Exercising Your Dog in the Winter

When it’s cold – I mean really cold! – you aren’t as motivated to walk your dog! Heck, your dog might not even want to be outside.

Still, it’s difficult to live with a rambunctious pup who’s not getting the exercise he needs when the temperature doesn’t get above zero all month. Anyone dealing with that right now?

Here are some ideas to help exercise your dog when the weather is … well, brutal.

I’ll break this up into:

  • outdoor exercise
  • indoor places you can visit and
  • indoor exercises at home

Exercising your dog outdoors in the winterdog in winter

1. Walk with your dog for just 15 minutes.

I know, it sounds awful. Walking in this kind of cold?

Of course, you have to consider your individual dog. A Chihuahua probably can’t handle it. But just about all other breeds can, even shorthaired breeds like pitbulls, Boston terriers, boxers and vizslas.

If you can only head out for 10- or 15-minute walks, try using a dog backpack with a small amount of weight. It will help burn some energy and give your dog a job. You could head out for three or four 10-minute walks. Better than nothing.

Just walk around the block a couple of times. You can always dart back inside if it gets too cold.

2. Use a long lead and let your dog run somewhere safe.

This is a good option if you have access to an open field or park. If you have your dog on a 30-foot lead or longer, you can let her run around like crazy while you stand there all bundled up. Even 15 or 20 minutes really helps get some of that energy out!

Indoor places you can visit

1. Pet-friendly stores

Try visiting dog-friendly stores like Petco, PetSmart or The Home Depot. A 20-minute walk around the store will give your dog plenty to sniff and focus on and at least get him moving out of the house.

2. Sign up for a dog training class

Going to a weekly indoor obedience class or agility class is a nice option in the winter, and these types of activities often leave a dog even more tired than a walk would.

Indoor exercise at home

Sometimes there’s just no way you’re heading out. I get it. For those extra cold days, here are some ideas for entertaining your dog in the house.

1. Play “find it” games

Ask your dog to sit and stay. Then, hide treats or a highly valued toy (tennis ball??) under some empty boxes or randomly throughout the house. Release your dog and ask her to “Find it!”

Another option is YOU hide and then call your dog to come find you.

2. Invest in a used treadmill

If you already have a treadmill, have you considered training your dog to walk on it? Another option is to find a used treadmill on Craigslist. The key is to introduce your dog to the treadmill slowly. Start by having him stand on it while it’s OFF.

Other indoor tips:

  • Work on Nose Works or obedience training for 10 minutes here and there
  • Buy some interactive toys like treat dispensing toys or puzzle toys
  • Play tug of war!

The key with all of this is to mix it up and use several ideas. If it hasn’t been above zero all month, you can still try to get out for  a couple of short walks and maybe visit a dog-friendly store.

All the small things add up and make life with hyperactive dogs at least manageable in colder climates!


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