Keeping Your Dog Active Indoors
One of the very best things about winter is enjoying home life; sitting by the fireplace and watching our pooch burrow into his very own BedHug. The downside, of course, is that when the weather outside is frightening, our dogs can’t get as much exercise outdoors as they would like to. If you live in a relatively warm area, wonderful long walks are a possibility, but in blizzards and icy conditions, outside time is best kept to a few minutes.
There is no need to worry in terms of your dog’s activity level, though; with a little creativity and commitment, you can ensure your dog has a great workout, all year round.
Why do Dogs Need Exercise Everyday?
Adults are currently battling an obesity plague these days, but our inactivity can have dire results for our pets, as well. Being overweight can lead to many canine diseases, and is considered a risk factor for everything from heart disease to cancer.
Exercise keeps your pooch’s circulation going, but also strengthens muscles and bones.
It is also an important way to manage osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that is caused by the deterioration of joint cartilage, which is common in older dogs.
Regular exercise will ensure your dog carries less weight and places less stress on his skeletal system. Ensuring he is at his ideal weight will reduce the pain and discomfort caused by osteoarthritis. If you notice your dog is in pain, is limping or seems less motivated to exercise, see your vet so you can devise a pain management plan for your dog.
What Indoor Exercises are Ideal for My Dog?
The right indoor exercises for your dog depend to a great degree on his age and any health conditions he may have. Dogs with osteoarthritis, for instance, will benefit from walking and indoor swimming (see your vet about appropriate exercises in a warm tub, for instance).
You can also keep them active and moving by feeding them most of their meals in Kong-style toys, so they have to work for every bite.
Younger dogs, meanwhile, will love running up steps to fetch, or running between two family members to catch a favorite ball, which is rolled or thrown from one side of the room to another.
Many dog owners like to teach their dogs to play specific games, such as soccer (your pooch and you take turns pushing/kicking the ball) and hide-and-seek. For the latter, your dog will need to be trained to sit and stay. Use a clicker and treats for a few minutes and once he has mastered these skills, command him to sit, leave the room and find a fabulous hiding place, and call his name.
Regardless of your dog’s age or breed, daily exercise is required for his physical and mental health. In warmer months and whenever possible, ensure he enjoys various walks a day and at least one long walk in which he can feel free to run, smell the surrounds, and socialize with other dogs. In winter, meantime, use your creativity to keep him moving indoors. For canines as for human beings, movement is life.