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How to Keep Your Dog Active in the Winter

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In order to maintain both physical and mental health, it’s important to stay active year-round. Even if you and your pooch prefer to cozy up indoors during the cold winter months, be sure you’re both still finding ways to get moving. 

Keeping your dog active is important for several reasons. Regular exercise wards off weight gain; it can also help to release any pent-up energy, which could lead to anxiety and destructive behavior. Plus, winter activities are a great way for you and your furry friend to spend some quality time together!

Don’t Quit Your Daily Walks

Don’t let the cold weather stop you from taking your dog outside for his daily walk. That said, you may need to take some additional precautions before heading out the door—especially if you’ve got a pet who’s more susceptible to the cold, such as a senior dog or a dog with a thin coat

Some dogs benefit from an extra layer; it may be worth bundling up your pup in a dog jacket and some winter dog boots to protect him from the elements. 

Additionally, try to schedule your walks for when the sun is out for added warmth. 

Play in the Snow

Instead of hiding from the winter weather for several months at a time, try embracing the elements instead.

Play fetch in the snow using brightly colored toys, balls, or frisbees. Keep in mind that it’s harder for your dog to sniff out objects in the snow, so you’ll want to make them easier for him to see. You can even get creative by playing fetch with snowballs—just make sure they’re light and fluffy to avoid any injuries. 

If you have a yard or access to a park with plenty of space, you can also create your own snow agility course; agility or obstacle courses are a great form of both physical and mental exercise. Use a shovel to make a snow maze filled with fun twists and turns, tunnels to squeeze through, and snow piles to jump over. You could even have Fido look for a hidden object using nose work, keeping in mind that the snow is sure to provide an added challenge. 

Bring Your Dog on Your Winter Outings

If you’re into winter activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and hiking, you may want to consider bringing your dog along for your next winter adventure. It’s a great way to expose him to new sights, sounds, and smells, while also providing plenty of exercise and bonding time. 

Make sure you know your dog’s limits; if you’re planning to spend an entire day in the cold, it may be best to leave Fido at home. Of course, you’ll also need to ensure that you’ve selected a pet-friendly trail or park, and keep an eye out for any potential hazards. 

Indoor Activities for Your Dog

Sometimes the weather outside is just too frightful, and it’s best to hunker down indoors. Even on snow days, though, your dog still needs to get his fix of physical activity. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to wear out your dog indoors. Some of our favorites include: 

  • Visiting an indoor dog park.

  • Taking a class together, such as dog yoga—or doga. Look for classes available near you, or try at home in the living room. Just remember to be flexible (literally and figuratively), as your dog may have his own ideas of how he wants to play on the mat.

  • Playing hide and seek. Teach your dog to “stay” while you choose a hiding spot, and then call his name to encourage him to come to look for you.

  • Climbing stairs. Depending on your dog’s age and joint health, you can encourage him to exercise by walking or running up and down the stairs in your home. Going up and down steps requires more coordination than running in a straight line, so it can be a good form of both physical and mental exercise.

  • Playing tug-of-war. Tug-of-war is a great way for your pooch to ward off boredom and release some pent-up energy; it also helps him with building confidence and learning self-control. If your pup is getting too aggressive or possessive, though, you’ll need to take a break.

  • Creating an indoor agility course. If you’ve got the space for it, turn your living room or basement into an obstacle course for your dog using household items such as pillows, cushions, and boxes. Hide a treat or toy somewhere in the agility course for an added incentive. 

While you provide your pup with year-round exercise, promote his joint health with Pet Honesty’s PureMobility chews. Formulated from natural ingredients, these chicken-flavored chews provide connective tissue support, ease joint stiffness, support a healthy inflammatory response, and more.