By Aaron Teixeira, MSc, Shelter Behavior Manager, SFSPCA
With winter now in full effect, cold rain, snow and ice can complicate our dogs’ exercise routines. Regardless of the weather, it is important to remember that our dogs still need daily exercise for physical and mental wellbeing.
Rain often creates new smells in the environment that dogs enjoy. By using a doggy rain jacket you can keep your pup dry; nice towel dry is an easy fix when your dog comes home a little wet.
In extreme winter weather, such as snow and ice, indoor activities can be a good replacement for a walk. An indoor game of fetch can be a great physical outlet for dogs, as well as playing with toys such as a flirt pole or tug toy.
Enrichment is another great indoor option for keeping dogs mentally stimulated. Mental stimulation exercises the brain and can serve to burn off excess energy, to help prevent problem behaviors such as raiding laundry baskets or chewing up furniture.
Food enrichment can easily be done by stuffing a Kong toy with peanut butter and freezing it to make it last longer (check out the SF SPCA’s Kong tip sheet for pointers). Other food puzzle toys include slow feeders, snuffle mats, and homemade puzzles made out of cardboard boxes or egg cartons.
Remember, a happy dog is a mentally and physically satisfied dog – even in winter.