Dogs enjoy fewer walks in the winter - because their owners don't like going out in the cold, a study has revealed.
Research revealed 56 per cent of owners admit their dogs get less exercise when the temperature drops due to dog lover's reluctance to venture outside.
Alarmingly, one in six admitted they pray for grim weather so they have an excuse to avoid taking their dog for a stroll.
As a result, dog owners reckon their pooch gets an hour less exercise every week compared to the summer.
Sean McCormack, head vet at dog nutrition company Tails.com, which commissioned the study, said: “Any dog which is living by a nutritious and healthy diet is going to remain as enthusiastic as ever about their daily walks, even as the temperature plummets and the heavens open.
“When this happens it’s easy to slip into hibernation mode and curl up on the sofa, but we want to encourage dog owners to don their thermals and pick up the lead – your dog will thank you for it.”
The study also found 36 per cent of owners have put off taking their dog out for a walk because they felt 'too tired'.
And one in five have found themselves so snowed under with other tasks in their lives they haven’t been able to find the time.
Fifty per cent of dog owners think they themselves also put on weight in the winter due to inactivity.
Of those who have fallen out of shape in the colder months, 58 per cent believe getting out and walking their dog helps to shift the winter pounds faster.
In response to the findings, Personal Trainer and Nutritionist Dan Osman started Doggy Bootcamp - an exercise regime to put dogs and dog owners through their paces – a way to get man and pup pumped in a tail-wagging workout when the weather gets chilly.
Dan Osman added: “It's cold and dark and wet outside, but your dog still wants to go out and burn off some energy.
“Dog owners have a responsibility to their four-legged friend to give them the happiest life possible, and sometimes that means going for walkies in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
“And while the benefits may not be clear at first, it is important to keep exercising with your dog through winter. It may even strengthen the bond between you.”
The study, conducted by OnePoll, also found 41 per cent of dog owners prioritised a healthy diet above all else to ensure a long and happy life for their dog.
And 39 per cent thought regular exercise was the most important factor in maintaining their pooch’s wellbeing.
One in two owners think their dog is happiest right after a good chance to stretch its legs and run around, and 43 per cent found regular exercise helps to keep their dog calm.
And almost nine in ten reported an improvement to their own mental well-being when they are able to get out with their dog regularly.
*Pooches looking for the expertise of a personal trainer to work off their winter weight now have Doggy Bootcamp – a range of exercises to get dogs out in the great outdoors and their owners sweating alongside them.
Dan Osman thought up Doggy Bootcamp to help dogs and dog owners get in shape and strengthen the bond between them.
The Doggy Bootcamp is broken down into four simple exercises which any human-canine duo can replicate on their next walkies.
Dan Osman, who put together the Doggy Bootcamp regime in support of Tails.com, said: “Exercise is the ideal way to strengthen the relationship between man and man’s best friend.