Story by contributing writer Lucy Wyndham
Winter in Seattle can be cold and snowy; and on the worst days, few things may appeal more than enjoying a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace and watching a good film.
Of course, just one look at Fido longingly begging for some time outdoors will probably melt your heart enough to put on your coat and take him for a walk. After all, it may be winter, but those muscles and joints still need to move (and we’re not just talking your dog’s). Follow these four tips for an energetic winter for both you and your pooch.
1. Getting Your Dog’s Swag On
In weather below 45 degrees, consider equipping your dog with a jacket and boots; snow and ice have a nasty habit of getting caught beneath the paws and between toes, which can cause frostbite. A jacket, meanwhile, will protect dogs with short coats (and those who are older or otherwise vulnerable) from from falling prey to hypothermia.
Make sure to buy a short lead for walking, leaving your flexi-lead for warmer months,
The snow can hide holes and crevices which your dog can fall into if you leave him free rein.
You can safely walk for around half an hour, though in blizzard-like conditions, keep the walk much shorter. Be careful that your dog does not get close to anyone’s driveway, to avoid toxic antifreeze and salt.
2. Making the Most of Your Snowy Yard
Playing in the yard is a different matter altogether to walking outside, since you know there are no level changes or gaps in your garden. Give your dog an energetic workout by playing fetch for a few minutes. Other good games include hide-and-seek, and even soccer! Some dogs really take to this game, but it does need training. Teach your dog to ‘kick’ the ball back at you instead of chewing it. Soon, your pooch may develop Messi’s shooting skills, which makes for great photo and video ops.
3. Indoor Games
On days when going out is impossible (or if your canine who pretty much refuses to spend more than five minutes outside), give your dog an indoor workout by playing games. Go to a clutter free area and stand at the opposite side of the room as someone else. Take turns calling your pooch and giving him a treat when he reaches you.
If your dog is agile and has no mobility problems, heart disease or other issues such as arthritis, you can throw his favorite ball up the steps and make him run up to retrieve it.
4. A Treadmill for Fido
If you have a gym and you use it, one piece of equipment that is worth investing in (for both you and your pooch) is a good treadmill. Dogs can burn all the calories they need to this way. One proviso is to test your dog’s interest on someone else’s machine beforehand. Some dogs take to it like a pro, while others hate it and refuse to get back on.
Keeping your dog active in the winter involves creativity, dedication, and patience. On good days, an outdoor walk is ideal, but even in the worst conditions, there are so many ways to get your dog’s heart racing within the comfort of home.