Winter is not the best season to exercise your dog outdoors. However, your dog still needs to exercise daily to maintain his health and stay happy. A lack of exercise can lead to several problems including destroying furniture, chewing on costly items, hyperactive behaviour, increased anxiety, increased aggression and many more behavioural issues.
Here are 8 creative ways to help your dog feel and look great this season:
1. Classes For Dogs
Classes are great not only for your dog because he will get to exercise but also because it will allow him to socialize with other dogs. So many types of classes are offered. If your dog likes water, sign him up for a swimming class. If your dog really likes the company of other dogs, flyball could be a great dog sport for him . If your dog likes to watch “Dancing With The Stars”, he may like a canine freestyle dance class. Obediance, training and indoor agility classes are other great options as well.
To do so, you can look up for a local indoor pet center. Dog gyms offer several classes and ways to exercise your dog. They are also a nice way to meet other pet owners and their dogs.
These games are usually played outside, but why not bring them inside. If you have enough space in your house, these can be a great way to help your dog stay active. If your space is more restricted, a hallway can do the job. Get into the game by throwing his favorite toy or ball and race with him to get it instead of just watching him chase for it. Ideally, try to pick out a soft toy or soft ball. This way, both of you will have lots of fun without breaking any valuable items.
Tug-of-war is a really fun game to play. No equipement is needed except for a rope or an old piece of cloth. It can be very good to help your dog learn self-control. However, you have to be conscious that this game can be risky. It may bring out aggressive behaviour in your dog. A relationship of trust and respect must already be established in order for you to enroll in a this game.
Stock up on really good treats to prepare to play this game. If you have kids, the whole family can take turns playing the game by hiding in various places in the house. The hiding person will have to call the dog by his name. Once the dog finds the hiding person, the person can reward him with a treat. Your dog will get a good deal of exercise this way and you two will get a chance to bond even more.
4. Get Your Dog on the Treadmill
What happens when your in a hurry and you don’t have time to take your dog out or play with him indoors? You get your dog on the treadmill, if you own one at home. Treadmills are a wonderful way of getting your dog to exercise indoors and when you don’t have much time to devote to him. If it’s his first time on a treadmill, you will have to let him get used to it by setting the machine on very low speed at first. Once he gets the hang of it, you can increase the speed. Give him treats once in a while to motivate him to stay on the treadmill. Once he gets used to the speed, increase the difficulty level by gradually increasing the speed to make it more challenging for him. This will reallly give him a good workout.
If you don’t own a treadmill and think your dog would really like walking on a treadmill, you ought to know that there exists on the market, treadmills that are specifically made for dogs. The advantage of owning a dog treadmill is that it is smaller, so it takes up less space in your home or appartment. Nevertheless, never force your dog to stay on a treadmill. If he doesn’t seem to be enjoying it, there are plenty of other activities he can do and will enjoy.
5. Scavenging hunt
Your dog’s natural instinct to hunt can be put to use with this game. Make him hunt for his meals in the house by throughing his food piece by piece across the room. He will have to use his scavenger nose to go find him. You can also start by placing food in places where he will easily find it and as he gets better, you can increase the difficulty by hiding it in more difficult places to make it more challenging for him.
6. Use Food Dispensing Balls and Food-Puzzle Toys
These are two other great games to make your dog work for his food. All you need is a food dispensing ball or a food-puzzle toy. You add treats into these toys and your dog has to work hard to get them out. They are dishwasher safe and they often feature a number of difficulties depending on the brand you buy. Not only will this make him work physically, but it will be a very good mental exercise.
7. Create an Obstacle Course
Setting up an obstacle course for your furry friend is a great way to challenge him mentally and physically. You can use so many things you have around the house to build one: cushions, blankets, chairs, a hula hoop and many other things. Create a tunnel into which he can run and other small obstacles over which he can jump or scootch. Reward your dog with a treat to encourage him.
8. Organize a Play Date
Doggie play dates are another great way to keep your dog entertained and moving. Invite over a friend’s furry pal and have them hang out for a couple of hours. Give them a couple of squeaky toys and they will have lots of fun together. Be careful to move any valuable items for this play date since having two dogs play together can get a little rough!
So for this winter, when the weather makes it impossible for your dog and you to go have a walk outdoors, try one or more of these tips indoors to make sure he stays fit all winter long. Do you have any other inside activities to add to this list to keep your doggie happy and healthy during winter?
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE THERAPIST
Denyse Lessard is a therapist in alternative medicine.
She has an extensive educational background and has earned multiple degrees, including diplomas in Chinese medicine, Reflexology, Naturopathy & Iridology, and Homeopathy. She is also a member of the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec, and the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec.
When working with her patients, Denyse believes in not only helping pets achieve optimum health, but keeping them in tip-top shape for their entire lives.