Outdoor fun with your pet this winter.

Outdoor fun with your pet this winter.

Now is the ideal time to enjoy outdoor activities with your dog. The ‘bite’ of winter hasn’t really hit us yet and so we’re able to enjoy crisp, sunny autumn days. Planning outings with your pet can make for a lot of fun in the last few weeks before winter.

Day trips

As long as your dog doesn’t suffer from motion sickness, taking a day trip to a scenic part of the outskirts of Sydney

The quaint towns of Robertson, Bowral or Picton to Sydney’s south are beautiful and your dog will relish in the freedom of bounding through the crunchy autumn leaves that have recently been shed. Be sure to research pet friendly coffee shops in these areas before you go as there are more and more springing up. Curling up with your pet and reading the papers over a freshly brewed beverage is sometimes just what the doctor ordered this time of year!

Before you set off on your day trip, remember to pack a waterbowl for your pet as even in cooler temperatures, they can overheat if they get to excited.

New tricks

When inclement weather hits Sydney, and leaving the house seems unpalatable, this is a perfect time to hone your pet’s trick repertoire and even teach some new ones. There are plenty of videos on various YouTube channels that demonstrate how to teach your dog tricks. ‘Walk around’ is an easy-to-teach trick that can be taught indoors in places with even very little room, simply lead your pet with a leash around your feet and reward each revolution with a treat. Consider also investing in a ‘clicker’ which can be used to signal that your pet has done the right behaviour that you are rewarding. Hide and go seek is another fun game you can play with your pet at home and can reinforce the recall response.

Discovering new walks

The end of autumn is a perfect time to enjoy brisk walking and we’re so lucky in Sydney to have literally hundreds of trail walks around the metropolitan area that are dog-friendly. www.sydney.com and the National Parks websites have plenty of information on local walks, their difficulty and their duration. One of my favourites is the Hermitage Foreshore Walk in Rose Bay which takes in expansive views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House – ensure your camera is packed for this one!

Classes and sport

If you haven’t considered getting your dog involved in flyball, agility or other competitive sports, winter is a great time to think about it. While the cooler mornings will require more motivation to get out of bed, your pet will perform better and be less likely to overheat. Winter is an especially good time for aerobic activities for our short-muzzled breeds like pugs and boxers who may experience exhaustion in hotter temperatures.

Older dogs

The symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and disc disease are more severe in the cooler temperatures, so try and restrict your older dog’s activity to the warmer temperatures around lunchtime if possible. At the same time, remember that to keep your older pet mobile, it is imperative to keep her moving, so don’t let weeks go by without a walk because of the inclement weather.

Wet weather

When the weather is really uninviting outside and you must keep indoors here are four tips to make it more enjoyable for your pet

  1. Diet
    Try rotating protein sources for interest – one day give fish, the other chicken and so on. Try freezing chicken necks, portions of meat and fish in an old ice cream bucket filled with water and giving it to your pet. This will entertain them for hours on a quiet day in. Remember, the dog’s ancestor – the wolf, spent most of his day hunting for food, and our companion pets
  2. Stair games
    If you’re lucky enough to live in a multi-level house, throw a ball up to the top of the stairs and let your dog run to the top to fetch the ball and return it to you. This will help to tire them out and as the old saying goes ‘happiness is a tired puppy’. If you have a dog prone to back problems such as a dachshund, make sure you don’t overdo this activity
  3. Obedience training
    Days restricted to the indoors are a great time to brush up on that trick repertoire.
  4. Brushing
    Take the opportunity of a quiet day in to give your pet a good ‘brush out’, not only will this help to de-matt your pet, but it will get your pet’s endorphins running and make them feel loved.

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Dr Sam, Southern Cross Vet, St Peters