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10 ways to exercise your dog in the winter

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It's cold, dark and the bed is oh-so comfy. "Surely the dog doesn't need a walk every day," you mutter to yourself. 

Sound familiar? 

Edmonton's annual six-month cold snap -- also known as winter -- sends many dogs and dog owners scurrying for the blankets and hanging up the leash. 

Master dog trainer Bev Kerr of Hound Sense says lack of activity -- during any season -- can cause several problems in dogs, including:

- Weight gain
- Muscle deterioration which can lead to injury
- Behavioural issues from lack of activity and socialization
- Boredom and frustration which can result in your dog finding ways to entertain himself (ie. Goodbye couch)

Luckily, you can get Fido up and moving in the comfort of your own living room. Here are Bev's Top Ten Tips to poop out your pooch during the colder months:

1. Tire your dog mentally: Teach her new things.  Make her think through challenging games or puzzles. This can go further than even the most vigorous run or walk. Ten minutes is enough to tire out some dog for hours.

2. Practice obedience: Try new commands or practice old ones from a distance, using hand signals only.

3. Take up nose-work: Get a treat or your dog's favourite toy. Get him to sit and stay. Show him the treat/toy, place it a few feet away in clear sight. Command him to "find it" then praise when he gets it. After he gets the hang of it, place the treat/toy further away, then in a different room. Perfect to do inside while a blizzard flies.

4. Hide treats or toy in the snow: Do same activity as above, or throw a toy into a snowbank and have Rover dig it out.

5. Exercise with your dog: Take a walk in the woods, go snowshoeing or try out skijoring.

6. Take a class: Agility, flyball, disc dog, to name a few.

7. Arrange a playdate: Dogs are social animals and many enjoy spending time with their own species.

8. Blow bubbles: Dogs like to chase and catch them.

9. Make walks more challenging: Maximize your strolls by working on obedience (sit or stay), putting a backpack on your dog, going to a new place, or getting her to to be calm in busy places.

10. Find the glove: While taking a walk, drop your glove, keep walking then ask your dog, "Where's my glove. Let's go find it!" Walk back and once he finds it, give him a big reward.

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