Keeping Your Dog Active And Athletic During The Cold Winter Season
With the winter season comes the cold and frigid winter weather. Winter is a beautiful season, but the cold temperatures and bone-chilling winds are typically not ideal for most people or dogs. Despite the chilly, unpleasant weather, our dogs still need regular exercise in order to stay healthy and avoid gaining excess weight. This blog will discuss a variety of different fun, inexpensive, and effective indoor playtime exercises that you can do with your dog to keep them both active and entertained.
Exercise #1 Running Up And Down The Steps
A classic yet simple game that many of us have probably played as a kid is the old “Running Up & Down The Steps” game. This exercise only applies to those who have a decently long staircase in their house, but it’s very effective in quickly tiring out your dog. It’s also recommended to do this exercise with a carpeted staircase making it easier on your dog’s paws and decreasing the chances of them slipping and falling. The game itself is pretty self explanatory, but we’ll cover the basics. While standing at the top of your staircase, toss a toy or ball down to the bottom of the staircase. Naturally, your dog will run down the steps to chase and retrieve the toy or ball. Ideally, your dog brings the toy or ball back up to you at the top of the staircase. Repeat. If your dog is good at consistently retrieving toys or balls, then this is the perfect indoor exercise for them because each throw results in two sprints (one descending and one ascending). The elevation of the steps is what really makes this a great workout for your dog as it will make your dog use different muscle groups compared to sprinting on flat surfaces like the backyard or sidewalk. We don’t recommend using this exercise if your dog has joint problems or has trouble getting up and down steps in general.
Exercise #2 Obstacle Courses
The doggy Olympics are here! This winter try making a DIY indoor obstacle course for your furry friend! It’s surprisingly simple and relatively inexpensive as all you need is some furniture, blankets, and pillows/cushions. Start by making some tunnels by lining up two rows of dining chairs back-to-back (leaving enough space in between for your dog to safely run through) and draping a large blanket over the top of both sets of chairs. This will create a dark tunnel-like appearance and feel for your pooch to run through. Next, create a hurdle for your dog to jump over. Something as simple as a footstool or similar shaped object will suffice. Place one or two of these relatively close to each other and encourage your dog (treats are a great motivator) to jump over the hurdles. Then, another great obstacle to throw at your dog is a crawling exercise. Using a coffee table or similar low table, have your dog crawl from one side to the other. Crawling not only works different muscle groups, but also engages and entertains your dog compared to typical walking or running. After the crawling exercise, implement a “zig-zag” obstacle course by setting up a row of small objects (chairs, pillows, boxes, etc.) for your dog to run and navigate through. The ultimate goal is to have your dog zig-zag through the obstacles all the way down the line. Using treats or playing “follow the leader” is an excellent way to encourage your dog to follow this zig-zag line to the end. Lastly, you can implement the use of running up or down an indoor staircase into your obstacle course. As mentioned previously, going up or down stairs provides a fantastic workout for your dog because it works a variety of different muscle groups. Get creative and use your imagination to make your furry friend a homemade indoor obstacle course with the various furniture, blankets, and pillows you have lying around the house. You just might end up having more fun than your dog!
Exercise #3 Hide & Seek
Another classic childhood game you can play indoors with your dog this winter season is hide & seek. There are two great ways to go about playing hide & seek with your dog. One; hide several treats throughout your home while your dog waits in another room. When you’re done hiding the treats, give them full roam of the house and watch as they search every nook and cranny to find the tasty morsels you’ve hidden from them. The second method is to hide yourself! Have your dog wait in a room by themselves or with someone else who lives there. Then go hide somewhere (behind a door, under the bed, etc.). Once you’re hidden, call out your dogs name and see if they can find you. Sometimes the most obvious places make the best places to hide. This is a simple, yet engaging way to play and interact with your dog while giving them a chance to burn some calories and energy by running around the house searching for you and/or treats.
The Bottom Line
Daily exercise is essential to both you and your dog for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Both physically and mentally, your dog needs regular stimulation to avoid excess weight gain and other potential health problems. Buying the best foods, treats, leashes/collars, and toys are important, but they can’t replace good old fashioned exercise. Although the cold winter weather makes it difficult to be outside for very long, your dog can still get plenty of much needed exercise indoors. Whether it’s hide & seek, DIY obstacle courses, or just running up and down the steps, your dog can get all the exercise they need with just a little creativity and imagination on your part. We hope these examples of indoor doggy exercises help keep you and your dog healthy and well entertained this winter.