Dogs need daily exercise in order to remain healthy and happy. Without daily exercise, a dog can become stressed, seriously under-stimulated and even dangerously overweight. They may seek out other ways to dispense with excess energy, which can heighten your own stress when they whine, bark excessively, dig, chew, bite and play rough. This means that it is also in your best interests that your canine companion participates in some sort of physical activity and exercise every day, no matter the weather conditions outside.
How to Exercise Your Dog Despite Cold Weather
In many cases, dogs don’t have much of a problem going outside during cold weather. Snow can be an exciting new plaything, and they do have their own built-in fur jacket. That said, there are other dogs who are reluctant to step out in colder weather. Following are some tips for how to exercise your dog when it’s cold outside.
First of all, it is very important to speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s exercise needs. You need to learn just how long and strenuously your pet should be exercised on a daily basis, taking into account their age, overall health and general needs. Once you understand your dog’s basic exercise needs and limits, you can work on fulfilling these needs no matter the weather.
If your dog is reluctant to go outside in cold weather, you need to figure out ways to make the outdoors more appealing to him. This may include taking your dog to a local dog park, on a nature trail, or just in a different direction than is normal. Dogs are normally very mentally stimulated and excited by their environment, and a simple change of environment can make going outside even in cold weather more exciting. If your dog is friendly with other dogs, you may consider walking with friends or neighbors who also have friendly dogs, allowing your pets to stimulate each other while walking. Another way to make the outdoors seem more exciting and appealing to your dog is to introduce new toys or games for your dog to play while outdoors. It can also be very helpful to bring treats that you can use to reward your dog for their outdoor activities, reinforcing that cold-weather exercise is fun and exciting.
It may be that your dog is reluctant to go outside in cold weather because between the cold ground, snow, ice and salt they seriously hurt their paws, causing them to burn, sting, dry out and crack. To help with this you can purchase dog booties that protect and warm your dog’s paws, allowing them a better experience outdoors in cold weather. If your furry friend absolutely refuses to wear booties, you can also use petroleum jelly or protective gel on their paws. Whatever you use, make sure you wipe your dog’s paws immediately after returning home so they don’t lick their paws and ingest jelly, gel, rock-salt or de-icers.
Even a warm fur coat does not make your dog completely immune to the cold weather outside. You can help your dog stay even warmer by providing them with a water-repellant dog jacket or vest. This is especially highly recommended for puppies, small breed dogs and elderly dogs.
There are times when it is simply too cold to take your dog outside, and your own extreme discomfort with the weather conditions outdoors is often the best way for you to judge when this is. Some signs that your dog is simply too uncomfortable to be outdoors include shaking, continuously pulling their feet up off the ground and trying to pull back toward home. When this occurs it is best to return indoors and try out some alternative exercise options, like a small game of fetch or tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, and even playtime at indoor dog exercise facilities.
It may take more effort to exercise your dog during cold weather months, but it is well worth it when you end up with a healthy, happy dog and a happy home.