5 Tips for Exercising your Dog in the Winter
Today’s post is from guest blogger Jonathon Ensor, who shares some tips about making winter exercise more manageable for you and your dog.
Exercising our pets outdoors in temperate climates is generally a treat for everybody involved; our furry friends get to expend some energy, and we get to give our heart-rate a bump. In the cooler winter months (especially if cooler means snow, ice, and frost), taking our pups outside can be less than motivating for countless reasons. It didn’t take me long to realize that hibernating in the winter with an energetic dog (or two) is impossible and not healthy for me or the dogs. After years of experimentation, I have come up with this list of my top tips for making winter exercise not just bearable—but enjoyable as well.
1. Protect Sensitive Paws
One of my two dogs has sensitive footpads, so running outside in the colder months was uncomfortable for her. Snow, rock salt, and unforgiving low temperatures put a swift halt to our daily walks and occasional runs. After trying a myriad of solutions, my wife brought home a pair of Muttluks, and our family hasn’t looked back since. These little gems have lasted us 3 years now, and I see no signs of them being retired anytime soon.
While many dogs are fine without paw protection, some (like ours) genuinely benefit from it. There is a relatively impressive variety of types and styles of booties for dogs out there, so find the one that works the best for your situation. If your dog refuses footwear entirely, try Musher’s Secret (essentially, a wax coating that helps protect the footpads).
2. Keep the Mess Outside
The winter and spring seasons, coupled with one or more sets of paws, can take a toll on flooring, especially carpet. It seemed inevitable that the dirt and grime held captive in the snow and rain would inadvertently hitch a ride on the dogs and find itself a new home as a stain on our carpets. Don’t let dirty paws deter you from exercising your pet outside.
The first move we made was to invest in some stain resistant carpet. This made a world of difference in our home and (for us) was worth every penny. Other less expensive options that we’ve used included towel-drying our mutts from head to toe BEFORE they were allowed inside and restricting the dogs to the portions of our home with hardwood floors, which are much easier to clean than a carpet.
Despite the fact that it’s cold outside and there is water (in various phases) covering everything, I still make sure to bring along drinking water for both myself and the dogs. Going for long walks or runs can still potentially dehydrate everybody involved, despite the chilly conditions, so be proactive and bring your own H2O.
4. Choose Toys Wisely
It only took me a couple winters to realize that I could probably supply every Wimbledon tournament for the next decade with the amount of tennis balls that we lost in various snow banks. Additionally, it turns out that nothing gets more matted than a plush toy covered in slobber and frosted grime. During the winter months, consider using a Frisbee, a fluorescent rubber ball, or even a good old fashioned stick (it’s the simple things, really). Toys like this are easier to keep track of (and clean off — save for the stick) and are generally pretty weather resistant.
5. Respect the elements.
For those that are committed to getting in outdoor exercise year round, don’t forget to respect the elements and adjust routes and pace as conditions require. There is actually something quite serene and beautiful about running with your dog in the snow. But be careful to watch for slippery spots and monitor wind chill conditions to ensure that your outdoor activity is safe and injury free.
If Old Man Winter brings snow to your neck of the woods, don’t let it put a complete damper on your outdoor playtime. Do you have some tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.
About Jonathan Ensor
Jonathon loves his wife, his corgis, and occasionally growing a beard. When he’s not doing his home-reno or honey-do’s, you can find him writing about the best things in life.Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!