As temperatures continue to drop and fall gets closer and closer to winter, the way we interact with our pets tends to change. From feeding them more table scraps thanks to holiday parties to leaving them home alone more often as we prepare for upcoming travels, our pets must adapt to new routines at the dawn of winter.
Another change that commonly occurs is a decrease in the amount of exercise we afford our dogs. The air starts to get colder, snow begins to fall and our lives get busier this time of year, and that usually results in Fido being walked less and laying around more.
It’s important that we don’t let this happen though. Exercise is crucial for your dog’s physical and mental wellbeing. It helps keep your dog slim, keeps joints and bones healthy, strengthens muscles and even provides great mental stimulation to prevent boredom. A dog that is not exercised often enough might begin to tear up the house at best, or get very sick and weak at worst.
Here are some tips to ensure your pup is getting out and staying active, even when the weather makes you want to stay inside.
Fun fall activities to do with your dog
There are lots of fun things for you to do with your dog during the fall season. One of the most obvious is to take your dog on a walk in a nearby park. When the leaves change color, the sight of the surrounding trees will be there for you to enjoy while your pup gets its regular exercise in.
If the temperatures are a little too cold for your taste, consider going on more short runs and fewer walks. Running will raise your body temperature, helping you feel nice and toasty, and will help your dog get an adequate amount of cardio in each week.
Apart from everyday walks and runs, you can also involve your dog in some of your favorite fall activities to get its blood pumping. When you visit a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins to carve or to get some warm apple cider, bring your dog with and let it run around in the fields.
Another fun activity is to pile leaves in your yard or into a small baby pool and encourage your dog to leap into the pile. Hiding treats and toys in the pile can also create a fun seek-and-find activity for your playful pooch, which will exercise both its body and mind.
Exercise doesn’t have to be outside
Sometimes, the weather gets too chilly to comfortably take your dog outside to play. However, that doesn’t mean your dog can’t get its exercise! You can find ways to help your dog stay active inside the warmth of your home.
If your home has stairs, exercise your dog on them. Toss a ball or toy to the bottom of the stairs and let your dog run down to retrieve it and bring it back up. Running up and down stairs is great exercise for your dog and can engage muscles that are not as engaged with normal walks. Just make sure your stairs are not slippery, so your dog does not slip and hurt itself.
You can also play simple games of fetch with a soft toy or chase your dog a little while inside. Make sure to move large pieces of furniture so you and your dog stay safe. Tug of war and hide-and-seek are also good ways to keep your dog moving.
Stay safe during fall exercise
If you do venture outside with your dog during fall, you should be cautious of some potential dangers that could cause you or your dog harm. Take precautions while out on walks or runs to protect against cold weather, debris and less daylight.
- Wear reflective gear: During fall, the days get a lot shorter. If you plan to walk your dog in the early morning or near sunset, make sure you have a reflective vest and your dog has a light-up collar, so you are visible to cars.
- Protect your pup from inflammation: Cold weather can sometimes make joint stiffness and inflammation worse in dogs, particularly if they suffer from arthritis. Be cautious of the amount of time you spend out in the cold and give your pup supplements or arthritis medication when necessary.
- Avoid leaf piles on the street: Jumping in leaves can be fun, but leaf piles on the street might be hiding some dangerous secrets, like sharp sticks. Keep your pup from jumping in these piles and stick to the safe ones you make at home.
- Purchase cold-weather clothing: If there is already ice or salt on the road, you might want to purchase doggie booties to keep your dog’s paws safe from cracking. If your dog is small or has very short hair, you also may want to invest in a sweater or warming vest to protect it from the cold temperatures and harsh winds.
There are many ways to get your dog outside and active during the late fall season. The important thing to remember is that your dog needs exercise to stay healthy, so getting up and moving with your pooch is an investment in its health you can’t afford to skip.