Stay active and have a blast this winter with these outdoor activities for you & your furry companion
While it’s nice to cuddle up indoors with a warm blanket and a snuggly dog, it’s also refreshing and energizing to get out of the house, breathe in the crisp air and get the blood pumping. So put on a thermal under layer, grab your winter boots, pack up the pup and head out to try some of these winter activities!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SNOW
Moldable snow is perfect for a DIY playground. You can stomp out a running path or maze, build walls, dig tunnels, and more to create an exciting new area to run and play in. Build your space, toss a favorite toy and race your dog to see who can get to it first!
Nosework is a mental and physical challenge for your dog and a great activity for satisfying their need for stimulation. Winter conditions add new dimensions to scent work. Scent is harder to detect in cold, dry air and air flow changes over the snow and wind. Create a trail of treats for your dog to follow, or simply hide treats or toys for them to track and find. Lightly cover some treats with snow for an extra bit of problem solving and digging. If your pup loves scent games, they’ll enjoy the extra challenge of the special conditions that are naturally available this time of year.
GO SLEDDING OR KICKSLEDDING
Some dogs just LOVE to sled. Take them out on the hills with you when you go! (Don’t forget the camera - you’ll get some amazing pics and video).
But be sure to give your dog a trial run first to see if they’re willing to sled with you; never force a dog on a sled if they appear fearful.
If your dog is over 35 lbs. and loves to run, they may enjoy pulling. A kicksled is a cross between skis and a traditional dog sled, and is a great option if your dog enjoys pulling. It’s a great bonding activity since it requires training of a few vocal command cues and working together on the route. Kicksleds work best on flat, packed snowy surfaces rather than deep drifts. Your dog will need a harness made specifically for pulling - these harnesses have extra padding around the neck and chest. You’ll also need a towline. While competitive/professional sled pulling is controversial, recreational/hobby pulling is a healthy sporting activity and is as safe as any other dog sport activity. Let your dog take the lead and make it a playful and positive activity for both of you. Never force them or push them to work too hard - keep it fun!
VISIT YOUR REGULAR SITES
Your favorite trails are a completely different experience in winter. Creeks are frozen, frost forms sparkling crystals on the dry foliage, squirrel nests are visible in the trees, and the bare trees have a unique kind of beauty. Take your time and enjoy the contrast of a landscape all tucked in for winter. Be cautious on wooden bridges and watch for icy patches!
Fetch is another favorite activity that gets an extra boost from winter conditions. Snow is a different surface for running and can add extra challenge to finding the ball/disc/etc. It takes extra energy to stay warm and run over snow-covered ground, so your pup may wear out a little sooner than usual. Be sure to use a brightly colored fetch toy!
Try one of our brightly-colored throwing toys:
BE SAFE OUT THERE
- Like you, your dog needs to be in good physical health before embarking on a new physically challenging activity. Be sure to check with your vet on what activities are safe for your dog.
- Water, snacks, first aid supplies. No matter the conditions - heat or cold - hydration and fuel are essential for physical activity. Bring fresh, drinkable water and some snacks for you & your dog to refuel along the way. It’s also best to be prepared with a well-stocked first aid kit.
- Use a paw wax before heading out to prevent snowballs and to protect paw pads, nose, ears, etc. Try our Musher's Secret for excellent protection.
- Dress for the weather. Like you, your dog may need an extra layer or two between their skin and the elements, particularly if they’re a short haired breed. Grab a weather-resistant dog coat and some booties to protect their paws from damage from ice, snow, or ice melt chemicals. A snood or cover for their ears is helpful in bitter winds, and eye protection may be beneficial for long outings.