Winter weather shouldn't be an excuse to hibernate. There are tons of fun winter activities you can do with your dog - inside and out. If you want a happy dog, give him regular exercise, after all it will be good for both of you! Here are some fun Winter Dog Activities that you can get excited about, even if the weather is chilly:
- Skijoring - It's cross country skiing combined with dog mushing/racing. Add a special dog harness and belt (for you) to your cross country equipment and you have Skijoring. Your dog pulls you through the snow. Fun for humans and any dog over 30 lbs.
- Fetch - Turns out that playing fetch works the same in cold weather as it does in warm! Throw ball, wait for dog to return with ball, repeat. Just get a brightly colored ball or Frisbee so you can find it in case it gets lost in some snow.
- Tracking - Sniff in all that cold winter air and train your dog to track scents. Tracking is like a game for dogs...hide-and-seek. Tracking challenges a dog's problem solving skills and keeps their keen sense of smell active. It also rewarding when they successfully track a scent. Call a local trainer or find a good tracking training book to get started.
- Walk or Run - Same as in warm weather just with more clothes on, walking or running is a great way to exercise yourself and your dog. Dogs make great walking buddies!
- Snowshoe Trek - If you can walk, you can snowshoe! You should consider trying out snowshoeing if you live where it snows...and take your pup along. The equipment is inexpensive to rent and you and your dog will enjoy the exercise and time outside in the snow. If your dog isn't an off leash dog (or if that isn't permitted where you go), make sure you have a long dog leash.
- Agility - If your dog is active and likes a challenge, consider taking dog agility classes. Dog agility training is fun for you and your dog; you get to work as a team to get around different obstacles along a timed course. It's a good way to challenge your dog and channel his energy. In the cold parts of the year, agility is taught inside. Contact a local agility club or trainer for more information.
- Brain-Teaser - Dogs like to work hard and then get rewarded for their behavior. A great indoor brain-teaser toy, like the Tug-A-Jug and Twist 'N Treat, can be a great way to keep your dog entertained and challenged for hours...and he will be rewarded along the way.
- Hide & Seek - If your dog has a strong sniffer and likes to play with toys, try out a little game of hide and seek in the house. "Hide" your dog's favorite toy in a room or on a piece of furniture (don't hide it too hard) and tell your dog to "find it". If he isn't really into it, help and encourage him and after a few tries, he will get better at it. It's an opportunity to train him to understand a "go find" command.
- Stairs - If you are stuck in the house due to extreme cold or snowstorms during the winter, running up and down the stairs (assuming you have some) can be great exercise for both you and your dog. If your dog is older and has some joint problems, this may not be the ideal activity.
- Cuddle - If you are spending the day inside because of the weather, don't forget to get a good cuddling in with your dog! Dogs are all warm and cuddly and they make great napping buddies!
If you are trying out a new activity, make sure you do your research and prepare with the proper equipment and gear for both you and your dog. Now get going and enjoy the winter with your dog!