Winter is coming...

3 tips for getting you and your dog through

A week of plummeting temperatures and heavy rain has reminded us here in Sydney that Summer is but a hazy memory. Although he's supposed to be used to this sort of weather, even Joe had trouble getting out of bed this week!

Rather than settle into hibernation and getting wrapped in the glum mood, we prefer to focus on the positives. And the chances are, if you're reading this, you already have a trusty sidekick to help you battle the winter blues. Here are our tops tips for getting through it together!

Winter Walks

While our wonderful weather is made for long days at the beach or park (most of the time), sometimes the heat can make our daily walks pretty uncomfortable, right?

Well, this is the perfect time of year to make the walks a little longer - change the route up without having to worry about dehydration and seeking shade.

Getting outside and exercising is one of the best ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it works just as well for dogs! There is an increasing belief in the scientific community that dogs can also suffer from SAD. Given they're so finely attuned to our behaviour, this doesn't really come as a suprise!

The lack of sunlight and shorter days in winter can result in:

  • Lethargy
  • Appetite changes
  • Loss of interest or avoidance
  • Self-soothing behaviour (such as paw licking)

Sounds a lot like us right? Aside from the paw licking perhaps...

A great way to boost both of your serotonin levels is to go for nice long walks together. This time of year brings a whole new range of smells to discover, particularly after rainfall, and you'll both feel much better after.

Top tip:  head out at sunrise to complement our natural circadian rhythm

Summer Bodies Good Dogs are made in Winter!

If you can get walks done in the mornings, then the long dark evenings are perfect for getting in some training. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out affair - even as little as 15 minutes will give your pup the mental stimulation and attention for another boost of that happy hormone, dopamine.

Consistent daily training games will producing amazing results!

Here are 3 of our simple favourites:

  • Treasure hunt: a great game to get your dog to use their senses and stimulate their brain. Start off by hiding a favourite toy somewhere obvious, even letting them watch where you put it. Give them the release command to retrieve it and reward them when they do. If you haven't worked a release command into their repertoire - then start with this! Once they understand the game, increase the difficulty by placing the object behind or underneath boxes and let them use their nose to find it!
  • New trick: expand your dog's creativity by incorporating this game into their training regime. It's perfect if they're already used to using a clicker as a training aide. Start off by clicking and saying "new trick" and then reward any new behaviour offered (e.g. sitting). Then "new trick" again - if they do something different (e.g. lie down), reward again. If not, try again. Don't reward the same behaviour twice and your pup will soon grasp the idea. They love this one, as it allows a little creativity on their behalf while still working within the boundaries of the training
  • The name game: they already know words for a lot of things, right? Sit, stay, GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW?! (or is that last one just us?). Why not spend some time expanding their vocabulary? It requires patience and a bit of time but they'll get it. Start by deciding what you would like them to do with the item - e.g. pick it up, or place their paw on it depending on what command they are already familiar with. We'd suggest also starting with a toy they know. Say the name you'd like to associated with it and the action command (e.g. hold). Reward when they complete the activity. Once they have the hang with one, introduce a second... and then ask them to complete specific actions with them all laid out in front of them

With consistent training, you'll not only have a happy, stimulated pup - once Spring comes around, you'll be able to take to the beaches and parks with confidence that you've established some amazing ground rules with your pup. The other reason we love this, is that if you can't get out for a couple of days due to heavy weather, they'll still be stimulated and happy with the brain exercise!

More Snuggles!

Snuggles, cuddles, squeezes, nuzzles, pets, pats, rubs, hugs... whatever you call them, they're one of the best parts of paw-renthood. And one of the things we love about feeding raw is that you can do all of this without the dog smell that comes from feeding dry food!

Snuggling up to your pup triggers the release of oxytocin and has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, a recent Swedish study found that:

"Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-case death in the general population."

 

Now, if that doesn't make you want to go and snuggle them right now, we don't know what will!

We all know it's hard to take that first step sometimes though, so we would love to see pics of you and your pup doing one of the above. Share it with us on Facebook or Insta - you never know, it might be just the inspiration someone needs to take that first step!

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