Tired from the weather? Check these fun winter dog activities

Dogs’ attitudes toward the weather vary just as ours do. However cold or wet it is, some people love to be outdoors while others prefer to curl up indoors and will only go out to the toilet with persuasion. So, depending on your own – and your dog’s – preferences, here are some fun activities to do with your dog during the winter months.

But first, do you remember the old maxim, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”? Well, this can apply to dogs as well. In spite of their fur coats, some breeds will feel the cold more than others. If your dog has only one coat of fine hair, is very young, very old, or not very well, you may need to invest in a winter dog coat when it’s cold. If it’s snowy, boots may be a good idea too. They prevent clumps of snow turning to ice on the fur around your dog’s paws and protect against grit, salt, or other products used on road surfaces.

Getting Out and About

If your walks are shorter than usual, get in touch with your inner child (or take a child with you) so you don’t miss out on seasonal opportunities for fun and games to help tire your dog out. 

Canine parkour

Some dogs will love racing up and down a hill of leaves. Or take this further and try canine parkour – a fairly new sport that’s accessible to all. Just like human parkour, you’re making use of whatever the environment offers to give your dog the opportunity to jump, climb, balance, or crawl under things. For example, in a park or woods, use fallen trees or rocks; on city walks, try weaving in and out of street furniture; or practice in your own garden, where pots might become part of the game to sit on, climb, or weave around.

You’ll soon find yourself eyeing up every object you pass with a view to incorporating it into a game with your dog. With treats and encouragement, some form of parkour can be played with any dog. But be sure to take your dog’s age, shape, and abilities into account before you try any exercise.

Fun with snow

When there’s snow on the ground, there’s always space for a dog-friendly activity to appear. Many dogs will love simply racing around in it or chasing a snowball. (When introducing a puppy to snow for the first time, do have your phone handy so you can film that moment when they discover this strange white stuff is really rather cool.)

If you’re not fully occupied building a snowman (snow dog? ), try instead creating an obstacle course or maze for your dog to explore.

For the avid skiers amongst you, have you tried skijoring? (Yes, it’s a thing.) Think cross-country skiing crossed with dog sledding or, in this case, a dog in a harness with a rope attached towing you along on your skis. Not for everyone or every dog!

And, of course, both snow and leaves on the ground are ideal for ‘sniffing” games, where you hide a treat or toy and let your dog enjoy using their incredible sense of smell to search for it.

No, thank you, I’d rather stay in the warm

But what to do on days when it’s cold, the rain is very wet and you’re just not

going to venture out? Lucky for you, there are plenty of indoor dog activities you can try with your furry friend. 

Training games

Now may be an excellent time to do some training with your dog. You don’t need a large space to practise walking on heels. Try practising around tables and chairs or up and down a corridor. Coming when you call can be a great game to play with a few members of the family on different sides of a room, or calling your dog from room to room to receive a great treat and plenty of praise. And you need no extra space at all to practise “stay”! Or maybe learn how to teach your dog some new tricks.

A small dog can be exercised indoors with a game of fetch. Alternatively, a game of tug will keep your dog close to you – just make sure that a wagging tail isn’t going to send anything flying as their enthusiasm for the game grows. Or maybe research doggie dancing or real dog yoga.

Indoor agility

Indoor agility is another fun thing to do with your dog in the winter. Again, it will slightly depend on the size of your dog but, as with parkour outside, there’s a lot you can do with items you have lying around. Cardboard boxes make great tunnels or jumps. With the inner tubes from loo rolls or paper towels you can create a course to weave through. You’ll need to guide and encourage your dog with treats to begin with to show them what’s wanted.

Scent work

Any type of scent work is ideal for keeping your dog occupied, breaking the boredom and tiring them out – sniffing can be more tiring for a dog than the equivalent time spent on a walk. At its simplest, hide a treat in a box filled with old newspapers or hidden in a paper parcel. Teaching your dog to ‘find’ toys or treats opens up the possibility of games to keep your dog occupied for much longer. To start, let your dog watch you ‘hide’ a treat in the room for them to find. When they get the idea, put them in another room while you hide treats or toys for them to sniff out.Whatever you decide to do, make sure your dog is enjoying the game, and you’re having fun too!