5 Ways to Exercise your Dog in Winter

Alpine Dog Co. ™

There’s nothing worse than an anxious, rambunctious, destructive dog in your home when the weather gets cold. Without long walks, hiking and running in their favourite park, how do you exercise your pup?

Most people hate the colder months, but many dog parents really hate the colder months. When they hear “winter is coming”, it means . Your usual routine of a long hike on the weekend, playing with neighborhood dogs in dog parks, or hanging out at the lake all come to a temporary close.

What’s so scary about this? Well, our dog’s energy doesn’t let up when the sunshine does - it remains alive and active. This can turn into bored, destructive behavior without an outlet for dogs to burn their physical and mental energy. Here’s the thing, it’s not our dog’s fault! Their need for purpose and activity doesn’t go away once it gets cold, so we need to get creative in order to exercise our pup - even in the rain or snow.

How do we make this happen? Don’t worry, we gotcha! Here are 5 ways to exercise your dog in the winter. 


Bring Fetch Indoors

Fetch is a well-known game that almost every dog loves. Even though you can’t pull out your Chuck It! Toy or Tennis Ball Launcher, you can still bring this beloved game in your dog’s life during the winter months.

Take a softer ball and clear a space in an open living room or long hallway. Grab your ball and throw it like you traditionally would outdoors. If you have a ton of valuables in your home or a small space, roll the ball on your floor!

If you’re busy at home for most of the day or night, get a ball that does the work for you! grab a Wiggle Ball that makes noise when it moves, or try a Interactive Ball that moves and shakes without anyone touching it. You can even get balls that have treats or smaller toys inside that motivate the dog to participate in independent play.


Exercise your Dog's Brain

Throughout centuries, canines have relied on their noses to survive and thrive. Dogs have used their nose to track down food, other dogs, predators, and to assess their surroundings and communicate. If you want to exercise your dog, start with their nose!

Using their nose, dog’s get mentally tired-out and physically exhausted. How do we take advantage of this biological trait in dogs? Here’s some options!

You can purchase dog puzzles which require your dog to sniff out treats and interact with the puzzle. These toys range in difficulty level and can work great for independent play. If you’re looking to not spend extra on a dog puzzle, you can make your own! Take a towel and wrap up treats inside. Put the towel down in front of your pet, and let them attempt to unwrap and find the treats inside!

You can also hide treats around your home, and encourage your dog to sniff them out and find them. You’ll be surprised how well your canine sleeps at night after these puzzles!


Take Advantage of your Stairs

Hey apartment peeps, we didn’t forget about you! If you have a small apartment space, take advantage of the stairs in your building. You can completely replace a long outdoor walk with an indoor stair hike, with less time and more results! Not only is this a great activity for your dog, but you can join in and work out alongside your dog.

If you own a home with stairs, the same thing applies! Put your dog on a leash and go up and down the stairs. It won’t take long before your dog is ready to lie down and take a long nap, we promise.


Tug of War

Ah, a classic game! Tug of war is an oldie, but a goodie. Head to the pet store and get a nice sturdy rope toy that will stand the test of time. When choosing your toy, try to pick something built with high quality material that won’t fray. Many vets warn about cheap rope toys, since they can be ingested by your dog and result in some stomach issues down the line.

Once you have your toy, show your dog how they can grab one side and you can grab the other! There’s nothing better than watching your dog play alongside you. If you have a backyard or larger open space indoors, you can burn energy quickly by using a flirt pole to encourage your dog to use their prey drive. This turns 10 minutes of backyard winter blues into a great way to get a tired dog. 


Train and Teach New Tricks

No matter how old or young your dog is, there’s always tricks to teach! We think the phrase “you can teach an old dog new tricks” is a myth and massive misconception.

Here’s some out of the box tricks you can teach your dog this season that you might not have heard of!

  • Shake
  • Speak
  • Play Dead
  • Take a Bow
  • Twist
  • Roll Over
  • Circle Me
  • Wipe your Paws
  • Wipe your Mouth
  • Bounce
  • Weave Polls
  • Through a Hole
  • Kisses
  • High Five

If you haven’t taught your dog “wait” yet, you should! This is an essential command that can seriously benefit you once your dog heads back outdoors in the summertime. You can teach this easy command while you feed your dog!


How to Teach Your Dog to Wait for the Food Bowl

  1. While your dog is sitting, hold their food bowl at chest level (with food in it) and say “Wait.”
  2. Lower the food bowl toward the floor slowly. If your pup remains sitting, click your clicker (or verbally reward) and feed them a piece of food from the bowl. If they get up, ask them to sit again.
  3. Repeat this step several times until they consistently remain sitting as you lower the bowl. Remember to verbally reward or use a clicker!
  4. Gradually move the bowl closer to the floor with succeeding repetitions until you can place it on the floor two feet away from them and pick it back up without them getting up or trying to eat it.
  5.  Finally, place the bowl on the floor and say a release cue like “Free!” to tell them to eat.

Congrats! You now have all the tricks to keep your dog exercised this winter. We hope these 5 suggestions make your journey this winter a little easier. If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to the team at Alpine Dog Co.!

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