How to Keep Your Dog Happy During Winter
With increasingly intense winter weather each year, many dogs owners have been finding it more and more difficult to safely walk their dogs outdoors. Unless your dog is built for the cold, many of them should not be allowed too long in the snow.
If you live in an area where there are snow storms and extreme low temperatures, the last place that your dog should be is outdoors. However, just because the weather is not forgiving, it does not that mean that the needs of your pet will change.
Being trapped indoors, especially for small homes, can be a nightmare for those who have an active dog breed. Most active dog breeds such as the terriers and shepherds were bred to be working dogs, which means that they are happiest when they’re out and about. For active dog breeds, a lack of exercise can lead to chaos, unnecessary aggression, and damaged furniture.
If you’re wondering how to keep your dog sane during the winter season, here are a few tips:
Play Time, Every Day
While there is hardly substitute for taking a long walk, a few minutes of playtime at various times of the day is good enough for most dogs. From chew toys, puzzle toys, talking buttons, and balls, there are plenty of things that can keep your dog intellectually stimulated indoors.
Alternatively, play time can also be training time for your dog. Start by teaching your dog basic commands such as sit, stay, and rollover. Then, you can proceed to do more things like hide and seek, tracking items by scent, and playing fetch. By giving your dog a healthy outlet for their energy, they are less likely to be destructive.
Aside from exercise, playtime is an important aspect to building a strong relationship with your dog. Regular play time can help build trust, familiarity, and routine that is necessary for your dog to feel safe in your home.
Visit Indoor Dog Parks & Schools
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because your dog shouldn’t be allowed outdoors. These days, there are many options for furparents who want to take their dogs to indoor spaces such as indoor dog parks and agility training centers.
Aside from exercise, sending your dog to training classes is a great way to help them build lifelong skills and intelligence. Whether it is an obedience class or obstacle racing, there are so many benefits to having your dog experience indoor dog parks and schools.
In addition, puppy socialization is crucial for puppies to grow up happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. Ideally, puppies should be exposed to other dogs between two to four months old so that they can develop their social skills. Puppy schools are a great way to make sure they meet other dogs in a safe, supervised manner.
Adjust Their Diet
A lack of exercise with the same amount of food leads to excessive energy that will lead to weight gain if left unchecked. While a few extra pounds is not so bad to help dogs keep warm, too much may lead to being overweight or obese.
Dogs that weight 10-20% more than their ideal bodyweight are considered to be overweight. If they weight 20% more than they are supposed to, they are classified as obese. Obesity in dogs can cause several other illnesses that range from mild discomfort to possibly lethal. From possible damage to joints, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, there are endless reasons to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
To prevent this from happening, provide a nutritious and balanced meal that will keep them satiated for longer. When purchasing kibble, check the nutritional labels for real ingredients such as meat or fish, USDA certification, and free of fillers such as corn or soy. Additionally, avoid feeding them high calorie treats and opt for more healthy, natural treats instead.
Plan for Short Outdoor Playtime
While not all breeds can stay outdoors for too long, a few minutes during a relatively warmer day can do so much for their mental health. Besides temperature, other factors such as precipitation and wind speed help determine how cold it really is.
Elderly dogs, young puppies, and dogs with critical illnesses that affect internal temperature regulation should never be allowed outdoors. If you are not sure if your dog breed is suited to cold weather, you may also invest in snow gear which can help them maintain their internal body temperature easier.
In their excitement, many dogs may wander off into areas that may be unsafe such as road sides or areas where wildlife is present. Other than the cold, your dog may also experience illness due to accidental ingest poisonous anti-freeze or polluted snow.
Lastly, make sure that you bring your dog inside as soon as any signs of sudden weather changes, danger, or hypothermia appear. Winter weather can be fickle, so it is best to keep dogs supervised when outdoors.
Bring Your Dog Happiness During Snow Season
Thankfully, this isn’t necessarily a problem for all furparents. There are many dog breeds born, bred, and acclimatized to colder climates. However, it is always best practice to always keep an eye out on your dog and not expose them outdoors for too long. While they may be safe from the cold, there are several other factors like predators, poisoning, or accidents that can still hurt them.
Also, there are several breeds such as Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, and Bulldogs which are being perfectly fine with minimal exercise and staying mostly indoors. If you are not sure if you dog will be able to handle the cold, there are plenty of ways to ease the stir craziness and still give your furbaby a great life indoors.
Aside from letting your dog a few minutes in the snow, you can play with your dog at home, bring them to indoor dog parks, or send them to school. If you can’t do these often, make sure to adjust their diet to avoid too much weight gain.
With so many types of dogs in the world, there are so many variations for how much cold they can handle and exercise they actually need. With this, you’re the only one that can determine how much they truly need to stay at a healthy weight and be happy.