As every dog owner knows, it’s always a little trickier to exercise your pup in the winter months. The days are shorter and the weather is colder — not to mention that many pups will simply avoid going outside when it’s raining or snowing! But even though there are fewer outdoor activities for you and your dog to enjoy during the winter, exercise is still essential for your dog’s mental and physical health. This is true even for senior dogs who may not be as mobile as they once were, so it’s important to find ways to keep your dog active during the colder months too.
Fortunately, there are many toys to keep your senior dog occupied, and many indoor and outdoor activities you can still do together. From fun indoor training sessions and indoor agility courses to immersing yourself in the great outdoors, here are Dog Quality’s favourite cold weather activities for senior dogs.
Indoor Winter Activities for Senior Dogs
Many senior dogs prefer not to go outside during the winter, not just because they don’t like the cold but because it aggravates their arthritis. Taking your senior dog for walks during the winter can also be dangerous due to slippery roads and sidewalks. If your senior dog struggles with mobility issues or chronic conditions like arthritis, it may be best to stick to indoor activities.
1. Teach Your Pup a New Trick
Never got around to teaching your dog to roll over or shake a paw? Use the winter months to finally train your pup to do some crowd-pleasing tricks. Teaching your old dog new tricks isn’t just for show — it improves your connection with your dog and helps to keep him mentally engaged. Stimulating your dog’s mind also uses up some of that extra energy he likely has from spending more time indoors, so use those long winter days inside to your advantage. Use plenty of treats, keep sessions short and praise your dog when he gets the trick right. Soon enough, he’ll have every trick in the book mastered.
2. Set Up an Indoor Agility Course
If your senior dog is still quite active, give her the opportunity to burn off some energy by building an agility course in your home. Use blankets, chairs, pillows or any other props you can find around the house to make the course, and then train your dog to navigate her way through it. Agility courses do double duty as both a physical and mental exercise, making sure your pup stays entertained during the winter.
Dogs love to hunt for things, so why not use your time inside to play a fun game of hide and seek? Distract your dog by tossing a treat into another room, then hide and wait for your dog to come find you. Make sure you have a reward for your dog when he finds you! Hide and seek is a perfect indoor activity for dogs of all ages.
Outdoor Winter Activities for Dogs
If your senior dog is still physically active, there’s no reason not to get outside with your pup this winter. However, depending on how chilly it is in your area, you may wish to dress your dog in a sweater or coat to keep her warm. For older dogs who get tired, a dog stroller is a great way to get your dog outside without pushing her behind her physical limits.
1. Play Fetch in the Snow
Some dogs go absolutely nuts for snow and will take any opportunity to frolic around in the dusty white stuff. If that sounds familiar and your dog is up for that kind of physical activity, bring his favorite ball and play fetch in the snow. Keep your playtime short to avoid overexertion and to keep him from getting too cold. Chances are he’ll get tired faster playing in the snow than he would otherwise.
2. Go for a Winter Walk
For those who aren’t up for a super active game of fetch, walks are still an excellent way to keep dogs active during the winter. Find a new trail to explore and go for a leisurely stroll through a winter wonderland. If your pup has short hair, keep her warm with a sweater, coat or booties. If she gets tired on longer walks, use a dog buggy like our Dogger stroller, so your dog can rest while still enjoying the fresh winter air. A stroller can also help prevent injuries from slipping on icy surfaces.
3. Create a Snow Maze
If you get a good snowfall, a fun way to give your dog exercise outside in the winter is to make a snow maze in your yard. Grab a shovel and clear a narrow pathway through the snow, creating twists and turns to keep it interesting for your pup. Then let your dog loose and watch her navigate her way through the maze. It’s another winter activity for dogs that’s both physically and mentally stimulating.
What are your favorite ways to exercise your dog in the winter? Want to learn more about our complete line of products for senior dogs? Check out the entire Dog Quality collection.