Start a New Exercise Plan with Your Four-Legged Friend

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Provided by Prince William County Animal Services

Thinking of starting a new exercise plan for the New Year?  Why not include your dog and embrace the cold and stay active together!

The winter season brings cold temperatures, snow-covered landscapes and a desire to cozy up indoors. However, just because the weather has turned chilly doesn’t mean you and your furry friend should hibernate until spring arrives. In fact, winter can be a fantastic time to bond with your dog and stay active by embracing outdoor activities. Exercising with your dog in the winter not only keeps both of you in shape physically but also provides mental stimulation and strengthens the bond between you and your canine companion.

Dress Appropriately:

Before stepping outside, ensure that your dog is dressed for the weather. Consider investing in a warm, waterproof coat or sweater for your pup, especially if they have short fur. Most dogs are kept indoors, meaning they haven’t grown a thick winter coat. It takes it getting progressively colder for a full winter coat to come in properly and for those pads to toughen up. With regards to those pads, you’ll want to protect them from the cold and potentially harmful substances like ice melt by using dog booties or applying paw balm.

Go for Winter Walks:

Walking is a fantastic low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed year-round. Bundle up and take your dog for brisk walks in your neighborhood or explore local parks and trails. Be mindful of any icy patches and adjust your pace accordingly. Take time to experience the beauty of the winter landscape together.

Try Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing:

If you’re looking for a more adventurous way to exercise with your dog in the winter, consider snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. These activities provide a great cardiovascular workout for you and burn off energy. Make sure to choose dog-friendly trails and keep your pup on a leash to ensure their safety and the safety of wildlife.

Engage in Interactive Play: 

Don’t let the cold weather deter you from playing interactive games with your dog. Indoor activities like hide-and-seek, tug-of-war or teaching new tricks can keep both of you entertained and mentally stimulated. Puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys are also excellent options to engage your dog’s mind and provide a fun challenge.

Indoor Agility and Obedience Training:

Set up a mini-agility course in your living room or basement using household objects like chairs, broomsticks and hula hoops. This can be a great way to keep your dog active and mentally engaged when outdoor exercise is limited. Additionally, winter is an ideal time to work on obedience training and reinforce commands that will benefit your dog’s behavior and safety.

Stay Safe:

While embracing winter activities with your dog, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Keep an eye out for signs of cold stress in your dog, such as shivering, lifting paws or seeking shelter. Limit exercise in extreme cold and consider shorter, more frequent outings instead.

Remember, the key to exercising with your dog in the winter is to be flexible and adapt to the weather conditions. Pay attention to your dog’s needs and modify activities accordingly. Whether you’re enjoying a snowy hike or engaging in indoor play, the most crucial aspect is spending quality time together and keeping both of you physically and mentally stimulated. So, embrace the cold, dress warmly and make the most of the winter season with your beloved four-legged companion!

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