Rain or shine, your dog needs daily exercise whatever the weather. But in the dead of winter, sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to go – combined with bad weather, at times it’s impossible.
If the wind, rain, snow, or ice keeps you from safely walking your dog this winter, not to worry – there’s still some things you can do to help maintain your dog’s mental and physical wellbeing. Here’s a few of our favourite winter exercise tips for your dog.
Hire a dog walker
If you or an elderly family member is concerned about potential injuries from falling on ice or snow, it might be worthwhile hiring a dog walker to get you through the winter months. Local dog walkers will come and collect your dog, walk them, and bring them back home on a schedule that suits you for a modest fee – a great solution if you’d like someone to take over for a month or two while walking in winter weather conditions is more hazardous.
Let them out to play
An outdoor space where your furry friend can run around is an ideal alternative if you can’t get out on a walk. If you have a back garden your dog can go outside to play in all the better, but even a walk up and down your front walkway for a few minutes can help them get some fresh air.
Play a game
Playing a game with your dog is a great way to help them get active and mentally engaged around the home. When we’re busy we don’t always make time for fetch and other games, but spending 30 minutes in focused game play in lieu of a walk is a great alternative. Try a game of hide and seek – throw a treat in the opposite direction and then run and hide while your dog is distracted. Then call them to come and find you – it’s great exercise and also a fun way to practice following commands.
Try the treadmill
Do you have a treadmill at home just gathering dust? Why not repurpose it for your dog – spend one or two days familiarising them with how it works and slowly work up to walking on it for ten, twenty and even thirty minute blocks. It might not be as stimulating as a walk outdoors, but is a good alternative to expend some energy when going outside isn’t possible. There are also smaller, more specialised dog treadmills available for purchase that can be useful if your dog spends a lot of time alone during the day – this is an expensive solution however, so unless it’s something you feel you’d regularly use, it may not be worth the investment.
Top up your training
The winter is a great time to send your dog back to Puppy School. Indoor training centres offer great programmes to top up behaviour of both dog and owners, and are a great way to get your dog active and interacting with other animals. Some training centres even offer classes where dogs can go and play and be active one or several times a week.
Make dinner a challenge
Dogs have a great sense of smell and are incredibly motivated by food; use this to your advantage and turn their daily meals into a challenge. Toys and puzzles that utilise food are a simple and inexpensive way to turn dinner into a stimulating game for your dog. Putting their food into a Kong toy or creating your own homemade obstacle course out of cardboard boxes is an ideal activity on a day when you can’t make it out for a long walk.
Do you have any winter exercise tips for your dog?