Don’t Hibernate This Winter! Play Outside with Your Dog Instead


Play outside with your dog! Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic

It’s winter in Minnesota and you can love it or hate it. While some people only venture outside when it’s unavoidable, others can’t wait to get out there and find new forms of recreation to enjoy. If you belong to the latter half of the population and have a dog, he can join in the fun too. As long as you both dress appropriately for the weather and you watch for signs of distress, there’s no stopping the adventures the two of you can find.

Love Cross-Country Skiing? Turn it into Skijoring
You already know that cross-country skiing is great exercise, but did you know it can be a great way for your dog to fight the battle of the winter bulge as well? No, you don’t ski while holding her or put her on her own set of skis. With skijoring, you tie one end of a rope around your waist and the other to your dog’s harness. Since pulling comes naturally to most dogs, you might be surprised at how quickly yours gets the hang of it. You should plan to spend some time teaching her the stop and turn commands before picking up the pace on the ski trails.

Take Up Dog Mushing
Your dog doesn’t have to be an Alaskan Husky to take up this wintertime sport with you. As mentioned above, most dogs have the inborn desire to pull. They also love being anywhere their owners are. After purchasing a harness for your dog, spend some time teaching him commands. He will need to know how to mush, which means go, as well as stop, turn, slow down, and speed up.

Stick to a lightweight sled if you have only one dog, but a heavier wooden toboggan is fine with two or more. Once you’re satisfied with his training, hitch one end of the leash to the sled and the other to his harness and then tell him to mush.

Don’t Skip the Walks and Exercise
Your dog’s need for a daily walk doesn’t end when autumn does. If you’re tempted to skip the daily walk, remember that she still needs an outlet for all her pent-up energy. This is especially true if she has to stay in a kennel all day or spends long hours away from you. As long as the weather isn’t too extreme, bundle up and start walking. Putting booties on each of your dog’s paws is the best way to avoid injuries from road salt and other de-icing chemicals. A dog sweater also helps to preserve body heat until you return home.

Don’t Forget About Indoor Dog Parks
Indoor dog parks can save the day when it’s so cold that it’s not safe to be outside for more than a minute. There you can throw a Frisbee, play catch, and let your dog run around to his heart’s content. Finding one is as easy as doing a simple Google search. Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic is also happy to recommend additional ways for you to stay active with your dog this winter.

Photo Credit: ChristinLola / Getty Images

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