Top 6 Winter Dog Activities
When the colder winter months roll in, you may be tempted to just hunker down indoors and do as little as possible. But your dog still wants to have fun and go on adventures. Just because it's cold, the fun times don't need to slow down for you and your pup. There are many fun activities for dogs to do both at home and outside during these colder winter months. Winter dog activities can include urban mushing, agility courses, outdoor and indoor camping, hiking, restaurant visits, and even just snuggling up by the fireplace. Winter is a great time to make special memories with your furry best friend.
1. Agility Courses & Scavenger Hunts
An agility course is great for any climate because it can be set up both indoors and outdoors.1 Your pup will love romping around in the snow outside in your backyard, jumping through hoops and running around trees. If it's too cold, you can set up an agility course indoors using chairs, hula hoops, tunnels, and the stairs. Just use a treat or hand-targeting to lead your dog around the obstacles.
You can also switch this out with a scavenger hunt when you need some variety, hiding your dog's favorite toys or smelly treats in surprise locations. Start out by just hiding them in cardboard boxes and then move on to more challenging locations. If your dog's really good at this, you might consider nose work competitions.2 K9 Nose Work competitions are sports where dogs compete to see who's the best at following scents. They're hosted by the National Association of Canine Scent Work.3 To compete, you'll want to attend officials classes and your dog will need to pass an Odor Recognition test.
2. Urban Mushing
Whether you live in a climate with lots of snow or in a place that's too warm for snow, you and your dog can take part in urban mushing. Urban mushing is basically any type of dog-powered transportation. If it's snowy, your dog might be harnessed to a small sled and you'll go out to a park for some exercise. Many people choose to use a kicksled, where the dog pulls the sled and the person riding the sled also kicks from time to time to help propel it forward, splitting the work.4 If it's warmer, you can use scooters, mountain bikes, or carts instead of sleds.5 You can often look online and find a local meetup group or club that helps train new participants in urban mushing that is right for their climate. These activities are best for medium-sized and larger dogs.
3. Indoor and Outdoor Camping
Why not try camping this winter? If you live somewhere that gets really hot in the summer, then the winter might be the perfect time to go camping with your dog. Be sure and bring along a collapsible travel water bowl and some blankets or a little bed for your pup to cuddle up in.
If it's too cold, you can have a staycation camp-at-home event. If you have children, they will love this too. Roll out some sleeping bags in the living room, set up a heated bed for your dog in the middle, and open the windows a bit to let the cold breeze inside.
Hiking is a fun and healthy activity to do with your dog in the winter. You can go hiking at the beach if the weather is warm enough, or you can go hiking in a park or dog-friendly part of town if it's a little colder. Consider inviting some friends and their dogs along and take a stroll outside to look at the Christmas lights. Remember, even when it's extra cold and snowing, your dog still needs exercise. A dog needs more protection in the cold, so consider putting some dog booties and a doggie sweater on your dog before you head outside.
5. Dog-Friendly Restaurants
Many cities have cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating that's dog-friendly. During the winter, they may have fireplaces and other heaters set up to keep the outdoor space warmer. This can be a great way to have a change of scenery, enjoying the outdoors with your dog in a calm, cozy environment.
6. Fireplace Snuggles
Your winter activities don't have to all involve exercise. Why not just start a fire in the fireplace and snuggle up with your pup? Get some hot cocoa for you and gather some yummy dog treats for your pup. Then put out a blanket next to an indoor dog bed, and snuggle up together, enjoying some quality time after a long day.
From fireplace snuggles to urban mushing, there are numerous winter dog activities for pups of all energy levels. If you and your pet choose an outdoor activity, it's a great idea to conclude your adventure by having a heated bed ready for your furry friend when you return home. A nice, heated bed can help your pup relax his muscles and warm him up after an exhausting day of fun.
- Olilla, Erin. "How to Make Your Own Dog Obstacle Course." Hills Pet, October 2019, https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/training/diy-dog-obstacle-course
- Thornton, Kim Campbell. "Canine Nose Work: A Sport for Dogs Who Love to Sniff." Vet Street, November 2013, http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/canine-nose-work-a-sport-for-dogs-who-love-to-sniff
- National Association of Canine Scent Work. "Getting Started." NACSW.net, http://www.nacsw.net/trial-calendar-information/intro-first-trial-getting-started
- CBC News. 'They Find Their Inner Wolf: Kicksledding is the New Urban Mushing." CBC, 12 March 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/kicksled-dogs-calgary-1.5054065
- Peralta, Jessica. "No Snow? No Problem." Daily Pilot, 28 December 2017, https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-wknd-et-urban-mushing-20171228-story.html