Welcome to winter, where the days are short and the air is bitterly cold. Even though you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to get more active with your pet, it can feel impossible to find the motivation for pet exercise this time of the year. The great news is, you have options whether to exercise inside or outside. Here are our go-to winter exercises that benefit both you and your pet:
Indoor Exercises With Your Pet
- Tug-of-War: The classic game for relieving your dog’s boredom is also a great indoor exercise that exercises body as well as mind. We definitely recommend that you keep space clear around the game to prevent injuries, and if your dog has dental concerns it’s probably best they don’t play this game.
- Climbing Stairs: Do you have stairs at home? Use them for pet exercise! You can feel like Rocky Balboa—every person’s dream, to be sure.
- Swimming Classes: It goes without saying that the pool should be inside (and heated, we hope), but swimming can be a great way to get your dog moving in winter. The bonus is that with the increased resistance of water, a 15-minute session is akin to 15-minutes of fast movement on land, but without the stress and strain on joints—making it a great pet exercise for older dogs or those suffering from joint issues.
Outdoor Exercise with your Pet
- Walks: Did you know that most bigger dogs actually enjoy the snow? Getting outside for your normal walk in freezing conditions has its own health benefits for you, but snow and cold also provides a better workout for your pet. A half hour of plowing through snow provides a wonderful workout for the heart and muscles! A note: to make sure your pets stay warm enough, we recommend multiple shorter walks, especially in the harshest of temperatures.
- Fetch: Fetch works just as well in the winter as in the summer, but to be honest, you’ll be warmer outside if you’re also moving. If you’re going to play fetch in snow, go with a bright-colored ball or toy that won’t get lost.
- Skijoring: This is probably the most interesting winter outdoor pet exercise you’ve never heard of. It’s a combination of skiing and mushing, where the dog is harnessed and pulls the pet parent while he or she uses the skis and poles to keep up momentum. Obviously, this is for dogs over 30 lbs. only, and takes some serious getting used-to by your pooch. Check out this article for more on how to get started with this activity.
Of course it goes without saying that before you tackle any new type of pet exercise, make sure your pet’s up to the challenge. Always start slowly and work up to more or longer exercise periods, and consult your vet for any special needs or advice for your own pet. And be sure to look out for signs that your pet might be getting too cold, which means it’s time to end the activity and head inside. Have fun and stay warm out there, and as always share with us your own experiences with winter exercise!