nose

Hide your dog’s favourite treats around the house in accessible places and make them work for their food. This helps to keep them physically and mentally active. Be sure to include any treats in their usual daily calorie intake to prevent weight gain.

Use your stairs

If your pet would prefer to stay in the warmth, use your stairs for an indoor workout. Put your dog on their lead and walk up and down the stairs. Be careful if your dog is older and has joint problems, they may not be able to climb stairs as well as younger pets. Only do this if you dog is happy and able to do so and be sure to supervise them properly to prevent any injury. Don’t let your dog get too over excited as they may fall or slip and cause serious injury.

Teach them some new tricks

Despite what many people think, it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Getting your dog to perform new tricks and actions can keep them active and their mind stimulated. Use their favourite treats to encourage them but be sure to limit treats and include them in their daily calories if they are not moving as much.

Training not only gives your dog the chance to be active, but it also keeps them mentally stimulated and is a great way to help you bond with your pet.

Create an obstacle course

If your dog is mobile and you have the space in your home, create an obstacle course using furniture for your dog to run around, jumping over and going under tables and chairs. Be careful not to use rooms with wooden floors as this could cause your dog to slip and fall while they are running around. Use treats each time they complete it to keep them entertained and not get bored.

Jumping

For more mobile dogs, you can use objects such as hula-hoops to get them moving. Hold it just off the ground and encourage your dog to jump through. Once they have mastered it you could increase the height off the ground. Be sure to give them lots of praise and encouragement.

Tug of war

Using rope toys, tug of war with your dog is a great way to tire them out. However, this game could bring out the predator side of your pooch, so be sure to remain in control and take breaks during the game to ensure they don’t get aggressive.

Consider their age

Older dogs may suffer in the cold more than younger dogs. Bear this in mind when on walks or during exercise, don’t push your dog too much if they are struggling. Be sure to consider their age and ability when planning activities. For walks, little and often may be better for their joints and if it’s too cold, be sure to wrap them up using a doggy coat or jumper.

Consult your vet

If you are worried about your pet’s health in winter months or concerned about your pet’s weight, speak to your vet. Always consult your vet before starting your pet on a new exercise routine. They will be able to offer advice on what activities fit best with your pet and their health and age needs.