Winter is certainly here. The cold, the snow and the short amount of daylight can certainly make for a depressing time for us humans and our four-legged pals. Unless we ski or snowmobile, we tend to hibernate during the winter. We know that isn’t healthy for us or our fur babies. We need to find a safe way to enjoy the outdoors.
This leads me to a possible sport for us and our pals to enjoy: skijoring. From what I have read this is particularly great for dogs who love to run. It’s cross country skiing with your dog running ahead with a long line connected to his harness. Some dogs love it, and can be taught to pull you a little, turn and stop. It’s also a great way to do something together, and we have lots of trails right in our area to use.
A good walk, when it isn’t too cold, is a great way to get exercise and fresh air. Dogs love to be outside with their masters. For those who have treadmills in the house, and it is too cold to go outside, dogs can be taught to use one. One needs to take certain precautions so they can learn how it works. Put the dog on it and stand in front of the treadmill with a treat. Over three or four days gradually increase the speed and before long the dog thinks he is playing a game.
Indoor game playing such as hide and seek really gets the dog moving and challenges him mentally and physically. Start by throwing a special treat away from you and then hide in another part of the house. This game can really be fun for a dog as he rushes around the house looking for you.
Dogs have incredible scenting abilities and can sniff out almost anything so quickly. Hiding some treats under a chair cushion or in a Kong Wobble provides a lot of entertainment for a pup. If all else fails, throw a treat up the stairs and watch how fast a dog runs up to get that treat. Stair climbing is a great exercise for us and dogs.
Providing fresh air, exercise and stimulation for your dog during the cold weather is important, but there is such a thing as too cold. As a general rule, if it’s too frigid for you, it’s probably too cold for your dog, too. Remember, young and senior dogs and those with conditions such as arthritis struggle even more in the cold. Watch for signs that your pooch can’t handle the deep chill; they can include shaking, cowering, repeatedly lifting up her feet and continuously trying to go back inside.
Exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. Ensuring your dog gets the right kinds of exercise will go a long way to keeping your dog in top shape.
Please visit us at the Central Aroostook Humane Society, 24 Cross St. in Presque Isle, to see if you might that perfect companion for your family. We are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch 12-12:30. Check out our Facebook page for more information. Please remember to be responsible: spay or neuter your pets.
Carolyn Cheney is a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.