It’s February, and the cold can feel like it’s never-ending, even if it isn’t snowing. Your dogs haven’t had a decent walk in weeks, or that’s what it feels like! They’re going stir-crazy, as are you, but taking them out in the icebox doesn’t really help because they don’t actually want to be outside in it. Here are some ideas from Dr. Issam Kadri at Richmond Hill Animal Hospital to stay sane and to keep your dog active in winter.
Doggie Day Care
Ok, this is an obvious one, and of course it isn’t for everyone. Very young puppies, senior dogs and those who have difficulty socializing won’t enjoy it, but if your pet is comfortable mixing with other dogs a day or two a week at the day care will take the strain off you. Your dog will be indoors but will come home exhausted from playing and running around, and you might actually get a good night’s sleep.
Go for a Run
We’ve all seen Cesar Milan put dogs on the treadmill. It’s not something all dogs will accept, but if you start your pet off exercising while she is young enough to make it a game, you can get her used to it fairly easily. Begin by walking at the slowest possible speed, with the dog on leash beside you as if you were walking outdoors. Never, ever tie the leash to the treadmill, the dog needs to be able to jump off quickly if necessary.
Take a Road Trip
If you can’t take your dog for a walk or a run, try a road trip in the car. It doesn’t have quite the same exercise value, but certainly gives her mental stimulation. Drive out for an hour or so, look for a spot on the roadside where she can relieve herself and sniff around a bit, and it’ll be almost as good an outing as a longish walk for her.
Practice Indoor Training
Nothing keeps a dog mentally busy like a training session. Make a space by pushing all the furniture against the walls in your living room and setting up a training field on the rug. Spend an hour teaching your dog to sit, stay, come and fetch items. Hide a kong filled with peanut butter or another suitable treat behind some cushions and let her go and find it. Encourage her to jump through a hula hoop, or make a tunnel from a table covered with a blanket.
Use the Stairs
If your dog retrieves her ball, you can wear her out in no time by sending her running up and down the stairs. Stand at the top and throw the ball down, sending her to fetch it and bring it back to you. If she doesn’t want to fetch, you can achieve the same thing with treats. Throw the treat down and let her go after it. Then call her back up to you before throwing down another. This gives a workout to muscles that don’t get used during regular exercise, and makes the dog happy and ready to snooze.
For more information on how to keep your dog active in winter, please call us at 905-884-8477.