Winter fun: Staying active to help your dog avoid cabin fever

by Sojos | December 18, 2012

The instinct is strong, whether you’re human or canine: When the cold winds start to blow, it’s hard to resist curling up to stay cozy and warm. But after a few weeks – or months – of laying low, we all get a little stir-crazy and want to get moving.

When your dog is feeling bored by the winter blahs, he might resort to unwanted activity, whether it’s inappropriate chewing, tearing around the house or obsessive behaviors. And if he’s not active, it’s possible he could start gaining weight – though keeping him on a diet of raw dog food can help with maintenance.

To prevent those issues and keep his health on track, make the effort to get out and stay active, even when it’s snowy, rainy or just downright chilly. Try these ideas for a fun, active season with your best buddy.

Flyball: In this high-speed indoor sport, teams of dogs race against each other, relay style, over a line of hurdles, toward a box that releases a tennis ball when a dog presses on it with his paws. The start line is the finish line – the dogs race down to the tennis ball box and then back to their owners. Hurdle height varies depending on the size of the dogs participating, so even smaller pups can join in the fun.

Skijoring: For dogs that love to be out in the cold, this is ideal. In a nutshell, skijoring is a dog or team of dogs (typically no more than three) pulling a person on skis. Dogs wear harnesses that attach to the person’s waist via a rope or cord. If you love cross-country skiing but always wanted to bring your dog along, skijoring is a fun way to make it happen.

Agility: In agility, dogs are trained to go through a series of obstacles on a course – with speed and style. Training is a major part of the fun, so don’t overlook the sport even if you’re not keen to compete one day. It’s an incredibly popular sport that builds the dog-owner bond while getting you both off the couch and out of the house. Check with your local animal shelter to see if they have recommendations for local agility classes.

Some cities also have indoor dog parks or social clubs where dogs that don’t do well in the cold can frolic with their friends – and skip the frozen paws.