No matter how hearty and fun-loving your dog is, as a pet parent you know there will come a time when it’s just too cold, snowy, icy, wet or windy for your pup to comfortably exercise outdoors. When the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside delightful, it’s important to find ways to help your dog stay active indoors where it’s safe and warm.
PetMd recommends dogs get 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity every day, with the specific amount that’s best for a dog depending on her age, size, breed and overall health. Pets who get plenty of exercise are happier, healthier and less likely to engage in destructive behaviors like chewing.
We’ve come up with five tips for helping your dog stay active indoors throughout the winter:
Play fetch indoors
Your dog’s favorite game doesn’t have to be just for outdoor fun. Indoor fetch toys like soft balls or flying discs allow your dog to safely exercise her body and her retrieving instincts indoors. Be sure to select soft toys plushy items will be less like to cause damage in the house. Score bonus pet parenting points for tossing the toy in such a way that your pooch gets the extra exercise of navigating a furniture obstacle course to retrieve it!
Hide and seek with a twist
You loved this game as a kid and your dog will too. Sneak off to a far part of the house and call her name. She’ll love the mental challenge of hunting for you and the sense of victory when she finds you – and you make a big fuss over her for it!
For even more fun, take along a toy that features a squeaker to help the dog find your hiding place. You can also hide a favorite toy and encourage her to find it. Reward her with pats and praise when she brings it back to you.
Twice the treat
Every dog loves a treat, but just as you’re susceptible to packing on pounds during less active winter months, your pooch can be at risk for weight gain, too. This doesn’t mean no snacks at all, just be sure to work in some exercise and double the enjoyment by making your dog work for a reward. Try a puzzle toy to provide fun mental brain exercise and bust boredom.
Walk in a winter wonderland
A dog’s tolerance for cold temperatures depends on many factors, including her size, breed and personal preference. A big dog with lots of hair will probably be better equipped to handle cold better than a small, short-haired pooch, but you know your dog best and you can tell when it’s too cold outside for her. Use common sense; keep your dog (and yourself) off ice and out of deep snow during walks, and bundle her up in a warm sweater and booties if she needs them. Since evenings and nights are darker in winter, use a reflective collars and leash to help make your dog more noticeable in the dark.
Cater to comfort, too
Everyone experiences the winter blues from time to time, during the winter months, when you’re stuck indoors. The climate and atmosphere can affect your dog, too. Be aware your dog may need some extra comfort and safety measures to weather the winter. Just as you dress her in a warm sweater for outdoor playtime, your dog may appreciate a warm, snug bed during the winter.