Winter Tips for Keeping Your Dog Active and Fit

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dog agility photoPhoto: Kim Saunders

This post was originally published on the Petfinder blog

By Jane Harrell, Petfinder.com associate producer

This article is the latest in our series on environmental enrichment, offering easy ways to keep your pet’s mind and body active.

Many of you made New Year’s resolutions to get active with your pet — but that can be tough when it’s too cold to spend much time outside.

Tough, but not impossible! Here are some easy ways you and your dog can have fun and get moving … indoors.

  • Fetch: Toss your dog a ball and have him bring it back to you. Just remember to put your grandmother’s vase away first.
  • Laser pointer: Yes, these are generally for cats, but some dogs go wild for them. Just point it at the floor, move the light around and watch as your dog chases it.
  • Hide and seek: Position yourself and a pal at two different points in your home, preferably with something like a staircase between you. Then take turns calling your dog and rewarding him with a treat when he finds you. Each time your dog goes to one person, the other person changes location so your dog has to search for you again. (Watch this Hide and Seek video for ideas.)
  • Searching game: Hide treats or favorite (i.e. smelly) toys around the house, then tell your dog to find them. (Find out how to train your dog to search for it in this video.)
  • Chasing bubbles: A lot of dogs (and cats too!) love chomping on bubbles. (Check out this video if you don’t believe me.) Set up near a fan for extra fun — just be sure to use pet-friendly bubbles (available in many pet-supply stores).

Got cabin fever? Here are some ways your dog can get indoor exercise outside of your home.

  • Agility class: For extra fun, enroll your dog in an indoor agility class. Your local shelter may offer one, or know of a place that does.
  • Your local pet-supply store: Bring your dog with you the next time you run to Petco or other pet-friendly store. Not only will this give your dog some interesting sights and smells, it’ll help him burn the calories off from all the extra winter treats.

Remember, no matter how much indoor-activity your dog gets, he still needs to go for his daily walk, however brief, for his mental health and socialization fix. (Here are some winter-weather tips to keep your dog — and cat — safe during the coldest months.)

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