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8 Fun Winter Activities for Dogs
By: Brianna Gunter
It’s easy to let your dog’s exercise and enrichment needs slide in the wintertime. Fortunately, there are a lot of fun things you can do in winter (both inside and outdoors) that’ll help ward off boredom and keep your pal in shape.
Is the ground covered in snow? No problem! Take a look at these fun winter activities for dogs that you’ll both enjoy.
1. Snow fetch
Snow fetch is a game that dogs of many breeds tend to pick up quickly. The premise is simple—just make a snowball that’s appropriate for your dog’s size, and throw it for them to chase. Maybe they’ll catch it or maybe it’ll disappear back into the snow from whence it came, but you’ll both have fun finding out.
2. Learning a new trick
While you’re spending more time indoors with your pet, why not use the time to teach them a new trick? Training can help strengthen your bond, build trust, and exercise your dog’s mind while rewarding them for good behavior.
Worried that you can teach your canine tricks if they’re above a certain age? Contrary to popular belief, older pets are capable of learning new things. According to Psychology Today, dogs face many of the same cognitive challenges as humans as they age, but with time and patience, it is possible for them to retain new skills and information.
3. Completing a class for dogs
If you have a young pup, winter is a great time to enroll your pal in a dog training class or even an agility course. Consider group classes if your dog has no history of issues with other canines—especially for young pets, these can be great for learning important socialization skills. In addition to learning good behavior, your dog will get in some exercise and may even pick up some impressive new tricks.
4. Doggy maze
You can create a maze for your dog both indoors and outdoors in winter! If you get significant snowfall in your area, simply take a shovel and carve out a path for your pup to explore. To make a dog maze inside, grab some blankets, pillows, chairs, and other things you can make easy barriers out of.
You may want to hide some treats while you’re at it, which brings us to the next fun winter activity for dogs…
5. Snow scavenger hunt
What’s better than frolicking through the snow? A scavenger hunt for treats or toys in the snow! Hide things in places where you pal can easily find them but will still have to use their nose or do some light digging. Then it’s go time!
Consider starting the hunt off slow, with a couple close-by discoveries that will get your dog excited for more. Go around the yard with them to offer some help if they get stumped (and just get in some extra bonding time working as a team). This will help your pup get accustomed to the game and be more ready for future scavenger hunts, whether they’re indoor or outdoor.
Unless they were specifically trained to do so at an early age, your dog probably isn’t going to be part of a sled team anytime soon. That said, some pups may still enjoy running on snowy turf with you in tow. Skijoring is a centuries-old winter sport that involves skiing (usually on flat terrain) with your dog tethered to the front of you. Long popular in Europe, skijoring with dogs has become prevalent in recent years in Canada and snow-heavy states in the U.S.
Always talk to your pal’s veterinarian before attempting skijoring. This winter activity is not advised for dogs with back issues or those who do not do well on public trails. Likewise, you should be able to stand and move comfortable on skis by yourself before bringing your dog into the mix—you’re meant to move with your dog rather than having them pull you along. If you’re not, then take a look at the next activity!
Canicross is essentially skijoring without skis—you walk or run with your dog tethered in front of you. One of the great things about this outdoor activity is that it can be done any time of the year as long as you have weather-appropriate gear. Stroll or sprint, you and your dog can go at your own pace and enjoy the smells, sights, and team-building experience.
8. Paw painting
Just want to spend some quality time indoors with your dog? No problem! With pet-safe paints (and if your dog doesn’t mind having their feet touched), paw painting on a canvas or piece of sturdy paper can be a fun activity for all. Always clean your pup’s paws thoroughly afterward, and set your awesome new painting somewhere safe to dry.
Make dog safety a priority this winter
No matter what winter activities you engage in with your pal, safety should always come first. Consult with your pet’s veterinarian before starting any new exercise or snowy adventure outside, and be prepared to take things slowly. Always dry your dog off thoroughly when they come in from snow, rain, or mud, and use protective gear (like dog booties or paw balm) in frigid weather and wet conditions.
Last but not least, be ready to come back inside if your pal is too cold or just isn’t feeling the activity. After all, there’s nothing wrong with quality cuddle time indoors.
Check out more tips on how to keep dogs safe and warm in the winter cold!
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