*Important* – Before enjoying the winter conditions with your dog, be sure to keep these important safety tips in mind:
Some dogs tolerate colder weather better than others. Be sure to understand your dog’s individual risk factor
Be extra vigilant in protecting your dog’s feet, ears, and tail, as these are most susceptible to frostbite
Consider jackets and booties to provide extra protection from the elements
Be aware of the signs of hypothermia in dogs, such as shivering, lethargy, difficulty walking, and shallow breathing
Provide extra supervision around frozen bodies of water
Avoid toxic deicing chemicals that your dog can come into contact with.
Walk, Walk, Walk
One of the easiest activities your dogs will enjoy is going for a relaxing walk. Even as little as a 30-minute stroll can provide countless benefits for both you and your dog. Walking promotes physical as well as mental stimulation. Simple exercise combined with new smells, interesting wildlife, and unfamiliar places keeps our pup’s mind and body occupied. Walking will help keep that winter weight from packing on and improve their overall health.
Dogs use their noses to gather information about their environment. With over 100 million olfactory (smell) receptors (compared to 5 million in humans), our furry friends use their sense of smell to explore. Hiding treats and toys around your home or outside in the snow will give your dog a mental workout and help build their confidence.
Teach A New Trick
Mental stimulation can be just as important as physical exercise for dogs. If you or your pooch are hesitant to face the winter cold, use the bitter weather as an excuse to conquer that training you’ve been wanting to accomplish! Keeping our furry friends’ minds occupied also keeps them out of trouble. Training and learning new commands will help curb any destructive behavior during their winter hibernation. Also, training builds a dog’s confidence and strengthens the bond you have with each other.
Arrange A Playdate
Don’t let Old Man Winter keep your dog from seeing their best friends. Call up that pet parent and meet up for a hike or playtime at someone’s home. Not only will this give you a reason to get out of the house, but your dogs will keep themselves entertained with endless zoomies.
Play In The Snow
Sometimes the best winter activity is the most obvious one! Many dogs don’t get to interact with snow often, so this new material to interact with is fun and exciting for them. Catching snowballs, creating a racetrack for zoomies, and exploring this newfound winter wonderland will help burn off that pent-up energy.
If you really want to take winter by storm, consider Skijoring. This sport involves your dog pulling you with a harness while you ride on skis. This activity is perfect for high-energy dogs who are always on the go. While my 8-pound Chihuahua may not be up for the challenge, many winter-loving breeds such as the Husky or Alaskan Malamute will be first in line to try this out.
Buy A Challenging Toy
While many dogs love stuffed toys, most of them last merely seconds before they’re destroyed. Puzzle toys are great for occupying your dog, improving their cognitive skills, and providing mental stimulation. There are endless options of puzzle toys that range in difficulty. Many of these toys have hidden compartments to hide your dog’s favorite treats.
Treat Your Dog To A Spa Day
The harsh winter weather and dry air can take a toll on your dog’s skin, fur, and paws. Use the extra time inside to pamper your pup with a warm bath and your favorite pet shampoo. You can take it a step further and give them a nice nail trimming and brushing.
Have A Dog-Friendly Baking Day
On those really harsh winter days, consider finding some pet-safe recipes that your dog will be eager to be the official taste tester. Be sure to research ingredients that are safe for the whole family to enjoy, including our four-legged family members.
Let’s Be Honest…
There’s nothing quite like the bond between humans and dogs. Dogs let us experience the unconditional love and companionship that makes being a pet parent worth every second. It doesn’t matter what fun activities you plan for you and your dog this winter, as long as your dog gets to spend time with their favorite person in the world – you.
With a little creativity, there are countless ways to keep you and your dog active this winter season. While we all anxiously wait for spring, try out these activities with your dog and end your day snuggled up by the fire.