Goodbye Winter Blues—5 Ways To Get Active With Your Dog This Spring

When spring comes along, we often get a burst of energy. We feel the urge to go outside and move around after long winter months spent mostly indoors. So it should come as no surprise that April is both Active Dog Month and National Canine Fitness month!  Whatever you call it, it’s a great time for you and your dog to say goodbye to those winter blues and start building healthy new habits.

5 ways you and your dog can say goodbye to winter blues

  1. Daily walks

Assuming no health or mobility issues, walking is the easiest way to get active with your dog. It’s a wonderful healthy bonding experience. And, if your dog is overweight, it’s a safe way to exercise them. You can start by walking just 30 minutes a day. For dogs, consistency is more important than quantity. You can walk around town, go to events, visit parks. By the time winter rolls around again, daily walks will be your favorite new habit.

  1. Hikes

Hiking is a weekly or monthly activity your high-energy dog will love. Make sure to bring enough water for everyone and always have a leash with you. Off-leash hikes should only happen away from the road and where it is safe for both your dog and nearby wildlife.

  1. Play fetch:

Playing fetch will help burn off the excess energy of dogs with a strong ball drive. Variations include frisbee games or tossing other toys.

Fetch also has other uses: my small, ball-focused senior dog, Steve, wants to engage mentally and physically but now tires quickly on walks. If I throw the ball for him a few times at home, he’s happy as a clam. He gets to play, has my attention, and can just stop when he’s tired. Given his size, I can modify the game to play indoors when it’s raining.

  1. Search & find:

“Active” applies to the mind as well as the body.  Search games work well with toy- and food-motivated dogs who enjoy problem-solving. You could decide to formally train your dog to do search tricks.Or you might prefer to engage your buddy by hiding treats around the house or yard.

I keep it even simpler with Steve: when he needs attention and I’m busy, I just tell him to “find it!” He goes around the house looking for the first available toy. When he comes back with his prize, I tell him what a good boy he is and it makes his day. He likes to collect several toys in one place.

  1. Agility Training: if they have the temperament, agility is a fantastic, fun way to keep dogs active. But don’t start there. Agility is for healthy, energetic, handler-focused dogs who enjoy the work. Remember, fitness comes first.

These and many other activities are available all year round. Once they become habits, they’ll help keep the winter blues at bay, even if you do slow down a bit. And just remember, the happier and healthier your dog is, the longer you’ll be together.