healthier together cuddling with champ
Cold weather's terrible, but exercise is still required

This post is sponsored by Nulo™ and the BlogPawsTM Pet Influencer NetworkTM. I am being compensated to help share information about Nulo, but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers. Nulo is not responsible for the content of this article,

True story: I hate cold weather. Hate it with an undying passion. If I have to put more than a single, solitary layer on to stay warm, part of me dies inside. Inevitably, it’s the happy, nice part of me.

You’ve been warned.

I know, however, that other people don’t feel the same way. I have these weirdo friends who love cold weather (God bless their misguided souls), who strangely prefer working out in the cold than in the heat. Using their habits as guidelines, I’ve tried to learn to exercise in the cold, but no matter how I try, winter weather is not for me.

And yet, there’s this harsh thing called reality. A reality where Texas sometimes gets cold. A reality where I work from home in a tiny house. A reality where I share said tiny house with three large dogs, two of them young, all of them active. A reality where if we skip our daily workouts, all of our lives turn into a literal disaster. I can’t work, they can’t settle down, and none of us are happy.

It’s unpleasant.

Unfortunately, in the last few weeks I’ve had to work through the unpleasantness. You see, my oldest dog recently injured one of her feet. She was put on strict orders by the vet not to move around, which meant I couldn’t take the three of them on their usual morning walk (I can’t sneak out of the house with just two of them). Then it got cold, and my desire to stand in our frigid backyard to play catch with the younger two rated negative bajillion on a scale of one to ten.

sad champ and maybe

 

See how sad Champ and Maybe look? They wish they were going for a walk.

Sure, the younger two have each other to play with, and they do a lot of that, but if you have dogs of your own, you know they all have their own personalities, and Maybe, in particular, doesn’t want to just play with Champ, she wants to play with me.

That’s where toys come in.

I’ve spent more on dog toys since adopting Maybe and Champ, than I ever spent with our original pack of pups (RIP Billie and Scooby). I quite literally pick up new toys every time I go to any store.

christmas penguin dog toy

I’m a sucker for cute toys, like this Christmas penguin I found at PetSmart. I’m saving it as a surprise for the dogs on Christmas morning.

The thing is, I don’t buy toys just to keep the dogs occupied. I buy toys to keep them active when they’re inside. I buy balls they can chase, ropes they can tug on, and hard chew toys I can slide across our tile floors so the dogs go skittering after them.

tug of war

We probably go through a good rope toy every single week.

The thing is, exercise and play are good for the dogs and me, I make a point of using these toys with them, especially now that it’s cold outside and we’re all moving around a little less

Maybe loves playing tug-of-war, and Champ loves playing keep-away and fetch, so I’ll get in on the action and work with both of them in a massive Fetch-Tug-Keep-Away game. Frankly, it wears us all out. Granted, it’s not the perfect substitute for our long walks (more on that later), but it’s a good way to get us up and active without having to brave the chilly weather. I tried to get a picture of the game in action, but we were all moving so much, I had to take video, instead. Just check it out – we’re really working, and this was at the end of a good 15-minute play session. For the last couple weeks we’ve been doing two of these every day – one in the morning and another in the afternoon. It’s the perfect way to add some extra exercise and play time without heading outside.

This coming week, though, Abby will be cleared to exercise again, so we’ll be back to taking our morning walks. And just like last year, we’ll take them every single day, rain or shine, snow or heat. It’s good for us, and if you’ve got dogs, it’s good for you, too.

That doesn’t make it pleasant, though.

General tips for making outside winter workouts with your dog less terrible

If you’re a winter weather-hater like me, here’s how I make it work, despite the brutal temperatures:

  1. Bundle up. Wear more layers than you think you need, just make sure they’re easy to take off if you get overheated. Of special importance: gloves, warm socks (wool socks are wonderful), and beanies. I don’t know about you, but if my ears, fingers, or toes get cold, I’m absolutely miserable.
  2. Pay attention to your dog’s comfort level. Dogs may have some serious fur, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to cold weather. My oldest dog, Abby, has super short fur, so if she’s out in the cold very long, she’ll start to shiver. All dogs are different, though, so pay attention. If your dog seems uncomfortable, or if her paws seem cracked or painful after you exercise outside, it’s probably time to focus more on indoor play, or to look into dog coats and booties to keep them warm and dry when exercising outside. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has more great tips for keeping your dog safe when it’s cold.
  3. Shorten your workouts. You may be loathe to cut a session short, but when it’s very cold out, shorter workouts may be exactly what you and your pup need. Your body actually has to burn more calories to stay warm when cold weather strikes, and even if you’re exercising vigorously, your body temperature may start to drop the longer you’re outside. It’s no different for your dog. Slightly shorter workouts will still feel challenging without risking hypothermia for you or your pet.
  4. Focus on good human and pet nutrition, as well as total health. Muscle is thermogenic. That means it creates heat. When you and your dog are muscley and strong, you’re more capable of handling cold weather workouts and recovering quickly when you come in from the cold.  I pay a significant attention to my own nutrition, focusing on a diet filled with lean protein, organic produce, and complex carbohydrates. I pay the same favor forward to my dogs. If you haven’t already read my last two Nulo posts, it’s worth checking them out (here and here) – we’ve seen significant improvements in Champ’s health since switching him to Nulo’s premium, high meat protein dog food. High-quality food in people and pets helps to support muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy, while also ensuring your body continues to click away on all cylinders, functioning at its most optimal level. It’s kinda a big deal.

To make it through the rest of what looks to be a brutal winter, pick up a slew of dog toys and check out Nulo at your local PetSmart or online. Trust me, you and your pet will benefit.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nulo. The opinions and text are all mine.

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