It’s that time of year again, winter in Edmonton.
With the winter months comes snow, ice and cold. That can be challenging for any dog owner, especially if you have smaller breeds or any short coat breed dog that does not do well in the cold.
So, how do you keep your dogs active when the temperature drops?
Unfortunately, dogs are not like bears who can just hibernate and sleep until winter is over. They still need to be active and some dogs can become destructive if they are bored.
While temperatures like -30 degree Celsius mean you can’t take your dog out for a full hour, you can instead take them for short and more frequent walks.
You can go up the street and back, or depending on your dog and their tolerance to cold, try and go around one block. Then, come back, warm up and go around the block again. You can even turn into a challenge where you time yourself and see if you can beat your previous time.
Make sure to protect your dog from the elements as much as possible by having them wear booties and a jacket (unless you own a breed such as a husky which are built for the cold weather).
As any dog owner knows, getting your dog bundled up to go out in cold weather is a big task all on its own. You could even turn it into a game to see how fast you can get your dog bundled up to go outside.
Canine Enrichment Activities
Do you just hand feed your dog treats? Or just put their food in a bowl?
There are now many options for canine enrichment where your dogs need to work at getting their treats or food out.
One the best options is putting a treat, peanut butter (100% natural peanut butter only with no xylitol) or some of their food in a Kong and let them work at trying to clean it out. A great challenge (and great if you have a teething puppy), is to throw it in the freezer beforehand and then give it them.
Along the same line of a Kong are Tumbler treat balls where you put in treats in it and your dog needs to roll it around to get the treats out. Some dogs will figure it out right away, some dogs will growl in frustration at it. There are dogs who will take it up the stairs and throw it down the stairs to get the treats out.
Another great canine enrichment tool are snuffle mats. Snuffle mats look like mini shag rugs that you can hide treats or kibble in and your dog needs to dig around and find the treats.
Another awesome canine enrichment tool is to use a slow feeder to feed your dog.
Slow feeders are also a great tool to use if you have a dog that eats too quickly as it forces them to slow down to eat.
The great thing is that there are many different options and games you can get for your local pet stores in Edmonton to keep them entertained in the long, cold winter months.
If you’re looking for a DYI enrichment game for your dog, you can hide some of their treats or kibble in a muffin tin, place tennis balls on top and let your dog find the treats.
Canine enrichment activities not only provide physical benefits to your dog, they provide much needed mental stimulation as well.
There are many great natural chews for your dog that will be able to keep them busy for hours. Bully sticks are not only a safe and all natural treat, they are great for keeping dogs occupied with getting the dental benefits of them chewing. They are a high protein treat for any dog and unlike rawhide, they are easily digestible.
Another great option that will keep your dog busy are bones. There are many great raw or air dried bones you can purchase at any pet store (never give your dog cooked bones as they can splinter easily).
Understandably, many people will not give their dogs raw bones in their house. One option can be block off an area for your dog to enjoy their bone and to lay an old blanket or bed sheet down for them to chew their bone on.
The one thing to remember when giving your dog a natural chew or bone to ensure that they don’t bite off a piece that is too large for them and could be a choking hazard.
While none of these options are going to replace taking your dog out for a walk, they will help your dog burn off some energy which in return, will help you keep your sanity.
Hire A Dog Walker
People are busy and for many people, winter is a tough time. It can be especially tough if you are someone who is sensitive to the cold or deals with mobility issues. Hiring a dog walker to take your dog out for you is a great option.
Dog walkers will be able to take your dog out when you are at work or school and gives you the peace of mind that they are still getting their activity in during the day.
Dog walkers are also able to adapt on the fly to any harsh weather conditions that come our way which could mean the shortening of walks and spending more time inside playing with your pet and giving them lots of love. The services can either be 30 minutes or 60 minutes depending on what you feel your dog needs.
If you’re interested in a free consultation, book one for you and your dog today.
Just because the temperature drops, doesn’t mean your dog can’t stay active. As we like to say, a tired dog is a happy dog.
Stay warm out there, everyone!