For dogs, a huge part of remaining physically and mentally sound involves exercise and lots of it. When the weather goes wild, so can an understimulated, bored, pent up dog! Inclement weather often causes major issues with getting enough activity to keep a Service Dog focused, relaxed, and happy. Learn about indoor energy burners and some easy alternatives anyone can use! Service Dog trainers and handlers everywhere know that top performance from a canine partner requires careful balancing of work, play, and learning. Any deficits in a dog's care can cause an avalanche of issues with a dog's training or work, especially if the lapse involves nutrition, rest, or exercise. Exercise in particular, experts say, has the biggest ripple effect on a dog's behavior. "A tired dog is a happy dog," canine behaviorists often joke. However, a lack of activity is no laughing matter, as it can disrupt even the most well-trained dog's ability to focus and function. Unfortunately for dog lovers everywhere, though, Mother Nature doesn't care about your Service Dog's exercise needs. Endless rain, gray skies, and chilly temperatures often make going outside to exercise your Service Dog a real challenge. When inclement weather continues for days or even weeks on end, it can get increasingly more difficult to meet your Service Dog's need for a solid workout. Fortunately, though, there are tons of easy ways to exercise a dog indoors, some of which you may not have considered! Use Your Dog's Natural Play Style to Exercise Indoors To discover ideas that might work for you and your dog, begin by examining your dog's play style. Different breeds tend towards distinct categories of play, but every dog remains an individual. As an example, lots of herding dogs play chase games. Many bully breed dogs, however, prefer body slamming and full contact wrestling. What types of games and activities does your partner enjoy? Many play styles readily adapt to indoor activities. Pups who enjoy tugging, contact and wrestling games, or softer / solo play types entertain easily indoors. Think creatively and use items lying around the house. Maybe dining room chairs magically morph part of a maze or a blanket becomes a hideout for a chase game. Full Body Motions Burn Lots of Energy (and Yeah, a Bit of Equipment Helps) For dogs with more active play styles or those with higher energy, working on jumps, send outs, or highly physical tricks offer plenty of opportunities to burn
2019 ushered in frigid weather and extreme cold across the United States. In late January and early February, the Midwestern states experienced subzero temperatures lasting days. Experts say staying in offers the most safety for humans and dogs alike, but for many Service Dog teams, particularly those that rely on public transportation, that's just not feasible. Keep reading to learn more about extreme cold weather safety for Service Dogs. Dangers of Extreme Cold Weather Whether or not there's snow on the ground, dangers of extreme cold abound. First, there's the cold itself. Exposure to cold for long enough results in a dangerous condition called "hypothermia." Hypothermia occurs when the body cannot keep itself warm. It most frequently occurs in those exposed to the elements or in those who are inappropriately dressed for the weather. When the cold is extreme enough, even a few minutes is enough to cause damage. Wind compounds the problem by making it feel colder than the actual temperature. Humidity and water cause the body to lose heat even quicker. Fun Fact: "According to physics experts, the freezing point of saliva is typically between -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit." Staying warm in extreme weather requires lots of energy. The body needs quality fuel in order to maintain its core body temperature. A core body temperature of 101 - 102.5F requires a dog's metabolism to work harder than a human's to stay warm. As such, a lack of calories can be a danger of extremely cold weather. On a similar note, biting winds and below freezing temps create a lack of available drinking water. Contrary to popular belief, it's very difficult to eat enough snow to meet a body's daily water needs. Additionally, melting that snow and heating it to body temp wastes valuable calories and energy. Finally, extreme weather brings lots of chemical use, especially in cities. Salt helps control ice. Antifreeze is everywhere. Businesses cover sidewalks in silt or sand to increase traction. Antifreeze is deadly to most animals, including dogs, and salt can cause digestive upsets and chemical burns. Factors That Affect Cold Tolerance Many people believe that dogs are adapted to survive outdoors. While that may have once been true, for many of today's domesticated canines, things have changed. In contrast with their wolfy ancestors, many dog breeds now have a short, thin coat and are more adapted to chilling on the living room floor than to running in the forest hunting down food.