The winter months can make regular exercise more of a challenge for people, let alone their pets. But it’s important to keep your dog active year-round to make sure they’re happy and healthy. Here are some tips on how to prep your dog for winter, and fun ideas on indoor and outdoor activities.
What to Do Before Going Out
Paws for a Second
Does your dog have what it needs for the cold? If you live in an area where ice and snow are treated with salt, you might want to protect your pup’s paws. There are a variety of products for dogs such as wax and booties that can protect their paw pads. It may take a little trial and error to find what’s right for your dog. After outdoor activity, check for large salt crystals between their pads, and wash your dog’s feet or wipe them down with baby wipes.
Everyone Have Their Coat?
Just because a dog has fur, doesn’t mean they’re ready for the elements. Breeds with undercoats will generally do fine, but other dogs may need a coat or sweater for the colder temps. Make sure your pet has the right outer wear. A waterproof jacket will keep the wet snow off their body, but a sweater will breathe more. Remember to get one that fits well and won’t obstruct your dog’s movement.
Are You Ready?
You’re going to be outside, too, so don’t overexert yourself in the cold. Make sure you’re checking in with your body just as much as your dog’s.
Take It Inside
Some dogs love the cooler temps while others do not. If your dog is shivering, whimpering, or giving you the body language that says they’re over the cold, it’s time to go back inside.
Activities for You and Your Dog
Reinvent the Classics
Fetch is a whole new game when you add snow! Let them chase down their favorite ball in a winter wonderland, and even make snowballs into temporary fetch toys—just make sure they’re not packed too hard. In deep snow, you can lose a ball, so try a flatter toy or something with rope on it.
Hit the Trail
Take your dog on your next winter hike or snowshoeing trek. Stick to dog-friendly areas and stay out of snow that is too deep. Make sure to bring water—dogs get thirsty in the cold.
Perfect Day at the Park
Your local dog park can feel brand new with a bit of snow. Plus, cooler temps might mean fewer dogs and more room to run for your pup.
Get to Class
Winter is the perfect time to sign your dog up for a training class. Exercise their body and mind, and maybe they’ll even meet new friends. Or set aside time every week for training your dog at home.
Step It Up!
Turn your household stairs into a game of fetch, or run up and down the flight to get both of your hearts pumping.
Rotate the Toys
Try out new toys to keep your dog active indoors. Treat-dispensing balls and toys can get dogs to work while rewarding your pet for challenging themselves.
It’s a Date!
Get in touch with other owners that you know and host a play date. It’s a great way for the dogs to play and socialize, and you can take turns hosting with other owners.
A Dog Nose
Play a game of Find It around the house. Hide small treats around a room of the house and have your dog use its keen sense of smell to find the goodies.