Dog Days of Winter
Winter is here and for those of us in the northern climates that means that snow, ice and COLD is here. This also means unfortunately for some owners their dog does not get out and exercise like it should.
Just because it is cold outside does not mean that exercising your dog has to stop. You just bundle up and still take Fido out for a walk, he already has a fur coat on. Now of course if it is not safe due to freezing temps like we had last week where the wild chill was well below 0 then of course one day of skipping exercise is OK just as if the temp was over 100 with 90% humidity. You do not walk your dog in extreme conditions. However for the most part, despite the weather your dog will still need some exercise. There are some alternatives!
Indoor dog parks – I am not a fan of dog parks, in general, for a variety of reasons, but for exercising your dog in the winter time it may be the only choice for some people. I would rather the dog take a risk of getting into a dog fight or catch a respiratory infection than to miss out on exercise the entire winter. A risk/reward decision needs to be made in that situation.
Underwater Treadmill – An underwater treadmill is expensive to purchase and to operate, however if no one is using it then it because even more expensive. That is why there are some dog physical therapy facilities that are giving great discounts to healthy dogs that are on an exercise program to use their equipment. Now a physical therapist is not going to be running the machine and there are some other technical things that need to be worked out between you and the facility but it may be a great way to keep your dog in shape in the winter.
A treadmill at home – A few of my clients have trained their dogs to using a regular treadmill that they have at home. Instead of it sitting there in the corner as a clothes hanger – your dog can use it to get their daily walk in. 20 minutes a day on the treadmill would be perfect. One of my clients has a Sheltie that will sit and bark at the treadmill in the morning until they turn it on. Once they do, the dog hops on and takes itself for a walk. Maybe it was a hamster in another life??
Lastly if you have a larger open area in your house like in the basement – you can take your dog and do some exercise like fetch or some simple agility equipment like weave poles. Your dog will not get as good of a workout but at least it is something, your dog will be up and moving and not just lazing around all winter. Now of course if you have a flight of stairs like mine and a crazy Border Collie – throwing the ball up the stairs and down the hall gets her heart rate going pretty well as she does it 10 to 12 times a session.
So even though it is winter do not forget to get your dog some exercise – those extra 2 to 10 pounds is better left off the dog than being put on because it is too cold to go for a walk outside during the next few months.