Let’s face it – come winter, a lot of us get lazy. We’ve dealt with three major holidays at this point (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) and we just want some time to relax. The problem with this is that, with our laziness comes our furry friends’ lack of exercise and play time, and frankly, it is unfair to them. Luckily for us, there are tons of fun ways we can get out and help our pooches exercise while still relaxing and enjoying ourselves this winter.
Below, you will find five of my favorite winter activities to do with my dog, and hopefully they’ll soon top your list, as well!
Scavenger Hunt – Most dogs, mine included, have a great sense of smell. You have food in your hand? He’s there in two seconds flat. You’ve petted another dog hours earlier in the day? He’ll sniff you constantly and won’t leave your side. Sometimes, his nose may seem like a nuisance – but this winter, put it to use! Snow is the perfect hiding place for almost anything – treats, toys, tennis balls. Hide these items all over your yard and see what motivates your dog. He’ll get plenty of exercise running around, he’ll get to eat treats and play with toys – he’ll have a ball (literally). You’ll get exercise yourself finding hiding spots for the items, and the best part is, it’ll be a riot watching him find everything. Just don’t get too generous with the amount of treats you hide…running around the yard is only so much exercise…
Fetch (Winter Style) – Whether you throw a stick, a ball, a toy, or even just pretend to throw something, chances are, your dog is going to chase it. Dogs thrive on playing “fetch” because not only is it fun for them, they also get to be in control on when they give the item thrown back to you. This winter, put yourself in control and have your own fun – throw snowballs for your dog to chase. Just don’t expect him to bring them back to you, though I’m sure he’ll try.
Interval Training – I know, I know, I can almost hear you cursing me as I write this. But interval training has some amazing benefits for both you and your four-legged friend. Firstly, it matches (or even sometimes increases) calories burnt, both during and after your workout, in a much shorter time than a low-intensity workout. Second, it helps aide fat loss and builds muscle for a more toned physique. And third, it helps build stamina so you don’t constantly dread your daily walk/run with your dog. Do intervals of 1-minute of high intensity to 30 seconds of low intensity. For the high intensity intervals, do sprints, obstacles, hills, etc., and for the low intensity, slow down to a walk on flat ground. Be careful to only do this for 15-20 minutes or so, though, so as to not overwork your pooch!
Snowshoe – Most dogs love the snow, and if you live in an area that gets slammed with snow during the winter, snowshoeing is a perfect way to get outdoors and active with your dog! If your dog is healthy, snowshoeing shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure you protect his feet from the snow and keep him warm. Try Kurgo’s North Country Dog Coat – it’ll keep your pup nice and cozy with its waterproof exterior and interior fleece lining, and it has flashing LED lights so you don’t have to worry about losing him when it gets dark!
Sledding – This one is perfect if you have young children. Sledding in the winter is one of the best parts of childhood. Make it a new experience this winter and upgrade to dog-sledding. You’ve heard of the Iditarod, right? Well, most of us won’t be racing our dogs across frozen terrain in Alaska, but we can set up our own courses right in our back yards! Set up a short course and have one dog pull a small child, or, if you have multiple dogs, have two or three pull an adult to get yourself in on the action! Just make sure you don’t strain your dog by making him pull too much weight for too long.
What you do with your dog this winter is your choice. I hope these tips are helpful in your winter-festivities-planning, but no matter what you choose to do, just make sure you put in the time to keep your dog happy and healthy this winter!