It can be tempting to remain indoors and less active during the winter months. However, it’s still important to keep your dog or cat active even during colder months to help stave off boredom, strengthen your bond together, and maintain a healthy weight. Here are some tips to keep moving this winter!
Take a Walk Outdoors… but Bundle Up as Needed
There’s still an opportunity to take a shorter walk or jog outside with your dog. If he or she has short hair, consider putting a coat on them. Some other factors to consider when deciding on a coat are if your dog is a small breed, a senior dog or puppy who may have trouble staying warm, or “low riders” whose stomachs are closer to the snow and ice. You may need to shorten walks and your dog’s outdoor exposure depending on how cold it is, so it’s important to pay close attention to your pet to make Keep in mind that salt or chemicals used to treat sidewalks for ice and snow can be harmful to a pet’s paws, so think about getting a pair of booties and always wash their paws when you get inside to remove any residue from the treated pavement.
Still stuck inside and looking for ideas? Keep your dog in another room and then hide a toy in a separate room. Then, let your pet loose to try and find the toy. Start with hiding one toy and then, as your pet catches on, hide more toys for him or her to find.
Learn New Tricks
Learning a new trick is a fun and productive way to keep pets engaged indoors and is also a good way to bond with your cat or dog! Using a few treats as a tasty motivator, start with a simple dog trick, like “stay” or “shake,” then work up to something more complicated like “roll over.” Keep the training sessions to about 15 minutes so your pet doesn’t get overfed or disengaged.
Explore New Activities
Embrace the colder weather and hit the trail! Hiking in the winter is scenic and relaxing. If you’ve never hiked before, start with easier trails and work your way up to more difficult hikes. Use caution if the weather is icy and snowy by sticking to flat trails, and always cover a distance comfortable for your dog.
Winter is a great time to enroll in agility classes, which teach dogs to navigate a course of obstacles by jumping over or running through them. Most locations have training centers that offer a variety of classes, or, if you have the space, you could create your own agility course at home.
For cats, consider purchasing a new cat tower or toys to keep them jumping and playing all winter long.
Plan a Play Date
If your dog gets along well with other dogs, consider heading to the dog park for a brisk meetup with other neighborhood pets. Some playtime with a canine friend can stimulate your dog both mentally and physically.
Consider Therapy Dog Training
If your pet has the right temperament to be a therapy animal, winter is the perfect time to consider training. It will not only get you and your pet out of the house, but it will also help make a difference in the lives of others in need for years to come. Learn more about becoming a therapy animal by visiting PetPartners, an organization dedicated to touching lives and improving health through the power of therapy animals.
Whatever activity you choose to stay active, remember that the colder temperatures can be harmful to your pet, so monitor the weather carefully. Keep an eye out for any signs that they are too cold, such as shivering and lethargy, and remember that certain breeds or body types may be uncomfortably cold before others. Outdoor cats should have the option to come inside or have some shelter outdoor shelter with bedding as a warmer retreat. Follow these tips to ensure your pet stays safe and healthy all winter.