As the parent of a high-energy dog named Bailey, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to keep your dog active and engaged during the winter. Once the temperatures drop, my pup wants nothing more than to nap on the couch all day. But I’ve learned that consistent exercise is crucial for Bailey’s health and happiness, even when we’d both rather cuddle under a blanket.
Over the years, I’ve discovered some great ways to combat the winter doldrums and keep my energetic girl entertained all season long. Bailey and I have our favourite games, toys, and activities that we turn to when the weather outside gets frightful. I may have to get a bit creative at times, but it’s worth it to see my dog’s eyes light up with joy as we find new ways to play.
In this article, I’ll share all of my tried-and-true tips for exercising, enriching, and just plain having fun with your high-energy dog this winter. I’ve gathered activities for both indoors and out, so you can keep your pup engaged no matter what the weather brings. Bailey’s ready to frolic – let’s get your dog moving too!
1. Hide and Seek
This classic childhood game is a perfect way to entertain your pup. Start by having your pup sit and stay in a designated room while you hide in another part of the house. Call out, “Ready or not, here I come!” then encourage your dog to come find you. Most dogs quickly learn this game and absolutely love tracking you down.
Just be sure to reward them with treats and praise when they locate you. To keep it interesting, switch off who does the hiding.
You can fill these toys with your dog’s kibble or treats that will fall out as they roll the toy around with their paws and noses. Dispensing toys encourage natural foraging behaviours while making your dog work for their food, providing needed mental stimulation. Popular options are slow feeders, food puzzle toys, and snuffle mats.
You don’t need access to a big backyard to enjoy a fetch game with your dog. Clearing a hallway or large room will give you plenty of space to toss a ball or toy that your dog can run to retrieve. This is a great way to burn off energy on days when you can’t get outdoors.
A rousing game of tug-of-war taps into your dog’s natural instincts in a safe, fun way. Don’t be afraid to get competitive – dogs love a good battle of wills! Just be sure to use a designated tug toy rather than any household items or clothes. Tugging games provide great bonding time and exercise. The physical exertion and mental focus required help drain your dog’s energy. Chewing on a rope tug toy helps clean their teeth, too. Break out a sturdy tug toy on lazy winter days for an engaging activity you both will enjoy.
5. Try Agility Training
Set up an agility or obstacle course in your home using objects you already have around, like blankets, boxes, hula hoops, broomsticks balanced on chairs, etc. Lead your dog through the course, having them climb, weave, crawl, and leap over the various obstacles. Rotating the objects and layout will keep things new and challenging. This activity provides physical and mental exercise.
Use Stairs and Treadmills for Indoor Exercise
If you live in a multi-level home, take full advantage of the stairs for free exercise. As long as your dog is healthy, going up and down the stairs provides an excellent workout for both of you. Another option is to use a dog treadmill or human treadmill at low speeds to get your pup moving. Just be sure to take precautions – introduce your dog slowly and give them time to get used to walking on a moving surface. Treadmills and stair climbing are great ways to burn energy on cold or rainy days when you can’t get outside.
6. Visit a Doggie Daycare
For highly social pups used to lots of daily interaction, doggie daycare can provide a warm, engaging alternative when winter weather makes walks difficult. At a reputable facility, your dog will get to play with other dogs and people all day long. When you pick them up in the evening, they’ll be happily tired out and ready for quality cuddle time with you. Doggie daycare provides physical and mental exercise along with important socialization.
Just keep in mind that it’s not right for every dog – but for very social dogs, it can be the perfect way to burn off energy on cold winter days.
7. Visit Indoor Dog Parks
Who doesn’t love the genius idea of indoor dog parks? They give your pup all the fun of outdoor parks but without the freezing temperatures or slippery ice.
Indoor parks are the perfect place for your pup to get their necessary social fix during the winter when they’re stuck inside most days. They can romp and play with other dogs to their heart’s content in a warm, safe environment. If there are no indoor park facilities in your area, consider organizing small group play-dates with familiar dogs at your home for similar social benefits.
Although cold temperatures and icy weather can restrict your pup’s outdoor time, it doesn’t mean they have to stay cooped up indoors until spring. Many dogs enjoy playing in the snow, as long as it’s done safely and in moderation. Here are some popular winter outdoor activities:
8. Build an Igloo
If you get a big snowfall, coax your dog to explore it by building a fun snow fort or igloo in the yard. Let them inspect your handiwork, then get them to run, dig, and tunnel through the snow. This tires them out and keeps their mind engaged.
9. Go Sledding
Find a local hill designated for sledding and bring your dog along for the fun. Make sure to dress them in a cozy doggie winter coat and attach them to a child’s sled with a pet leash, allowing them to partake in the sledding adventure. This not only provides them with physical exercise but also grants them the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and breathe in the crisp, fresh air.
10. Hike New Trails
Break up your usual walking route by exploring different trails and parks in your area. Your dog will enjoy all the new sights and smells to check out along an unfamiliar path. And you’ll appreciate the change of scenery too! Even a short winter hike gets you both moving.
If you have an athletic pup who loves running and pulling, skijoring is the perfect winter activity for them.
This exercise entails your dog wearing a specially designed harness that connects to a belt worn around your waist. As you ski or snowboard, your four-legged friend assists in propelling you forward across the snowy terrain. It’s important to closely supervise your dog during skijoring, especially if you are new to the sport. Start off at a leisurely pace and gradually increase the intensity as both you and your furry companion become more comfortable and experienced.
1. How cold is too cold for a dog walk?
It’s hard to make blanket statements about cold tolerance since every dog is different. But generally, temperatures down to 45°F aren’t problematic for most pups. However, some small or cold-sensitive dogs may start feeling uncomfortable below this point.
Once the mercury dips under 32°F, smaller breeds, dogs with thin coats, puppies, seniors, or dogs with health issues are at higher risk if spending prolonged time outdoors, take extra precautions like coats, limit walks, and monitor them closely.
When temperatures plummet below 20°F, all dogs are susceptible to dangers like hypothermia or frostbite when outside too long. Take necessary precautions with all dogs in freezing weather – young, old, thick-coated or not. Know your dog’s limits and keep a close eye on signs of distress like shivering, whining, or lifting paws. If in doubt, opt for indoor playtime instead of a walk. Stay warm and healthy this winter!
2. How do I keep my dog safe during the winter?
To keep your dog safe during the winter, you should take a few important steps. First, make sure to dress them in a coat or sweater that covers them fully to shield them from the chilly wind, snow, and rain. It’s also a good idea to get them used to wearing dog booties indoors before taking them outside, as this will protect their paws from salt, snow, and ice.
Don’t forget to consult with your vet about potentially increasing their food intake. This is because the cold weather can cause them to burn more calories while staying warm. Another crucial tip is to limit their time outdoors in freezing temperatures and watch closely for any signs of discomfort or distress.
To enhance their visibility, consider using bright-coloured or reflective coats and bring a flashlight along during evening walks. Remember to be cautious on icy surfaces to prevent any slips or injuries for both you and your dog. Regularly check and clean their paws, making sure to remove any salt or ice buildup and check for any cuts.
Lastly, always ensure they can access fresh, unfrozen water even if they don’t seem thirsty. The cold air can still lead to dehydration, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! We hope you found some fun new ideas to keep your pup active and engaged all winter long. What works for one dog may not work for another, so feel free to pick and choose activities based on your doggo’s unique personality and needs. The most important thing is making the effort to exercise their body and mind during the colder months. A happy, healthy dog brightens up even the dreariest winter days. Wishing you and your furry friend a fun-filled winter!