Exercising With Your Pet – Even When Its Cold Out

It’s cold outside.  And no one really feels like going outside.  Sometimes, not even our pets.  But we discussed a few posts back that exercising your dogs is very important for their health.  What are you supposed to do when the weather is keeping you indoors?

“Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Gloom Of Night…”

Those words have long been associated with the American Postman.  They forget that it also applies to pet owners. Who else would you see out there during good or bad weather, through all hours of the day or night, but the hardworking pet owner, and their dogs?

The last couple of days have seen record low temperatures in the American Northeast.  Snow and rain and ice were everywhere.  And so were dog owners and their pets!  And so was I!  You have to.  Even when your pets don’t like it, even they know they have to go out.  

One freezing night, Mochi (our Black Labrador) was frantically ringing the potty bell by the sliding door to the backyard. Moments before that, he was comfortably snuggled next to our son who was watching TV in the warmth of the family room.  One would think, “Really, Mochi?!?!  In that weather?”  But out he went, did his business, but instead of lingering a second longer outside, he went right back in!

Again, pets are our responsibility!  If we want to have them in our lives, we need to give them what they need.  And It’s not just board and lodging.  

Indoor Games

Of course, you can also play with them indoors!  But this does not really take the place of actually allowing them to be outdoors.  This is just for those days when the weather, or other situations, prevent you from taking them out.

My son, for instance, plays fetch and tag with our dog inside the house.  Much to my wife’s displeasure!  You see, we have wood and tiled floors throughout the first floor of our house, and in the bedrooms.  And Mochi is a 65 lbs behemoth running around, dragging his claws on the floor, sometimes leaving scratches!  

This is one reason why you should routinely have your dog’s claws trimmed.  But, we’ll talk about grooming on another post!

Tennis, Anyone?

The ubiquitous tennis balls. I read from Dr. Marty Becker’s bookYour Dog, The Owner’s Manual,” that he suspects that more tennis balls are used to play with dogs than are used in actual tennis games.  That may be true, but tennis balls and dogs just seem to go together perfectly.  It’s a very versatile plaything.  They fit perfectly in your pet’s mouth.  He can carry it all over the place.  He gets my son to run after him all over the house.  You see, Mochi plays a modified game of fetch.  

My son throws the ball out, he runs after it, he gets the ball, then he runs away!  You’re supposed to then run after him! And he’s not going to give that ball up easily, either.  So, you see, everyone gets an exercise!    

One note of caution, though.  Dr. Becker warns that while our dogs love to play with tennis balls, we must remember that they are not chew toys!  The materials they are made out of are not really great when digested.  And more importantly, dogs have been known to compress tennis balls in their mouths.  When they get too far into their throats, and they spring back to their original size while they’re back there, they can block your dog’s airway and that can be fatal within minutes!  

So, when you’re done playing fetch, put those tennis balls away!

Small dogs

It’s sometimes easier for small dog owners to find something that will keep their pets busy while indoors.  And this is even better if you have an open, finished basement, or an extra room.  Your toy area in your local superstore can provide many great ideas!

You can take any fabric tunnels that were made for toddlers and use those as an activity course for your small pets! Anything that will allow your dogs to jump, tunnel, or roll in are great for keeping them busy and moving!  So old pillows, small tents, soft blocks, or even large carton boxes, will tickle your pet’s imagination!  

Monkey In The Middle And Hide And Seek

Monkey in the middle is best played in the basement, where hopefully, the ceiling is a little higher, and there are less hanging fixtures that you can hit.  All you need are kids, a ball, and some treats!  Pass the ball among yourselves, have your dog run after the ball.  Everytime he catches it, give him a treat!

You can also hide balls all over the house and have your pet find them.  Again, be careful not to hide them behind or under anything that may break!  Mom won’t be happy!  Start by placing these balls or items in plain sight then have them retrieve these items and bring them back to you.  After a couple of times and he knows what to do, you can hide these items and have your dog find them!  And treats are always welcome!

Resist The Urge To Be Couch Potatoes

I know, it’s hard on days like this, to get out from under your warm blanket, off of the couch, and start some kind of activity.  But it’s not just for them.  It’s also for you.  We know how important exercising with your pet is for them.  How much more for us! 

We want our pets to be around for a long while.  And we want to have the strength to be there for them when they need us.  It’s a win-win for both you and your pet.  It doesn’t take much to make your pet happy.  And when they’re happy, then so are you!

So, bundle up if you’re going out, or get those tennis balls out!