Do you feel anxious or restless by the time March rolls around? If so, you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects people all over the world. Just like you, your dog gets the wintertime blahs, too – but practicing certain habits can help you and your dog get a spring in your step.
Spend Time Outdoors
A Swedish proverb states there is no bad weather – only bad clothing. If March’s persistent wet and windy cold has got you feeling down, put on some cold weather gear and head outside. Take advantage of any sunny day you can get and take a long walk together at lunchtime, when the light is bound to be brightest. If you keep a speedy pace, you’ll soon start feeling more cheerful – and fresh air really does do a body good.
Plan a Playdate
One of the best benefits of spring is seeing friends and neighbors emerge from their cocoons to spend time with others. Why not give your pooch the same treat? Invite a dog-owning friend over for the afternoon and watch as they become reacquainted. If your dogs have never met, plan to meet in a new location where neither dog is likely to feel possessive. An unfamiliar dog park, nature trail or neighborhood fits the bill perfectly.
Stay on a Schedule
Isn’t it easy to sleep a little longer when the weather gets gloomy? As tempting as it is to hit snooze one more time – or turn off the alarm altogether – avoid the winter doldrums by sticking to a regular schedule. Not only will this reassure your dog that things are proceeding as usual, it will prevent you from disrupting your normal body clock. Too much sleep can even disrupt your hormones and is a risk factor for depression, which is reason enough to get up on time even if you don’t have a dog.
Has a month of eating sugary, fatty foods turned a sometime-treat into an all-the-time bad habit? If so, it’s time to turn back the clock on your diet to summer. If you’re not above feeding your favorite furry friend with a little sampling of whatever you’re having, it’s time to put that practice to rest, too. Most foods that are appropriate for humans are not appropriate for dogs – especially if they’re packed with added salt or sugar. Some foods, including chocolate and raisins, can be downright toxic. Stick to healthy portions of high-quality dog food and treats instead.
Take a Training Class
Late winter is the perfect time to try a new activity with your dog. If you have a new puppy, a training class can show you the finer points of sit, stay, come and even walking off-leash. If you have an adult dog who thrives on action, try an agility training class. Regardless of what you choose, getting your dog out of the house for an activity designed just for the two of you is bound to make those chilly wintertime days pass by quickly – and get you ready for a springtime filled with sunshine, happy walks and wagging tails.