How do you exercise your dog in the winter

scrynJanuary 3, 2007

Ok, for those of you in snowy areas, how do you exercise your dog during the winter?

I ask because I have a dilemma. My one dog doesn't play fetch or anything of the sorts and prefers walks. Now that it is winter it is dark before and after work so walking is difficult. We don't have sidewalks in our area although our roads can get busy. I pondered buying a reflective vest for him so he is more visable to cars (if they even care!) however then I realized that when the snow plows come by we may get hurt (because there are no sidewalks) and the salt can hurt my dog's paws.

Now, we have another dog but his fave thing is to play fetch so we do that in the morning and evening in our fenced in yard. My newly adopted dog (adopted last spring, so this is our first winter together) only wants to be outside to do his thing. I have noticed a bit of a personality change lately, he is just antsy, and came to realize he doesn't DO ANYTHING! He doesn't run outside or inside. He does wrestle with our other dog but not for lengthy periods of time. So I think some outdoor exercise would be great. We do go to parks during the weekends and he loves to walk around. However the parks are closed after dusk, which is now like 4 pm. None of this would be an issue if we had sidewalks. It makes me so mad that we don't have any :(

Can anyone give me some exercise suggestions for the winter? Both our dogs are Pembroke Corgi's.

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Are there neighborhoods nearby with sidewalks? You could drive your dogs there to walk them. I don't walk my dogs on roadways in the winter due to the amount of salt dumped on the roads around here. Also, consider wearing reflective clothing yourself, in addition to something reflective on your dogs. Drivers will see you before they see your dogs. You may also want to purchase boots for your dogs. My dogs hate boots, but will wear them if "required" to. Boots come in very handy during the times when the snow has that "melty" texture and can build up as "snow rocks" between the pads of their paws. (They can also protect against the salt found on some sidewalks in the winter.) Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 9:47AM
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Yes, thanks. I do have a nice yellow winter jacket that I wear. Our town does not have sidewalks. I would have to search around to see if anyone else nearby does.
I am not sure if our dogs would wear boots. I put a jacket on them once (as we received it as a gift) and they just sat there. I think they were afraid to move because it felt wierd on their fur.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 9:53AM
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Hey that's a good question that I wonder about just about every day when I put on my heavy coat to do at least a mile walk in an uncomfortable cold rain. I do have some sidewalk but a good portion of it is walking in the weeds on the trash-laden roadside with cars whizzing by. It sounds like you're blessed with a low energy dog. One of mine is high energy but tires pretty quickly and the other is lower energy but doesn't tire nearly as fast. Even after a really long 4 mile walk though they seem to have a lot of energy in reserves.

There are a few activities for indoors that I've found to have those toungues dangling in no time. But there's just one teeny weeny requirement. You need to have at least a two story house with a straight staircase that doesn't turn 180 halfway down.
We do Hide & Seek which is a lot of fun actually. It's like being a kid again and it's good mental stimulation for the dogs. What I do is toss a treat or piece of kibble down the stairs and the boys go running after it. Sometimes I fake it and just pretend to throw something. While they do I go and hide and call their names and they come and find me and get a treat when and if they do. (They always do!) The added benefit to this game is that it practices the come command or name recall.

Another thing I do if I'm not in the mood to run and hide is similar... I will go to the upstairs hall and throw a treat down, the boys run after it then just when they get to the treat, I say "(dog name) come" and they come darting up the stairs. Then I repeat. After 10 minutes of this, toungues are dangling and they're really worn out. OR just plain bored with it. This of course firmly cements the come command in your dogs brain.

And another thing I did was I taught my dogs the "go run" command. I have one dog that loves to run around in circles so it was easy when I assigned a word to it and started rewarding when he did it. For the puppy, he didn't do this so I would run around in circles with him and reward for "go run". Basically what happens when I give this command is the older dog will go running around at lighting speeds and the puppy will chase after him. 10 minutes of this and they're done. They really seem to enjoy it since the older dog loves to run and the puppy loves to try to herd him, being he's a herding breed. All I have to do is stand in the doorway and hand out treats. Or I can do this inside in the basement.

There's also tug-o-war which has brief intermissions of obedience practice then the match resumes. I do the same with fetch but the boys aren't really in to that.

Sometimes I run around the basment with a toy and they will chase after me to get it and then they will take over once one of them gets the toy, the other will chase until he gets it.

I'd like to try some agility some day and I'd love to get ideas from what others are doing and can't wait to read the replies. It's rare that I don't walk the dogs though and I can't imagine what it would be like to have extra frigid temps or some of the problems you would have up north.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 10:09AM
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Those are some great suggestions, however corgi's don't do well on stairs (being so short and stubby!). When it is nice out my new boy will run around the yard outside and I will chase him however I haven't been able to get him to do that since the weather got cold. He is such a pretty boy. He seems to hate to get dirty. When we go for walks he jumps over muddy areas! Our older boy will often just grab a toy and run run run! however we can't get our new boy into doing that. I have NO idea what he did before we adopted him! Ok, well I doubt he did much at all, he was a little porker. I have gotten him to trim down, he has a waist now!

it makes me so mad that drivers are just big jerks. I am so careful when I drive around children and people walking their dogs. I wish everyone would be a little slower. There are a few people that slow down and even wave. So not everyone is a jerk. Actually, in the city here we had two hit and runs lately. How sad! I am always telling my husband to SLOW down! That people live on the roads we travel down and we dont' want people to speed on our road, so don't speed on theirs. Of course then we get a huge line of irrate drivers tailgating us if we go the speed limit!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 10:18AM
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I forgot one important thing. After we're done playing the boys get a stuffed kong so they settle down and go to sleep.

As for the drivers, yeah you really tone down your own driving when you see how fast people go, especially on the windy country roads around here but if you got irate drivers behind you, I just pull over and let them pass. Sometimes I'm in a hurry and wish others would do the same. On the very same road we walk on without sidewalks, there was a driver that was killed recently when they lost control and crashed into a tree. The stuffed animals, flowers and baloons are still out there. And there is a spot were a truck ran off the road and crashed right outside our subdivision. Then two subs over, a car crashed into their sign. Then someone in this neighborhood crashed and totalled their car. All of this within the last year.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 10:31AM
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We walk in the snow. I wear a heavy jacket, hat and gloves. The dogs wear their natural fur coats. Our walks are shorter in the winter and sometimes I carry a flashlight. I think the darkness in the morning and afternoon is more of concern for us than the snow.

I have been thinking about getting one of those headband lights. But usually there is plenty of light... the street lights, the moon and the reflection off the snow keep things bright enough.

I will wipe their feet off after a walk, particularly if I think we have walked through some de-icer or salt.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 10:33AM
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Is doggie day care an option? Maybe one or two visits a week would help take the edge off. Another option would be Flyball, DiscDog or Agility classes/training.

How about a treadmill workout? The Dog Whisperer on NGEO channel recommends this alot to people who do not have resources or time for walks. But, I think you'd have to learn how to do it from an expert.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 12:27PM
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I have three dogs. Two of them love to play hide and seek. I am always finding new places to hide from them. They burn up tons of energy looking for me.

My favorite place to hide is the store room. I hide there and quietly call their names with the light off. Because one wears a collar and tags, I can hear her and know when to be extra quiet.

I don't live in a really snowy area, although we do have some. When the dogs can't go out for their regular a.m. and p.m. walk, I always make it a point to play with them so their energy get's used up.

Steps are also a great form of exercise. I am always pretending to go down or up and quickly reverse and hide so they can look for me.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 12:30PM
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One of my dogs LOVES to get on the treadmill with me! I can hardly keep him off. He has little stubby legs and I'm amazed at how long he will stay on.

I saw Cesar Milan do it and I did the same thing with a leash first. But of the 2 I tried, only 1 liked it, the other one didn't want anything to do with it.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 1:07PM
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I think agility would be fun. I have pondered that. I would love a treadmill, but we have no room for one :(
Corgis are herders so I wish there was a herding class near me, however I haven't been able to find one as of yet.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 2:01PM
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Glow in the dark frisbee. Just found it and my guys love it. It allows some exercise after work when it is already dark.

I really wouldn't do the step games with my younger dogs, old gal definitely couldn't do that at all. I think I would be worried about injury since the two boys really get moving when a treat or object (ball or frisbee or stick for that matter) is involved. It's a great idea if your dogs are sensible. Mine aren't.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 2:10PM
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Sawyer, my one year old, is starting agility in February. I have seen corgis do agility and they actually seem to be pretty good at it, even though they are short. Herding breeds are always good at that stuff. Sawyer is a hound, so we are doing it just for fun :)

You might want to see if you can find a club in your area. I'd start with looking for corgi clubs and email them about herding classes. Dog breed clubs always know the "good stuff" that is available.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 2:47PM
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Thanks cindyb, There are no corgi clubs in our area! :( So sad! I did find an agility club, however we need to go through "advanced" training first! My older corgi (he is 4.5 yrs, so not that old really) has a problem with his leg so he is not allowed to jump much. he is awesome at fetch though! If flyball did not involve jumping I bet he would be awesome at it! Charlie, my younger boy, seems to be very graceful in a way and that is what made me think about agility. He is great at jumping also and is very quick!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 3:12PM
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Oh boy, do I ever understand your plight! Our dog is large and requires a lot of exercise. And I know Corgis are herding dogs and they require exercise, too... the length of their legs doesn't diminish it, does it?!

I go to work early and am home 2-3PM. Enough time for an hour of walking on the shortest days of the year, if we hustle. I bundle up and out we go. Rex loves to play ball, so I can exercise him effectively by simply "keeping him on the move". Teaching a dog how to retrieve a ball is really a godsend when you find yourself short of time and they need to run... . On days when the rain is really incessant or the weather is too inclement for much outdoor time, I simply do Obedience work and toss the ball down the stairs... about 70 times, lol! It works, though. Rex gets to "run" and we reinforce bringing the ball to me and sitting politely in front of me, and all the other commands.

Reflective gear will make walking safer for both of you. Apply reflective tape to the leash. Wear a reflective safety vest. Your dog should be on your left and you should be walking against the traffic flow. This will put you between the traffic and your dog and your vest will be plainly visible to all in oncoming vehicles.

Take Obedience classes! I know they aren't running around, but they burn up energy just working with you and it's the perfect start to agility classes.

Get the reflective gear first!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 1:56PM
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How about hiring a dog walker for daytime walkies (with booties on for protection from the salt)?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 2:40PM
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It's too icy to walk the dogs in the winter. What I've done in past winters is sign up for a class at the dog club, agility or obedience. I know it's only one day a week, but it's something to look forward to. With my first dog we play fetch indoors. Actually, it's play "catch the kong". The puppy isn't fully matured yet to run up and down stairs much, but I'll keep that exercise in mind for when she gets older. But she can wear herself out in the backyard. She tends to run in circles really fast saying, "I'll bet you can't catch me!" And I just watch. :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 4:14PM
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I don't know anyone that I would trust walking my dogs. I know many people (mainly in cities) have dog walkers but I don't know anyone here that does that. It isn't very common in my area to do this.
I think I am going to see if I can change my hours to get out a little earlier.
Yesterday I took an hour off to enjoy the weather and we went for a nice walk and ran a bit at the end. He was so happy :)
At the end of the road though there was a poor dog roaming and whining outside of a house. It looked like it was trying to jump over the front bushes towards the house window. I don't know if the owners left him outside and it wanted to get back in?? Anyways, we had to turn around and not continue down the street because I didn't know if it would bother us or not. That really made me mad!! At least I know what the dog looked like so if I see it I know to call animal control and I can tell them where it belongs. We have been finding dog poo in our front yard (not from our dogs) and now I am wondering if that same poor dog is just roaming around during the days or nights. I dont' know how people can be so stupid! grr!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 4:16PM
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This is a challenging question, this winter we have had snow, windstorms and much pouring rain. we live on a busy country road, so when it snows, the snowplow piles it up on the side so walking is impossible. When desperate, I take him (2 yr old lab) around our local strip mall. It's covered but outside, and I give him a little training session, make him "heel" and be polite when people stop to pet him. Once or twice a week to a dog sitter so he can play with other dogs. (His fave!) I also have a friend I walk with who also has a young dog - they go off-lesh in a park. Or I just put on rain gear and walk, and we get soaked. I am starting him in fly-ball. It's a never-ending challenge because he has endless energy and mine runs out pretty fast. I can't wait for spring!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 7:54PM
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Let's see, mine go to doggie day care usually once a week. Except for Boone, as he is not neutered and has realized that he is a man :) He goes to agility classes, and is also doing field training. All 3 love going for walks, and sometimes my schedule allows it and sometimes not. We have also started playing "find it" in the house. Not enough hiding places in this little joint for a game of hide and seek, but I can hide treats for them to find. Mentally stimulating, and they've gotten very good at it!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 8:24PM
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Actually, I like it when it snows as the snow on the ground and trees reflects any light and I can see where we're going. No sidewalks here and very few streetlights, so when I do walk in the dark (most nights) I carry a flashlight and swing it.

Fortunately my circle has very little traffic. But I don't venture beyond the circle (it's only a mile) when it's dark, so the evening walk is 3 loops around the circle in winter. The dogs don't seem to care as long as they have something to sniff :-) But I worry they'll find a raccoon or a fox in the wild undergrowth. If I can sneak a daylight walk in we go other routes and that's much more fun. I so miss summer when the daylight seems to go on forever!

I also take them out in the yard with me and turn the floodlights on so they can race about and chase balls and stuffies. And on week-ends, if I don't have a foster to take, I let one of my dogs go to an open house for my rescue group. Just standing around sucking up to people for two hours and showing off their tricks wears them out. The other two will get to go to the dog park that afternoon if the ground is dry.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 8:59PM
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Yesterday my husband and I drove around a little bit after work and found a street with sidewalks!! it is on the other side of the road, three houses over. I never saw them before because the sidewalks don't start untill a couple houses in (dugh! how stupid is that?)

So we all went for a nice walk yesterday on the sidewalks and although it was dark I really enjoyed it! It just so happens that this street is in the next town over that does have sidewalks! Our town doesn't :(

I was playing fetch (or trying to show Charley to fetch) and our other dog was on the other side of the yard playing fetch with my husband. When I picked up Charley's ball our other dog came running and Charley started a fight :( I was so upset. We looked our other dog over and he had a little scratch on his paw but seemed fine. I think Charley was afraid that Bud, our other boy, would take the ball when I threw it.
We separated them in different portions of the house for the evening, because I was so upset. :(

I hope that training helps Charley with this. I don't know his history very well (he is adopted) so I think he is nervous everything will be taken from him or he never got things before. He is dominant, but he listens to me and thinks I am alpha but he still sometimes picks fights with our other boy who is very submissive.
So my plan is to sign up for training and then maybe move up to agility, if we can! Also we will be using the newly found sidewalk street as much as we can. We will be walking in the dark, but what can we do?

I am going to call the training place today! I am pretty excited!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 8:40AM
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Just an afterthought. Sometimes we go somewhere else for a quality walk. On certain friday nights we have a field trip to petsmart. There is a lot of outdoor shopping and sidewalks and quiet places to walk there. Especially in the summer, the outdoor portion of the mall has all kinds of free concerts and events. I know I know, were talking about winter. Check to see if you have a county park near you. I've got a great one a mile from here that we go to all the time. You don't have to get sprayed by passing cars in the rain.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 9:23AM
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We are blessed with many parks! We visit them every weekend but are not something we can do during the week because they close at dusk. They lock the gates :(
I suppose most counties do this for safety reasons.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 12:50PM
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This winter I have been able to continue the walks around my fenced half acre with Dusty my 20# mix. After my schnauzer, Princess, had to be put ot sleep she didn't seem to want to walk around the yard herself so guess who got drafted to walk with her. Dusty also does a few tricks like jumping over a box, rolling over and shaking hands for a Cheerio. The evening bisquit is broken up and "hidden" all over the house for her to find. Also, with hand clapping she will run around the living room-dining room several times. Usually before supper she will play catch with her toys. After that we are pretty pooped.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 7:56PM
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