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Posted by gooddogdc on March 6, 2015 at 5:50 PM

So, now that we are battling the never-ending winter, exercise challenges are facing us all!  Signs that your dog might be under exercised - constant barking, whining, jumping, pulling on the leash, intensified separation anxiety, increased reactivity to other dogs or people, increased fearful behavior, and the list goes on...  Basically, for most behavior problems that you are going to deal with with your dog, exercise is a huge component in changing your dog's behavior for the better.

It is not just enough to throw some toys around inside or take them in the backyard and play with them. Those things help, but they are not going to give you the calm, happy dog that you will get through walking outdoors.

Even my 10-year-old, 14-lb girl still needs to get out and exercise. With her, I don't need to do as much, but I still try to give her 20 minutes 2x per day, even in the snow.  When her feet get cold, I brush them off and she is usually ready to go pretty quick!  Or, if it is really cold and icy, we'll do a block, come back in and warm up, and then do one more block.

I always find that exercising on bad-weather days is a bit like going to the gym.  It is pretty miserable to think about and difficult to get motivated, but once you are there, it is not so bad.  And, when you are done, you feel awesome!

I recommend dressing up in warm clothing.  Good cold weather gear helps a lot, you can find awesome stuff at sporting good stores. 

Once you are dressed appropriately, it is actually a great time to go for a hike, since you will likely have the whole park mostly to yourself.  The isolation makes it is the perfect opportunity to work on off-leash reliability (use a long line if your dog is not trained yet) and obedience with distractions.  The above photo is of my dog on our hike today.  We worked on off-leash recalls, off-leash stays, and heeling, it was great!  And, running through the snow gave Max an even better workout, so I was able to accomplish a tired dog in 1/2 the normal time! 

Motivated yet?  If not, try just getting dressed in your warm clothes and resolve to go around 1 block.  Once you get outside, if you are feeling up to more, do it!  You might surprise yourself.  And, your dog will thank you for any extra exercise you can give!

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