With the wintry weather well on its way, it’s about time you were thinking of new ways to keep your hound entertained throughout the colder months.
With days growing shorter and nights longer – keeping a doggy active can be a challenging feat. But winter doesn’t have to be dark and dismal. With a bit of creativity, you and your favourite four-legged friend can stay healthy despite any adverse weather conditions.
A lack of exercise during winter can lead to weight gain and all of the health problems that come with it. Not to mention they might soon become bored and restless.
You owe it to them to keep them healthy and happy, so without further ado, here are some fun seasonal activities to keep things interesting, both indoors and outdoors.
How Do I Entertain My Dog Indoors
- Keep mealtimes interesting
Feeding is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a doggy daytime schedule. So why not make it a little more fun for them? Dinnertime is a great opportunity to use up a doggy’s mental and physical energy.
Hide some treats around the house, and get them to sniff them out. Alternatively, you can place their food in a different place entirely and encourage them to work out where it is. After all, challenging a dog’s mind can tire them out as much as a long walk.
- Play hide and seek with them.
Make things even more exciting for Fido, and get yourself involved. Throw a treat into a room to distract them, and then hide somewhere else in the house while they try to find you. They’re bound to love it!
- Create an indoor agility course
Think outside the box and gather what you can: chairs, brooms, blankets, hula hoops, or anything you’ve already got in the house. You can train your dog to navigate their way through a DIY obstacle course – they’ll be occupied for hours.
Just make sure it’s stable enough not to fall over or that they are things that you don’t mind being knocked over as your dog works their way around.
With enough practice, who knows where it could lead? By the time spring comes around, you could be entering your hound into an agility competition!
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- Try some obedience exercises.
There’s no better time introducing obedience exercises than during the winter months, especially when the weather’s looking a little glum outside. Besides, basic obedience skills can work wonders for a canine’s cognitive and social skills.
Remember that 10 minutes a day is the optimum amount of time to introduce exercises – any longer, and they might get bored. It’s also important to use positive reinforcement wherever possible.
- Play some indoor fetch
An obvious one, but a classic activity that can be played both indoors and outdoors. Play it with their favourite toy, and use the full length of the room. Just make sure to move your valuables safely out of the way!
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How Do I Entertain My Dog in the Winter
Winter is the ideal season to change your routine for you and your pet, so use the opportunity to think of new ways to keep them entertained. The cold weather isn’t all doom and gloom, you know!
- Take your scavenger hunt into the garden.
If there’s snow on the ground, don’t be put off. Snow is the perfect place for hiding treats – plus, you’ll get to test your dog’s tracking abilities. As they run around, play with toys and discover tasty treats, you’ll get to see their problem-solving skills at work.
Whether you’re hiding their favourite toy or a snack – the combination of a mental challenge, delicious snack and playtime will keep them entertained in the snowy outdoors.
- Take a trip to the doggie swimming pool.
Yes, these do actually exist! Do some research and find the nearest hydrotherapy centre near you. Treat your dog to some doggy paddling, whatever the weather! For larger breeds such as Newfoundlands that are more accustomed to swimming, this is a great activity to keep them active and stimulated.
It’s also a great full-body exercise that doesn’t put a strain on the joints, so if your dog suffers from arthritis, hydrotherapy is an ideal winter activity to consider. Arthritic symptoms can often flare up due to the colder weather, so it’s worth keeping in mind.
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How Do I Walk My Dog in the Winter
There’s nothing better than spending time outdoors with your dog. So wherever possible, this is always the best option to keep both you and your pup healthy and happy. However, there are some precautions worth taking to stay safe.
- Keep walks brief and brisk.
When the weather’s not so inviting, keep dog walks short. Make sure you know where you’re going beforehand and power round to get your heart rate up.
A good rule to live by is that if you’re cold, your dog is probably feeling it too.
- Change up the route
Why not strike out on a different route to keep things exciting for your dog? They’ll love taking a turn down a not-so-familiar path. Just make sure you have it planned before you head out and that you avoid any frozen lakes or bodies of water.
- Make sure you’ve got the right gear.
If your dog has short fur, it might be sensible to consider getting them a dog coat or even some dog boots to protect their paws from frostbite.
- Don’t leave them alone when outdoors.
Keep an eye on your dog at all times when stepping out into the extreme cold. This is particularly important when visibility is poor – make sure they’re close by at all times.
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- Consider their health, size and breed.
Not all breeds are suited to outdoor activities in the winter, and even hounds with the thickest coats can be vulnerable to hypothermia.
Keep a close eye on small and medium-sized dogs in the winter weather, and remember that some breeds struggle when the temperatures drop, such as Whippets and Greyhounds.
Older dogs, puppies and those suffering from health problems are also sensitive to the cold. Keep a close eye on them, and watch out for telltale signs such as shivering and lethargy. There are always plenty of other non-outdoor activities to keep them stimulated when it’s cold outside.
- Check for cold damage after a walk.
The smallest breeds can be prone to getting antifreeze stuck between their paws, so remember to check their four footpads after a winter outing. If you’re having doubts, consider some of the various indoor exercises available.
For some creatures, winter is a time to curl up and hibernate. Dogs, however, need to be kept mentally and physically active throughout the year. Use the winter months wisely, and you won’t run the risk of a bored pooch!