With way below-zero temperatures, and fierce icy winds, it can be hard to manage the walk from the house to the car, never mind a long walk with your dog. In our last article, 6 Must-Read Tips on How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Winter, we shared the insider scoop on how to keep your dog safe and healthy through the long winter season. Some breeds don’t do well in the great outdoors when it’s cold out. What’s more, owners of breeds that do just fine outside in the cold sometimes just can’t bring themselves to brave the chilly weather and go for a walk.
Just like a freezing cold dog isn’t a happy dog, a stir-crazy or overweight dog isn’t a happy dog. So how can we keep our dogs safe, and in shape, without keeping them cooped up?
Indoor Doggie Play and training
Plain and simple, walking or running on the ice is dangerous. You and your dog could slip, leading to a bad break or painful sprain. Slip and slide is not a safe exercise activity. If you do have a thick-coated dog who can tolerate a winter walk, make sure to walk on a trail with more shelter from the wind and greater snow covering. Remember, for many breeds, long walks in the Arctic cold are still dangerous.
So what can you do to keep your pooch from going stir-crazy? The answer is a combination of indoor doggie play and training. Here are some of our favourite recommendations:
Dogs like a challenge, so why not challenge your pooch to a step class? If your dog is fit enough to manage going up and down the stairs, try teaching him or her to wait at the bottom while you proceed up the steps. Once you get to the top, invite your dog up the stairs. Then go downstairs, while your dog waits for permission to join you. This can be done be done with or without a leash depending if your dog is an enthusiastic beginner or an obedient pro.
Hide and Seek
Have your dog “sit” and “stay” in a room while you go hide somewhere else in the house. You can then summon your dog to come find you. Alternatively, have a second person wait with your dog while you hide and encourage him or her to search for you.
Playing fetch can be fun, but only when it’s done safely. Indoors, many things can get in the way as your dog eagerly chases the object you’re throwing. Make sure to use a large, open space cleared of things that can be bumped, banged and crashed into. To make sure your pooch doesn’t slide around you can put rubber mats down on the floor or gently toss the item you want your dog to catch and return.
If your dog is still working on the good, old-fashioned basics, you can make obedience training a game that keeps your dog active and alert. A simple routine of “sit, stay, down, stay,” can turn into a fun, educational doggie calisthenics class. Best of all, your dog will be brighter for it!
If your dog already knows the basics, challenge him or her to learn a new trick. This will help keep your dog’s mind stimulated and blood circulating. You can teach your dog to spin in one direction, then the other. Another new trick you can try is teaching your pup to back up, a skill that can actually be quite helpful on a day-to-day basis.
At the end of the day, regardless of their breed or coat, your dog will need some fresh air. Take a look at our last blog article to learn about how to keep your pets safe and warm when they’re out in the cold. Keep your walks short and if your dog doesn’t have a thick coat, remember you may need to invest in some doggie clothing. Whether you have a big or small dog, you’ll have to protect his or her feet not only from the ice, but from irritating salt and ice-melters.
Oh, and if you’re a cat-owner, remember your cat shouldn’t be let out in the bitter cold. All animal lovers should make sure to bang on their car hoods to make sure a stray cat isn’t hiding out under the car for warmth and shelter.
If you need help walking, training or boarding your dog, the team at Canine Nanny are happy to help. We also offer in-home kitty visits, perfect for you if you’re going on vacation or stuck during a long work day. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.