During the spring and summer, there’s nothing better than soaking up some sun with your furry friend. From walks around the block to games of fetch in the yard, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy when the weather is nice. Unfortunately, spending time outside isn’t as simple when cold weather hits.
During the winter, it can be difficult to make sure your dog is getting the physical and mental stimulation it needs.
However, if your dog doesn’t get the chance to play, it may become bored, frustrated or even depressed. It’s important you give your dog the opportunity to release that pent-up energy, even when it’s freezing outside. Here are some of the best winter activities dogs that you can do with your furry friend.
7 Winter Activities For Dogs
Visit an Indoor Dog Park
One of the biggest problems dogs encounter during the winter months is a lack of socialization. If your pet gets most of its canine interaction during trips to dog parks, it may be harder for it to meet other dogs when it’s cold out. However, it’s far from impossible. Many neighborhoods are opening indoor dog parks, which provide a safe (and warm) indoor space where your dog can play with its puppy peers.
If you want your dog to get some physical exercise, try to find an indoor dog park that comes with equipment designed to keep pets active. For example, some parks may offer ramps or tunnels for dogs to run through.
Spend Time With Your Dog Inside
Many people mistakenly believe that spending time outdoors is the only way to entertain their dog. In reality, you can provide plenty of entertainment — as well as physical and mental stimulation — inside your home. Here are a few things you can try:
- Teach your dog a new trick
- Play fetch inside
- Set up a scavenger hunt
- Run around indoors
- Play with your dog’s favorite toy
If you’re looking to buy new toys, search for ones that will engage your pet mentally. These include chew toys, puzzle toys and toys that let you hide treats (such as treat-dispensing balls).
Set Up an Indoor Agility Course
Do you want your dog to stay active when it’s too cold to leave the house? Try setting up an indoor agility course. A homemade obstacle course gives your dog the chance to stretch its legs without suffering from the cold. This course can be made using regular household objects, such as:
You can use treats to guide your dog through the obstacle course. Alternatively, you can run it together — this can be a great bonding activity.
Safely Walk Your Dog
During winter, most of us bundle up in coats, scarves and gloves to protect ourselves from the cold. While a dog’s coat offers some natural protection, it’s not enough to prevent them from getting too cold. Fortunately, there are ways to preserve your dog’s health while taking them on walks in the winter. Here are some tips on how to walk your dog safely.
Get a Dog Coat
Just like people, dogs are vulnerable to conditions like hypothermia. Characterized by shivers, lethargy and an increased heartbeat, hypothermia can cause problems with breathing, blood flow and the immune system. To help keep your dog warm and reduce the risk of hypothermia, try dressing them up in a snug winter coat.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
In the winter, the ground often becomes coated with snow and ice. Walking on these substances can hurt your dog’s toes, causing pain, scabs and even frostbite. To prevent this from happening, cover its paws with booties before going outside. If your dog resists wearing shoes, you can try coating its paws with a protective paw wax instead.
When a dog pulls on the leash, it can cause pain and make it difficult to walk it safely. Avoid pulling the leash back, as this can reinforce bad behaviors. Instead, carry a few treats with you to distract it. When your dog stops pulling, reward it with a treat to let it know you approve of its behavior.
Provide Water and Warmth
Many dog owners don’t realize that winter can cause dehydration in pets. It’s important to make sure your dog is staying hydrated throughout the year. Most dogs will drink water after a walk, so try to keep a bowl of fresh water ready when you come home. It’s also a good idea to warm up a towel and wipe your pet thoroughly to restore warmth.
Keep Walks Short
When it’s cold out, you should try to limit your walks to no more than 15 to 20 minutes. Keep in mind that small breeds and older dogs are especially vulnerable to the cold — if you have a tiny puppy or a senior dog, you might want to avoid being outdoors for more than 10 minutes at a time.
Play in the Snow
Dogs are like little kids when it comes to snow — they might leap into a pile of snow or start rolling around on the ground as soon as snowflakes start to fall. As long as you take the proper safety precautions (including dressing your dog in warm clothes and limiting outdoor time), there’s no reason you can’t play in the snow together. Here are a few snow-based activities you can try.
Play Snowball Fetch
Does your dog enjoy playing fetch? If so, snowfall is the perfect opportunity to play some games. You don’t even have to get a tennis ball — you can just create balls for them to chase using snow. As you play, make sure your dog is staying warm. If you notice any signs that your pet is too cold (such as sneezing or avoiding using a paw), take it inside.
Everyone enjoys sledding in the winter, including dogs. Next time you hike down to the local hill for a sleigh ride, consider bringing your pet with you — it can fit comfortably on your sled and enjoy the ride. When doing this, make sure someone is with your dog at all times. It can be dangerous to let a pet sled alone.
Set Up a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body. Fortunately, snow offers the perfect place to hide treats. Simply bury some treats in the snow for your dog, then watch as it hunts for its reward! Try not to forget your hiding places — otherwise, you’ll end up with spoiled treats when the snow thaws.
Make a Snow Maze
Any dogs that enjoy obstacle courses will absolutely love snow mazes. Making a maze is simple — all you have to do is shuffle around the snow and create different paths. Once your maze is complete, let your dog loose! It’ll have tons of fun trying to navigate the maze and make it to the other end. If it gets stuck, you can give it a helping hand by guiding it with treats.
Go Cross-Country Skiing
Skijoring, or ski driving, is a new activity that’s becoming popular with dog owners who live in cold areas. It combines cross-country skiing with the classic activity of dog sledding. While your dog wears a sledding harness, you’ll put on a special skijoring harness (which is connected to your dog’s harness). Then, as you propel yourself forward with skis and poles, your dog will run alongside and even guide you.
Skiing with your dog is a great way for it to get exercise and work through the winter blues. However, because this activity is physically challenging, it’s more suitable for larger dogs. To protect your dog’s paws from the snow, be sure to equip them with protection (such as dog booties).
Snuggle Up Inside
While many dogs enjoy spending time in the snow, others are reluctant to set foot in the cold. Every pet is different — it’s important to evaluate your own pet’s behaviors and determine whether it’s suitable for the winter. If your dog tugs on the leash and tries to head back inside when it’s cold out, you may want to stick to indoor activities. Some fun indoor winter activities for dogs include:
- Cuddling on the couch
- Sitting by the fire
- Baking treats
- Painting together
- Watching a movie
If you want your dog to get some socialization, invite one of its puppy pals over. You can even do a winter activity with their owners, making it a fun time for everyone!
The winter months can be frigid and frosty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your dog. There are plenty of outdoor and indoor activities you can enjoy with your pet, giving it the entertainment and happiness it needs.
While you can make winter fun, it’s important to remember that the cold can cause health problems in your dog. To protect your precious pet from things like hypothermia and frostbite, make sure to take proper safety measures. It’s also helpful to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed. At Pride & Prejudoodles, we offer extensive information about our dogs so you can take care of them year-round. Learn more about our delightful doodles by contacting us today!