Winter Exercise for your Dog

In Alexandria, VA, winter weather has arrived. And this means snowy, icy, and freezing temperatures. For those of us that don’t like this weather, our idea of spending time inside is more desirable. In the cold weather we are forced to exercise and find more activities to do indoors. What do we do with our favorite four-legged friends when taking them outside to play is just unbearable? Well, regardless of the temperature, dogs still need the exercise. Dogs need as much exercise in winter as they do in summer, so daily walks and outdoor play remain a must. Exercise is a vital part of any pet’s life, ensuring that they stay happy, healthy and fit and remain your best friend for many years to come.

During the winter months in Alexandria, we have to find creative ways to make sure that our pets get fresh air, good exercise and/or some outdoor time:

  • Protect their paws: Products used to clear ice and snow can be a real hazard for dogs. Rock salt and most chemical de-icers can irritate a dog’s paws and turn a winter walk into a painful ordeal. Stay away from heavily salted areas as much as possible when walking your dog. Then wash your dog’s paws with warm water when he or she comes inside. If you have a pet sitter, be sure they look after your pet’s paws as well.
  • Dress warmly: Consider buying a sweater or coat for your dog. Some smaller and younger dogs especially cannot handle the cold. Dogs with less fur may also feel better in a coat. Invest in a well-fitting coat that covers your dog’s back and it’s underside. (Fleece is nice!) So when you or your pet sitter head out for a walk, remember that fleece sweater!
  • Doggy Daycare: Doggy daycare is an excellent choice for dogs during the cold winter months. Your dog can get plenty of physical and mental stimulation because they are with other dogs and indoors. Luckily, Alexandria offers many doggy daycares; just check your local directory for one near you.
  • Interactive Toys: Toys for dogs are fun and help dogs to think creatively.
  • Treat-dispensing toys: Food-motivated dogs love treat dispensers. Instead of just giving your dog a treat, he has to work for it. Many of the toys have to be pushed to release the treats; others require chewing.
  • Training Class: January is “Train Your Dog Month.” So what better time to enroll in indoor training classes? Skills like agility and behavior training are often taught in heated facilities and provide excellent exercise for the canine body and mind—and you’ll enjoy them, too!
  • Hide and Seek: You can play hide and seek with your pet. It might take a little bit of time to make sure that your pet will understand the concept, but think of this all as quality time, and imagine all the pleasure and joy that will come from these hours of playing together.
  • Tug of war: great for physical exertion.

Giving your dog the right amount of exercise in the winter is really not that different than in the warmer months. You or your pet sitter will have to make some adjustments, but if you do it right, you and your dog will end up loving your new routine and winter!

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