How to Keep Your Dog Active in the Winter

golden retriever puppy playing in the snow

Winter can be a tough time to stay active and that’s no exception for dogs. While some dogs absolutely love the cold weather and thrive being outside, others do not care for it. No matter what, every dog needs some level of exercise and mental stimulation. So, whether you have a cold-loving dog or one that would rather stay inside, here’s how to keep your dog active in the winter:

1. Get Outside

There certainly are some dog breeds that hate winter. But even if your dog doesn’t love the cold weather, it’s still important to get outside a little bit if the weather allows. A little bit of exploration and exercise will be good for your pup, and good for you, too!

Take short walks or allow your dog to romp a little bit and sniff around. If you need to go outside after dark, make sure you have reflective clothing and a flashlight. Following some safety tips for walking your dog in the dark will ensure that you both stay safe.

If your dog is much more active, you can try going on a winter hike or letting them run around in the snow. There are a fair amount of dog breeds that love winter and absolutely love the snow and cold weather. In fact, you might have a hard time convincing these dogs to come inside!

If you do plan on going outside, be sure to follow some winter safety tips for dogs. Make sure your dog is prepared to be outside. If the ground is icy or snowy, it might be a good idea to try booties to protect their paws.

If your dog tends to struggle to stay warm, make sure you have a good dog coat or sweater for them to wear. Just make sure you measure your dog well and take their winter coat into account to buy the right dog coat for them. Keeping them warm will help them enjoy their outdoor time a lot more. If they seem unhappy or too cold, take them inside and help them warm up immediately.

2. Play Outdoor Games

For more active dog breeds, try playing some outdoor games with them. These types of games will help your dog get out some energy and are ways to keep your dog from getting bored.

Snowball Fetch

This might sound self-explanatory and it’s a very easy game to play with your dog. You’ll need some snow that you can pack into snowballs. Make sure there are no rocks or ice chunks to avoid injury.

After you have formed some snowballs, simply throw these snowballs for your dog. Dogs love the excitement of catching a ball that disintegrates into snow and they’ll keep trying to figure out what’s going on.

Finders Keepers

Dogs love to go on a hunt to find things. Start by burying some of their favorite toys in some snow but don’t make them too hard to find at first!

Dogs will need to use their nose to find their toy. Once they master finding their toys easily, make it a little harder. Make sure you reward your dog by playing with them, praising them, or with a treat.

3. Try Indoor Games

If your dog absolutely refuses to spend much time outside, there are some indoor games to try. These are also great options if the weather is nasty and it isn’t possible to be outside.

Scent Games

Indoor scent games are a great activity for any breed. every dog loves the chance to sniff and this type of game allows them to indulge their nose. Muffin tin puzzle games are easy to set up and don’t require a lot of effort.

Simply take a muffin tin, place a few treats in a few different cups, and cover up each muffin cup with a ball. Your dog will need to use their nose to find the treats and nudge the balls away to uncover their prize. This is a great game for mental stimulation and will help keep them occupied when it’s cold out.

Indoor Fetch

While many people don’t think of fetch as an indoor activity, you can modify the game to work indoors. This activity works best if you have a large area, like a hallway or a basement, for your dog to run in.

Simply throw your dog’s favorite toy so they can chase it. Choose something soft to avoid breaking anything. Repeat until your dog is well exercised. This is a great indoor activity that gets them moving if it’s not possible to go outside.

Does your dog not seem interested in playing fetch? If they haven’t learned the association of chasing something and bringing it back, you may have to teach them. This is a common reason why some dogs don’t play fetch.

Clean Up

Why clean up after your dog when you can train your pup to clean up after themselves? Get a basket or large crate for all your dog’s toys and a handful of kibble or some treats. Next, put the basket in front of you and ask your pup to bring you each toy and drop it in the basket.

For every toy your dog brings back successfully, give your pup a piece of kibble. Your pup will be thrilled about the treats and you will be happy to have a clean home. You may even be able to turn this into a nightly routine!

Obstacle Course

If you have a home with an open concept or a large home you can put a small obstacle course in your living room for your pet. This can help with their patience, agility, and problem-solving skills.

Use the furniture of your home or milk crates, bins, and other storage solutions to create different compartments and levels. Who knows? Maybe you’ll decide to make it a permanent fixture.

4. Exercise Indoors

Even if the weather is bad outside, you can still exercise your dog inside. You can try playing indoor fetch or making an obstacle course like mentioned earlier, or you can try simply moving with your dog inside.

Simply walk laps around your home with your dog. Encourage them to follow you by praising them or offering a treat every now and then. You can also encourage them to run up and down the stairs as long as they don’t have joint problems.

You can even try to train your dog to use a treadmill. If you have a larger dog, you may need to purchase a treadmill specifically designed for a dog.

5. Try Agility Training

Agility training is an excellent form of exercise for dogs to try. Many agility training courses are housed indoors making them a perfect wintertime activity.

You can also construct your own agility training course inside or outside. There are many resources available that teach you how to construct your own training course. This is a wonderful way for dogs to get exercise and to work on some obedience training as well!

6. Find a Dog Park

If your dog has been properly socialized, a dog park can be a wonderful outlet in the wintertime. Dog parks offer wonderful socialization for your dog and also offer fresh air. Your dog might even make a new friend!

Make sure to keep an eye on your dog, bring plenty of water, and leave if your dog is showing signs of fear. These are a few of the dog park etiquette tips that are important to follow.

7. Schedule a Playdate

If your dog has a fellow furry friend they feel comfortable around, it can be nice to plan a playdate during the winter time. A playdate is a great way for your dog to work on their manners in another space and socialize with another dog.

You can either host a playdate at your home or at a dog park. Make sure both owners are present and that you keep an eye on your dogs in case any unwanted behaviors arise. These are some tips for safe puppy play sessions you can continue to use for playdates between adult dogs too.

If you’ve been wondering how to keep your dog active in the winter, these are just a few ideas. Every dog needs some level of exercise, even in the winter. Implementing these ideas will your dog keep that blood pumping no matter if they love or dislike the cold. Remembering to update their contact information and maintain their winter coat are a few helpful tips to get your dog ready for winter.