Each year, when the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, it no doubt becomes difficult to keep up with your usual level of activity and exercise. Snuggling with your dog while ensconced in a warm, flannel blanket and watching a binge-worthy Netflix series instead of braving the cold may be tempting throughout winter.
However, maintaining some level of activity and exercise during these frigid months is even more important for you in order to maintain your health, avoid weight gain and lift your spirits on those dreary, gloomy days. Of course, this not only goes for you, but also for your four-legged companion.
For those with furry children, here are four, fun activities you can enjoy together this winter to keep you both healthy, warm and entertained.
Always fun and typically free, hiking is an ideal winter activity and challenge for both you and your pooch. Indeed, the fresh air can invigorate you and provide a plethora of scents and snowy fun for your canine companion while you journey together in the great outdoors.
Considering a backpacking trip with your dog? Then it’s definitely important to plan ahead. You’ll want to know you and your dog’s limitations and research the path you plan to take. Forcing an out-of-shape dog up a difficult trail could prove fatal, so start with those trails marked “easy” or “beginner” in order to build up some stamina before tackling more challenging trails.
Additionally, you’ll want to verify whether pets are permitted on the trail before heading out. If that’s the case, be sure to pack plenty of water for you and your pooch (don’t forget a portable water bowl), as well as a first-aid kit.
2. Day Tripping
“Wanna go for a ride?” That magical phrase is music to any fur baby’s ears. A day trip to visit friends and family or to a nearby scenic or historic location would provide a fun destination for you while your pooch, with his head hanging out the window and tongue flapping in the breeze, would be all about the journey.
Of course, safety should always come first. Thus, anytime you travel with a pet, be sure you have everything you need to be safe. For a day trip excursion, the last thing you want is to end up stranded on the side of the road with your pet. With that in mind, make sure to get an oil change before heading out, especially if your car is overdue for one.
You’ll also want to ensure your vehicle can handle harsh winter conditions and has the proper tires to navigate through tough, snowy terrain. In particular, if you plan to buy a new set before venturing out, you’ll want to check whether your tires are the correct size as well as installed and balanced correctly.
The wrong tires could affect your vehicle’s handling and steering, and cause severe damage to your transmission. If your ride needs new tires, you can find great brands like Toyota through an online retailer like TireBuyer.com.
For snow bunnies with dogs, skijoring is a popular activity that offers a great workout for you and your four-legged buddy. In essence, skijoring involves you wearing skis, with your dog, tied to a lead and harness, runs ahead towing you along. It’s like cheating at cross-country, but any dog that loves to run in the snow will enjoy it. Training your dog only involves them picking up on simple commands to stop and turn.
Remember, though, that your pet’s paws are sensitive to both heat and cold. Most dogs will refuse to wear booties, as they often throw off their balance and coordination. So, to prepare your faithful friend for a skijoring outing, be sure to clip the fur between their toe pads. This will prevent or at least reduce the buildup of snow between their toes, which can chill them to the bone.
4. Animal-Assisted Activities
During the holidays, you may want to give back to others less fortunate — and one way to do so with your pet is to sign up for any number of animal-assisted activities. Oftentimes, dogs are welcome in non-rehab settings, including hospital wards or nursing homes to cheer up the patients and residents, respectively.
In fact, pet therapy can provide some much-needed happiness and relief to infirmed patients and residents, which will no doubt lift their spirits and break up the monotony during the festive holiday season. But first things first — you’ll need to get your pooch certified as a therapy dog before they’re allowed to visit any hospitals or nursing homes.
Though the cold, winter months may deter you from participating in certain outdoor activities with your fur baby, don’t let the harsh conditions slow you down. There are still numerous opportunities for keeping fit, bonding with your pet and beating the winter blues; you just have to make an effort and explore the possibilities.