Once winter hits, taking our pets outside for their daily walks can require intense motivation. But, braving the cold, blustery weather doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Make the best of wintry conditions and have fun with your pet at the same time by trying out a new outdoor exercise, or bring the enjoyment inside with a variety of stimulating activities. Read on for 10 great ideas to get active with your pet this winter. 

#1: Try skijoring

Skijoring, which essentially combines cross country skiing with dog mushing, is an excellent sport for active pets and owners that can be enjoyed by dogs of all shapes and sizes who are healthy and full of energy. Once you acquire the necessary equipment, skijoring is an invigorating, healthy way to bond with your pet. 

#2: Play snowball fetch

Pets who enjoy playing fetch may be confused when you initially throw a snowball that disappears into the pile of snow below. But, many pets get a thrill out of chasing—and devouring—these frozen, slushy treats. 

#3: Go for a winter romp

Some pets absolutely love the snow and will take any opportunity to romp around. Why not suit-up and join in the fun? Find a park, yard, or other open area where you and your pet can jump and play in the snow. Delight in watching your pet prance through the white terrain. Add a game of chase or tag for extra fun. 

#4: Create an indoor agility or obstacle course

When wintry weather is too much to bear, make an indoor agility or obstacle course with hoops your pet will enjoy jumping through. You can set this up in your home or garage, using cushions, pillows, hula hoops, traffic cones, or other items. Also, consider bringing your pet to a specific indoor pet establishment, such as the Canine Commons, coming soon to downtown and West Omaha. 

#5: Hit the treadmill

A simple but effective treadmill session isn’t for pet owners only. When your pet needs a healthy dose of exercise, look no further than your indoor gym for a supervised walk or trot on the treadmill. For safety reasons, never force your pet onto a treadmill, or leash her to the machine. We encourage the treadmill if your pet can enjoy it safely, but if not, opt for another exercise option.

#6: Organize a scavenger hunt

For a fun game, hide your pet’s favorite toys that are mixed in with a few treats or pieces of kibble. A scavenger hunt not only gets your pet moving around, but also helps keep her mind sharp and bright. 

#7: Use puzzle toys

Puzzle toys and feeders are also great options that incorporate physical and mental exercise. From tugging toys, to rolling treat dispensers, to sniff mats, a variety of options that challenge and reward pets are available. This website lists items for dogs and cats. 

#8: Schedule a pet playdate

What better way for pets to get physically fit than with a bunch of furry friends? Help fulfill your pet’s social needs by incorporating other pets into her exercise routine. You can schedule an indoor playdate, providing there is enough safe space to romp around, meet up at the local dog park, or go for a winter hike together. Never force interaction with another pet, and always make a first meeting short, monitoring your pet for signs of anxiety or stress. 

#9: Enroll in a course or training program

Depending on your hobbies, you can enroll your pet in a myriad of courses. From agility, to therapy training, to water rescue, an organized class or program can simultaneously ensure your pet gets the exercise she needs, while encouraging her innate ability to work. 

#10: Consider doggy daycare

When winter weather prohibits outdoor fun, consider leaving your pet at a reputable daycare center for a day of fun, socialization, and physical activity. Most facilities require certain vaccinations, and may recommend a tour with your pet prior to drop-off, so ensure you schedule in advance. 

At Urgent Pet Care Omaha, we encourage our pet owners and patients to enjoy a safe, fun, healthy winter season. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding winter exercise with your pet.