As the saying goes: ”winter is coming!” It really is! So what does this mean for your dog? Many of our four-legged friends love nothing more than flying through some big old puddles and having zoomies in the rain and snow. But some really struggle with all aspects of the winter months. So how do you keep your dog entertained? Well hopefully, we may be able to help you with our winter exercise tips for dogs…
If it’s not possible to do your usual long dog walks, keeping your dog’s mind stimulated is absolutely key during winter months. Without keeping their mind active, it can sometimes lead to destructive behaviours at home (well, their energy must go somewhere!) So the first of our winter exercise tips for dogs has to be brain games!
Thankfully there are plenty available on the market these days (or you can even create your own!) For example, place three paper cups in front of your dog and hide a ball underneath. Can they find which one is hiding the ball?!
Rather than feeding your dog normally, you could also sometimes try using snuffle mats or Kongs to hide treats or their dog food. These help your dog to forage for their food and really use their brain to reach the food.
Hiding your dogs favourite toy around the home or under a blanket can be so much fun! Encourage them to find it (without teasing them) and let them really relish the joy of finding their toy and playing with it. Interact with your dog during play time too (e.g. tug of war) or where possible, throw their favourite ball along a corridor. Just spending some time on their level, investigating their toys can be lots of fun for dogs. If you show an interest, they’re more likely to be tempted to join in or start a game!
AGILITY AT HOME
Depending on the size of your home (and the size of your dog), another of our winter exercise tips for dogs includes being a little creative & establishing your own mini agility / obstacle course at home. Dog agility doesn’t necessarily mean running around fast. Just helping your dog to focus on something new and use their brain in a different way can be equally as tiring. You can either invest in some agility equipment for the home or you could use household items to create your own. Why not grab some cushions from your sofa & create a little “slalom’ path for you & your dog to navigate together?
The aim of such games is FUN! Engage your dogs attention with some high value treats or a favourite toy and encourage them to join you as you weave through cushions or balance on one for a few seconds! If they haven’t done anything like this before (or even if they have) patience is important. Let them see what you’re doing and have lots of fun trying it out together. If agility at home isn’t possible, why not see if there are any local dog agility classes you can join too.
EXPLORE THE GARDEN
The opportunity for fun with our dogs in the garden can sometimes be overlooked. Why not set up a fun treasure hunt in your garden for your dog? You could hide a favourite toy or a high-value dog treat. Encourage them verbally to explore. Give them an easy one to begin with, so they get the idea and then expand to some trickier ones if you want to. As above, the aim is to stimulate their mind and have some fun. It also encourages movement so joints etc don’t become too stiff.
You may have read our previous blog post about creating a dog-friendly garden. This included planting some plants or herbs, which may be beneficial for their sensory stimulation. You can read this here. Why not help your dog explore these and your garden in general too. If your dog sees you outside, they’re more likely to want to remain out there too (rather than running quickly back inside once they’ve gone to the loo!) So dust your coat off and pace around with your dog for a short while. Let them explore and enjoy some fresh air together.
LOCAL DOG CLASSES
One of the fun parts of walking your dog can be the interaction with fellow dogs and their humans. During the winter months, you and your dog may be missing this interaction. Another of our winter exercise tips for dogs includes finding out if there are any local dog classes nearby. Dog classes don’t always have to be ‘puppy’ classes. There are many different opportunities available. Instead, classes may give you and your dog an additional opportunity to socialise. Classes will also help utilise your dog’s brain by engaging in training. Remember, brain games can be very tiring for dogs, so this could be ideal!
INDOOR EXERCISE AREAS
The number of enclosed exercise areas for dogs are rapidly expanding across the UK. Is there are an indoor one local to you? It might be worth a quick internet search to find out. This could also give your dog an opportunity to socialise, without the fear of becoming too cold. You might even make some new dog friends!
SHORTER WALKS CAN STILL BE FUN!
Winter doesn’t mean all walks should stop. Far from it. Yes, it may not be quite as tempting to head outside with your four-legged friend when it’s freezing cold, but all walks shouldn’t necessarily stop for winter (even if your dog wants them too!) Consider some shorter walks, more frequently instead. Let your dog really explore the area with their nose too. Walking doesn’t always mean going on the longest route but instead, encourage your dog to enjoy some extra sniffing. As with some of the indoor game suggestions above, apply those to your walk by hiding a ball or treat for them to find.
If your dog has a short coat, consider buying a winter coat to keep them warm. Also, be aware of salt on the roads which can lead to sore paws. Always rinse your dogs feet when you return home to avoid any issues and consider using a Paw & Nose Balm to reduce irritation. On particularly cold days, if you are venturing outside, try to do so at the warmest part of the day rather than early morning/late at night.
Giving your dog opportunities to move about and use their joints and muscles is really important as they can become particularly stiff during the winter months. Remember, we also offer some additional supplements which can help with mobility over this period, such as Cod Liver Oil Tablets, Turmeric Tablets and Glucosamine & Chondroitin Tablets, as well as others. Our advisors are on hand to help you.
WINTER EXERCISE TIPS FOR DOGS – ARE YOU READY?
Hopefully our winter exercise tips for dogs has helped you prepare for the next few months. We’d love to see how you help your dog enjoy the winter months. Tag us in your Instagram posts & stories or share photos on our Facebook page / group. We’d love to see you!
Find out more about Dorwest Herbs and our herbal remedies for dogs to improve their general health. If you have any questions about your dog’s diet, one of our experienced advisors would be happy to help. Please get in touch on 01308 897272 or use our contact form. Plus, get free UK delivery on orders over £50.
Please remember, you should always consult a vet if you are concerned about your pet’s health.