Winter dog walks aren’t always enjoyable, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Getting through the winter can prove challenging – mucky paws, muddy boots, torrential downpours. As dog owners, we know it’s our responsibility to walk our pooches come rain or shine. Getting some fresh air and strolling in the great outdoors provides important mental stimulation and exercise for your dog (and for you as well!).
Although the temptation to stay curled up with your pup and a blanket is pretty strong, it is important to get up and stay active with your pup. There are a few easy ways to stimulate your dog physically and mentally to make the winter months fun for you both.
Winter gives dog owners a great opportunity to work on training activities. Mentally stimulating your dog through the winter and reinforcing training exercises is a great activity that benefits the whole family. Whether you work on how to greet strangers or implement a whole new array of tricks to show off at the dog park, the downtime of winter is the perfect opportunity to train with your dog.
Food and treats can be a great reward system. The simple act of eating can also be turned into a beneficial activity that your pup will love and look forward to. There are plenty of toys that can be used as feeding tools. They make accessing the treats a problem that your dog needs to solve. The mental stimulation and physical activity that results from this will only benefit them, especially in the winter
If your dog loves the outdoors, it can be hard to get them to stay inside. If that is the case, it is important to make sure they are warm enough to enjoy their time outside without experiencing the harmful effects of the cold. Here are a few ways to keep your dog active and exercising throughout the winter.
THE DOG PARK
If the weather permits, take your pup to their favourite park to romp and play with their friends. As long as your dog and you are kept warm and comfortable then maintaining your usual visit to the dog park throughout winter is a great way to exercise and socialise.
A Sniffari (sniffing safari) is a scent walk where your dog’s nose takes the lead. This way of walking mentally stimulates and enriches your pooch, as dogs rely on their sense of smell to piece together the environment around them. Running out of time for a walk because it is getting dark? Even a short 20 minute sniffari can provide fun mental stimulation for your dog.
Limited daylight hours – Safely exercise with your dog
If walking your pup in pitch black doesn’t sound appealing, try some of the tips below on how to exercise safely with your dog as the sun goes down.
Being pulled along by your over-excited and straining pup isn’t that much fun. We’ve all been there, but it’s important to teach your dog to walk properly on the lead, especially in the dark. Training them regularly during daylight to walk on the pathway and not stray off the kerb will make your night-time walks much safer for you and your pup.
If fetch is your pup’s favourite game then high-visibility toys will entertain them no matter how dark it is. These light-up and glow-in-the-dark toys make it easy for your to dog to find them meaning you won’t lose another ball!
STICK TO THE PATH
Choose paths lit up by streetlights. It is easier to see where you’re going and there are less trip hazards.
Choosing the right gear for exercising in the dark with your dog makes an evening run a whole lot easier. Make sure your dog (and you) are visible. Fit your dog with a reflective collar and lead. And make sure you wear a hi-viz jacket too!
Tips for exercising senior dogs in cooler months:
A drop in temperature can be hard on older dogs who suffer from arthritis. It can stiffen their joints. Aged dogs still need regular exercise, which promotes good circulation, helps manage their weight, and keeps their muscle strength toned. Just be mindful not to overdo it. Keep walks to 20 minutes or less and stay on even ground. Puppies are also more sensitive to the cold. Younger pups and older dogs will benefit from a waterproof dog-coat or jumper to protect them from the cold when they go for walks.
It’s also a good idea to have a pre-winter check-up with your senior pet to make sure they are in the best shape possible to handle the colder months.