The cold weather and occasional snow doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the outside with your dog for the next few months. Some dogs thoroughly enjoy the cold weather and snow. In fact, veterinarians warn that dogs still need adequate exercise to maintain a healthy weight and keep boredom at bay during the winter. After all, a bored dog can become a destructive dog.
So with a little preparation for the elements, you can still enjoy outside activities with your pet during the winter. Here are a few ideas:
Winter Activity #1 - Play in the Snow
Whether you venture into your own backyard or head to a dog-friendly local park, playing in the snow with your dog can be a lot of fun. Just be sure that if your dog is a small breed, ill, elderly, or a breed such as a Greyhound or Whippet that is slender and has short fur, you provide a warm coat or sweater for them. (Check out our blog, "Do Dogs Really Need Sweaters?" featured on the NewBedfordGuide.com) Booties are another option to keep your dog's paws dry and warm.
Playing fetch in the snow with a brightly-colored ball can bring a lot of joy for your pooch. And if you have children, chasing them throughout mounds of snow is a great way to release some energy.
Just make sure that when you return you wipe off your dog's paws, ears, face and coat, so that no ice becomes wedged in places that can cause frostbite.
Winter Activity #2 - Agility Classes
The winter months can be a great time to sign your dog up for some agility classes, which offer exercise and discipline during a time when your dog can become restless. These classes train your dog how to jump through hoops, walk through and over obstacles, and jump over things all while following your direction.
The Potter League for Animals in Rhode Island offers a great variety of classes and fun activities for your dog. Petco also sometimes offers agility training. Call your local animal shelter or Petco or check their websites for more information.
Winter Activity #3 - Play Groups
Perhaps your dog needs less disciplinary training and just needs more social interaction with other dogs? One great option is checking out Meetup. Meeting is an online database of events and groups organized by people like you! Just log on, choose the "Pets and Animals" category, choose the area to search in and you'll gain access to information about doggie play groups located in your community.
The Potter League for Animals also offer some great play groups organized by age and size. Check out their class calendar for more information.
And lastly, your local Petco offers doggie play groups as well. Check your local store's online calendar (here is the calendar for the North Dartmouth, MA location) or call to inquire.
Winter Activity #4 - Volunteer
Dogs are so full of love, and they enjoy showing it. So for a fulfilling activity to do with your dog, consider volunteering with them! Winter can be a long, bleak season for many residents of communities like nursing homes, and a visit with a happy, furry pet can really brighten their spirits.
Call your local nursing home or animal shelter to inquire about any volunteer opportunities that exist for you and your pet. In most cases, your dog may need to pass a behavioral test to ensure they will safely interact with strangers and will be comfortable and can follow basic commands.
Or, consider just bringing them for a trip to visit an elderly relative! The happy reaction people will have when enjoying time with your pet will warm your heart and give purpose to your dog during the cold, winter months.