Winter Activities For You And Your Dog

The winter months can be hectic times with holiday planning and family gatherings. Combined with our regular day to day responsibilities like work, house cleaning, shopping, a precious few moments of peace and quiet can more than urge you to curl up with a good book on the couch or read the paper and watch movies all day snuggled in bed. If you can get away with it, indulge yourself every once in a while!

But remember, dogs don't care much for the latest mystery novel or miniseries. Not only do they need a little special attention every once in a while, but regardless of the weather and responsibilities of our lives, they need their outdoor time and exercise. An under-exercised dog can suffer from boredom, which can lead to behavioral problems, obesity, depression and other health hazards. So let's zip up the coat, pull on the boots, grab the leash and take a look at a few popular things your dog and the whole family can get involved in together outdoors this winter!

A word of caution: if your dog is not used to regular exercise, or you are trying something new, consider his age and/or over all health. Please consult your vet and maybe even get a physical exam if he has not had one recently before engaging in anything new. Start out slow even with fit dogs - and take your time. With older dogs and those with health problems, a simple brisk walk for several minutes a day in the chilly winter weather may be just what the doctor ordered.

Agility

Dog agility is a sport in which a handler is given a set amount of time in which to direct a dog off-leash through an obstacle course of poles, ramps, tunnels and jumps. Agility is one of the fastest growing dog activities in the country. You can participate in competitions or just do it for fun with a dog club or in your own back yard! It's an exciting and rewarding activity that the whole family can participate in. And if you do your own thing at home, you can make up your own courses and obstacles, so its always different!

Of course if you aren't going to compete you can do a lot of teaching and playing with agility on your own. I have a friend that regularly takes her dogs to the park to play on the children's playground equipment. You should see this dog compete with the children for a place in line to go down the slide! Remember -- go slowly and carefully to avoid injury and never force your dog on or in any equipment. The American Kennel Club has a listing of obedience and agility clubs by geographic area. Your dog's veterinarian, groomer, local kennel club or humane society may also help in locating an agility group.

Click here to visit the American Kennel Club website!

- adopt, foster, volunteer and until there are none ... save at least one -