WINTER EXERCISE: 10 creative tips on how to motivate your dog
Winter is creeping up fast (I know, I know… it is only October). Making sure our dogs get winter exercise is challenging! Check out these 10 useful tips on how to make sure your dog keeps active during the winter months.
I always laugh when people tell me their dog will not walk in the rain – it is usually conditioned by the owner’s avoidance of the task haha – none the less, here are some winter exercise suggestions for you non-rain lovers (both two legged & four).
Skip the food bowl, and make them work for all of their daily allocation! 20 minutes of problem solving & mental stimulation = similar to an hour walk for some dogs! A great way to keep dry for everyone and a great way to get some winter exercise.
Here are 10 tips to help with winter exercise in the form of daily meals:
1. Stuff a kong with their food and smear the top off with something wet to hold all the kibble in! Then freeze it! It is like a breakfast popsicle!
2. Use a “snuffle mat” for meal feeding (you’re all going to go google that now…).
3. Toss their handful of healthy treats from Granville Island Pet Treatery into your yard, if you have one – I call it a “snuffle mat- au naturel”.
4. Purchase your favorite food puzzle from your local pet store. Start easy and work your way up to more challenging. Dog puzzle?! I know right! They actually exist and are tremendously beneficial for keeping busy dogs busy, in all the right places!
5. Hand feed. Kibble by kibble or healthy treat by healthy treat from Granville Island Pet Treatery. This is great for relationship building with a new rescue or a less confident dog.
6. Use meal food as training rewards on your walks! Anything your dog does that you like should be marked (“yes” or click) and then reinforced (feed). Remember, what gets rewarded, gets repeated!
7. Hide healthy treats from Granville Island Pet Treatery outside buildings on your walks in cracks in brick walls, or rock walls… any where you can hide food that is off the ground (away from dangers). This allows your dog to play “find it” on walks, utilizing their noses and burns off mental energy!
8. Have your dog removed, then hide healthy treats from Granville Island Pet Treatery under upside down tupperware containers or salad bowls throughout the house and release them to go “find it”. This encourages them to use their noses, search high and low throughout the house & is mentally tiring!
9. Purchase a muffin tray and 6 tennis balls. Hide healthy treats from Granville Island Pet Treatery in the muffin holes and stuff the balls on top. The dog has to remove each ball to get to the treat!
10. Play “touch” recall in your home. Ask you dog to “touch” (target their nose to your hand), mark the behaviour (click or “yes” when the dogs nose touches your hand), toss the food reward down a hallway or across the room. Repeat. Change the direction the food is tossed each time to create some unpredictability in the game.
Implementing a variety of these as your feeding protocols is a fantastic way of reducing frustration, increasing confidence, decreasing boredom behaviors such as barking/chewing, & leaves you with both a mentally and physically tired dog! These tips also to help with the challenging problem of getting enough winter exercise and keeping everyone dry in the process.