Just because cold weather has moved in doesn’t mean you and your dog can’t enjoy the outdoors. There are many activities you can do outdoors with your pup.
Here are our must-try suggestions of cold weather sports for dogs.
Must-Try Cold Weather Sports for Dogs
Snowshoeing gives you both a great workout. You’ll need to have a pair of snowshoes as these will help you sink into the snow less. And if you have a hands-free leash for your dog, you can even grab a set of poles to get a full body workout.
Make sure that you and your dog are bundled up. You’ll work up a sweat, so you might want to bundle up with layers, but you should bundle up your dog. They’ll likely need protection from the cold and snow, so a pair of booties might not be a bad idea too.
Skijoring is like the sibling to snowshoeing. It’s very similar. The main difference? You use skis instead of snowshoes. You can cover large distances with your dog pulling you on skis, so a nature trail is usually the best choice.
You should be using your skis and poles to keep up with your dog, but let your dog set the pace. They should also be trained to understand commands so you can feel confident that you and your dog will be safe while in the great outdoors.
Your dog can get a great low impact workout by hiking. The best part about hiking is that you can tailor your workout to how intense you want it to be.
You can decide to make a small outing around the block. Or if you and your dog are well-trained and well-equipped, you can do a multi-day hike and bring your camping equipment on your back. Whatever your experience level is, you can change the intensity you want easily for a better workout.
Sledding with your dog isn’t about running up a powder covered hill and riding down. Your dog can get a full workout by pulling you on a kick sled. These sleds are meant to be stood on and you would be also kicking to give yourself more speed. All the while, your dog is attached to the sled with a harness and is pulling you. So, your dog is pulling while you’re pushing.
Not only is kick sledding a great workout for you, it is a full workout for your dog. They work a variety of muscles while pulling. Just make sure you get your dog a well-fitting harness before they start pulling anything.
Canicross is very similar to dog sledding though it’s done without a sled. You have one dog or a group of dogs harnessed together and then harnessed to a person. The cord attaching the dogs to the person is usually a bungee cord to help absorb some of the shock from the pulling dogs.
While canicross has become popular in Europe, it is only now gaining popularity in the United States. This sport appeals to people because it can be done year-round. You don’t need snow on the ground to go out running with your dog.
Things to Remember in Cold Weather
While some breeds love to be outside in the cold, there are some dogs who just aren’t built for it. Before you go into the cold for a workout, make sure you and your dog are both up to it.
- Consider getting your dog a sweater or coat. Even if your dog is built for winter runs, there are precautions you can take if they still want to be outdoors. If your dog is a shorthair, they’ll certainly thank you. If your dog also has long fur between their toes, be sure to keep it trimmed. This fur can get caked up with snow and ice and become very uncomfortable. If you don’t want to trim their fur, you can even get them some booties. This can help keep their feet warm and dry.
- Consider your physical fitness level and that of your dog. If you are both a bit out of shape, don’t jump headfirst into strenuous work. You’ll want to ease into more difficult workouts. As long as you take it slow to start, you won’t injure yourself or your dog and have to spend a time recovering.
- It’s best to protect yourself from the elements while you’re outdoors, but be sure to take care of yourself once you get back home. Winter air is very dry. A little coconut oil can do wonders on your skin, but it’s also great to rub into your dog’s paws. You can even add just a little bit to your dog’s food to help promote healthy skin, nails and fur.
If you’ve never attempted cold-weather sports for dogs, now is a good time to start! Improve your health and that of your dog by staying active in the cold winter months.