If your area has recently been walloped by snow or ice (or even just rain), you know one of additional challenges of winter weather is making sure your dog still gets enough exercise. Threats from snowdrifts, freezing temperatures and icy patches are good reasons to hunker down indoors.
However, a lack of exercise can have its own risks on your pooch as well, such as:
- Decreased obedience—dogs, like many of us, misbehave when they are bored. They may chew items, bark unnecessarily or use all of their excess energy in overly aggressive play.
- Increased weight—just like with humans, if your dog is eating the regular amount of food, but is exercising less, she will gain weight. And that’s not an infrequent problem. More than 50% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, and lack of activity in the winter only makes that worse.
Regular exercise can help improve your dog’s obedience, help your dog’s digestive system and provide a great bonding time for the two of you. But how can a dog lover work that in when the ground is covered in snow?
If the weather is truly too frightful to be outside (Winter Storm Jonas, anyone?), create opportunities for intentional play inside. Set up an obstacle course for your pet with pillows and blankets in the family room. Play hide and seek around the house. Teach your dog a new trick to engage his or her brain.
Quick Trips Outside
Exercise doesn’t have to mean hours outside. If one 30-minute walk is too daunting, three 10-minute walks spaced out during the day can reap significant benefits. Just make sure your pet is prepared for the weather with a sweater and boots. Take care that your dog does not get trapped in a snowdrift, or venture too far away from you and get lost. A winter wonderland can be disconcerting to your dog, making the neighborhood look unfamiliar. Be sure to wipe your dog’s paws off—especially if he or she didn’t wear boots—to remove any salt or deicing chemical residue they may have stepped in. Also, give your dog a good rub with a soft towel to make sure its coat is dry. The lower to the ground the dog is, the more exposure to snow and ice they’ll have.
Out of the House, but Not Outside
Not all trips have to be outside. If the roads are clear, pack up Fido and go on an adventure. Make a doggy play date or go to a pet friendly store.
If your dog needs even more activity, consider a doggy daycare, where they can be stimulated and enjoy activities with other friendly dogs. Dogwood Veterinary Hospital & Pet Resort, for example, provides a cheerful environment where your dog can burn off energy in group or independent play. Indoor play spaces let your dog stretch its legs when it’s too miserable to venture to the outside play areas.
If your dog is getting stir crazy this winter, and you’re looking for a fun and safe option, call our Doggy Daycare at 919-942-6330 to learn more. We work in the Chapel Hill and Pittsboro areas!