Fun Things to Do With Your Dog in Winter
The time for warm blankets, puppy cuddles, and playing in the snow is right around the corner! But with the snow also comes the concern of playing outside with your dog in winter. Often times we become fearful that going outside will harm their paws so we stay indoors. So, what do you do when there is snow outside and your dog needs exercise? There are lots of fun things you can do with your dog in the snow (short bursts of play) that will tire them out without turning them into pupcicles! Here are some fun things to do with your dog in winter!
Hide and Seek with a Toy
With snow also comes great hiding spots – play hide and go seek with your dog in winter! It is fun to hide the ball, rope, or chew toy in the snow and then send him out to go find it. By hiding the toy under the snow, it will stimulate your dog’s mind through his olfactory senses (smelling). After doing this a few times, your dog will be ready to head indoors for some cuddling by the fireplace!
BONUS TIP: When playing outdoors with your dog in winter, keep in mind the temperature. If the temperature is below freezing, staying outdoors too long can be harmful for your dog’s paws. Instead, keep your activities outside short – long enough to get a play in, but not too long that your dog begins to suffer from the cold. It is also important to keep in mind the breed of your dog! If your dog has short fur, he will probably begin to shiver much quicker than breeds with long, thick coats. Watch for any signs of pain or discomfort in your dog (lifting paws, whimpering, or tail between the legs).
Most of the time your dog just wants to spend time with you. Let him participate in your own winter activities and bring him along when you go to the sledding hill! If you trust your dog to be off-leash, let him chase you down the hill, or carry him along for the ride! This can be a lot of fun for the whole family and is the perfect way to get outdoors and burn some energy!
There is nothing wrong with going to your local dog park or playing fetch in the backyard. Playing fetch is a great way to burn some energy and bond with your dog. Select a toy that will be easily located amongst the snow (bright colours or large enough). Keep your ball playing sessions shorter, as your dog will be working his muscles hard and they can become stiff from being in the cold too long. Bundle up, because there is nothing wrong with a good game of fetch!
Never heard of Skijoring? Well if you know what skiing is, and you have a dog, you are all set! Skijoring is when you attach yourself to your dog (who loves to run) and go cross-country skiing! This is especially fun for dogs who are strong (larger breeds) and are trained well enough to obey commands like stop and turn. It is crucial, however, that you have the correct harnesses for your dog, as you do not want to put pressure on to his back or joints. You also want to ensure that your dog is strong enough to pull you from a dead stop – you can assist them by moving yourself at the beginning until you get going fast enough. Purchase your dog a pair of boots (with traction, so they do not slip on the snow), so that your dog’s feet are protected when in contact with ice and snow.
BONUS TIP: The cold can be hard on your dog’s joints as his paws and legs are in direct contact with the snow. Once you are finished your activity outside, give your dog’s legs and paws a massage. Gently squeezing and making circular motions on his legs will help to bring the blood back into his joints. This is especially important if your dog struggles with joint pain (in which case do not attempt Skijoring), as cold air can cause more pain. Give your dog a comfortable place to lie down when back inside and do what you can to get him warm once again. For prevention, Canine 15 natural supplements will help with joint pain that is chronic.
Walking or Hiking/Snow-Shoeing
Are you the outdoorsy type who likes to trek to the mountains during the cold months? One fun thing you can do with your dog in the winter is bring him along! Your dog will love to run around smelling things and just being out of the house. As always, keep an eye on the temperature – if it is extremely cold and below freezing, it might be better to do some indoor activities. Otherwise, purchase boots for your dog and a sweater to keep him extra warm on your adventures.
BONUS TIP: If you are walking with your dog within your city or town, once you are home, wipe off your dog’s paws. The salts and gravel used on roads and sidewalks to reduce ice can get stuck on the bottom of your dog’s feet. You want to make sure that they do not lick these chemicals, so wiping of your dog’s paws after a walk is best!
Enjoy spending time with your dog in winter and don’t let the snow get you down! Try these fun activities and you will be sure to have a ton of fun with your furry friend!