During the winter months, it’s tempting to want to hunker down at home and cozy up on the couch until the weather warms up. As happy as your pup is to spend some quality cuddle time together, though, he still needs to get outside. (And let’s be honest: you could use the fresh air, too.)
Dogs need year-round physical activity and mental stimulation, so don’t let the cold winter weather stop you and your dog from venturing outdoors. Read on for some of our favorite fun winter dog activities to enjoy with your furry friend!
Winter Safety Tips for Dogs
As much as we want to prioritize winter fun, safety always comes first. Before you set out for your winter dog-friendly activities, make sure your pooch will be safe and warm while he plays in the snow.
Some top winter safety tips for dogs include:
Keep your dog warm. Depending on your dog’s breed and coat type, the way your dog stays warm in the winter can vary. For example, small/toy and short-haired breeds such as Chihuahuas may need an extra winter coat to wear on top of their fur. For added warmth, we recommend putting a towel in the dryer when you go outside so you have something nice and warm to wrap your pup in when you come back inside.
Limit time outdoors. While it’s important to get outside on a regular basis, it’s okay to keep those snowy play sessions short and sweet. If you notice any signs of a cold dog such as shivering, cold ears and feet, lethargy, and slowed breathing, it’s time to head inside. Try to take your dog outside when the sun is at its peak for added warmth.
Provide plenty of water. We tend to think of dehydration as a summer issue, but dogs still need water in the winter. If your pup will be playing outside for a while, bring your own water so he’s not tempted to eat snow, which could potentially be filled with chemicals, dirt, and salt.
Pamper his paws. As soon as you come back inside from a snowy play session, clean Fido’s paws to remove any salt, antifreeze, or chemicals that he may try to lick off later. It may also be helpful to invest in some winter dog boots to protect your pup’s paws from the elements and provide some added warmth.
- Be mindful of joint and health issues. Winter weather can exacerbate joint and mobility issues, so your dog may need some extra TLC—as do dogs who have a difficult time regulating their body temperature. Don’t push your pooch past his limits; some dogs may be better off getting their exercise indoors during the colder months.
Dog-Friendly Winter Activities
And now for the fun stuff! Here are some of our favorite winter dog activities to enjoy with your furry best friend.
Skiing or Sledding
If you’re into cross-country skiing, try bringing your dog along for a ride. Using a long line connected to your dog’s harness, allow him to run in front of you while pulling you behind him. Or, try having your dog pull a kid-filled sled behind him for a fun activity for the whole family.
Before you try these activities, make sure your dog knows and follows commands for turning, slowing down, and stopping.
Hiking or Snowshoeing
If your dog loves hiking with you in the summer, why not bring him along for a winter hike? It’s a great way to expose your dog to new sights and smells while providing plenty of exercise and bonding time.
Make sure you choose a pet-friendly trail and keep a close eye out for ice or other hazards.
This classic dog activity can be done year-round. Just try to use a bright ball or frisbee that’s easy to find in the snow (although the extra nose work is also a great form of mental exercise). You could even try playing with snowballs, though it may not be nearly as satisfying for Fido when he can’t find the ball!
Avoid encouraging your dog to run near ice. Even if it’s thick, it could be a slipping hazard.
If you have a yard (or even access to a park with enough space), create your own snow maze for your dog. Using a shovel to make narrow pathways in the snow with fun twists and turns; you can also try turning it into an obstacle course with extra challenges such as snow piles to leap over or tunnels to squeeze through.
This can be a great form of entertainment, physical activity, and mental stimulation. Just make sure to monitor your dog closely, especially if he’s going to be climbing through snow tunnels that could potentially collapse.
Of course, we can’t forget about the most basic dog activity: daily walks. Even if your dog isn’t a fan of the cold and snow, he still needs to get outside for his bathroom breaks and exercise.
If your dog doesn’t love the winter, you can try going on shorter walks during peak sun hours for extra warmth.
When the weather—or your dog—doesn’t permit an outdoor adventure, there are still plenty of options: conduct an indoor training session, invest in some dog puzzles, or even create your own indoor agility course if you have the space.
Once your dog has been able to use up some of that pent-up energy, you can cuddle up together with a favorite holiday movie, or spend some time baking homemade dog treats.
Promote your dog’s overall health with Pet Honesty’s 10-for-1 Multivitamin Chews. This well-rounded blend of vitamins and supplements is great for supporting your dog’s joints, immune system, skin, and digestion, no matter what time of year.