Winter Activities to do with A Dog
Indoor Dog Games and Outdoor Snow Activities with Dogs
Brrrr, it’s cold out there! Today in Ohio, it’s a balmy 8 degrees. The only good thing about that is there isn’t much snow on the ground. I thought, since Dexter and I are staying mostly inside today, it would be a nice time to offer some winter precautions and fun things you can do with your dog outside and inside.
Safety first. I am hoping that my readers do not keep their dogs outdoors. Dogs are companions, and offer us so much, we at the very least can offer them a warm home. However, they should go outside for potty breaks, physical and mental exercise. When it’s freezing outside, outside outings should be limited.
- Feet: Dog foot pads are not boots! A dog’s feet get cold just like ours do. For quick potty breaks, toddler socks work well. They are easy to put on, and no worries when they fall off. If you get dark colors, you can find them in the snow. Dog boots are perfect for longer outings and walks. Out of all the dog boots I’ve tried with Dexter, Satsox by far are our favorite. The runner up is Pawz, they keep out the snow and ice, but they don’t keep a paw very warm and grab his fur.
- If your dog goes outside without boots or socks, please make sure you clean the salt and ice from his foot pads. A warm washcloth or pet wipes work well.
- Scoop: Unlike us (I hope), your dog needs to do his business outside. Scoop a nice, large walking area for him, the bigger, the better. If your dog likes to walk around before doing his business, make sure you scoop walking trails. Keep his potty area clean, or he won’t want to eliminate there!
- Dog Coat: A must! Our dogs need to stay warm too. Look for a dog jacket that offers full-range of motion and covers their bottom.
- Sweaters: Yes. If you have a chilly dog, even indoors can be drafty. If you find your dog curling in a tight ball, or seeking the sun rays, a nice sweater will make all the difference in the world. Dexter is an odd-shaped dog, long and lean. We tend to have our sweaters custom made by MeekByDesign. She does amazing work! Don’t forget to tell her Dexter sent you. You can also check Amazon for off the rack dog sweaters.
- Dog Hats: Why not? Dexter doesn’t typically wear a dog hat, but he has on occasion. It most definitely helped with the snow build up on his ears. He has long, long, spaniel ears that are a magnet for snow, and anything thing else they touch.
- Dry and Cover: When your dog is ready to come inside from playing, don’t forget to dry him off. My favorite two towels are the Aquis microfiber towel and Mugzy’s Mutt towel. If your dog tolerates it, a dog hairdryer can feel oh, so good! While you are drying off your dog, toss your dog’s favorite dog blanket into the dryer. After drying off your dog, remove the dog blanket from the dryer and cover up your pooch, or allow him to lie on it. Toasty!
Outdoor fun with your dog
During winter, don’t miss those days that are actually sunny! Although the weather still may be cold, it feels great to get a little vitamin D from the sun. Keep safety in mind, but sunny days are a nice time to get outside with your dog. Below are a few games you might be able to play with your dog.
- Snow Maze: Depending on the depth of the snow, and the height of your dog, a snow maze can actually be a really fun game. While your dog is inside staying warm, scoop various paths, leading to scooped open areas and treat filled toys. In the beginning, place the filled treat toy at the end of an easy path. Let your dog outside, and encourage him to sniff around. In the beginning, you will likely need to “help him” find the prize at the end. But, after a few sessions, your dog will get the idea, and you can make the paths more difficult.
- Snowball Fight: OK, maybe not a snowball fight, but what about a game of catch? Pack a little clean snow and toss it up in the air to the side of your dog. Don’t toss it right at his face; he probably won’t appreciate that until he realizes he can catch it. If your dog isn’t much of a catcher, but more of a chaser, toss the snowball like you would a ball. Don’t worry if the snowball blends with the other snow, it’s about chasing. When he gets to where you tossed, repeat with a new snowball.
- Find It: If there is a nice amount of snow, tossing a ball into the snow so that it buries itself can be loads of fun for some dogs. If the ball is brightly colored, it will be easier to find. You can also toss treats into the snow, too.
- Skijoring and Sledding: For some people and their dogs, winter is their favorite time of the year. These are two dog sports for the active dog and owner. A quick Google search will teach you how to get started safely.
- Walking: It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you and your dog have to be hermits. Bundle both you and your dog up, and hit the park. A nice walk can be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t forget to bring something to dry your dog with.
Indoor games with your dog
When it’s too cold, too snowy, or just too dark to go outside, you can still have fun with your dog. It is important to keep your dog both mentally and physically fit. I love playing with Dexter, and the cold weather just bumps up our indoor game repertoire. Below are some of my favorite games to play with my dog indoors.
- Find The Treat/Mommy: It’s always a fun game to have your dog find a specific person, toy or even a treat. A great game for dogs of all ages and activity level. Read how to teach this trick in my other article-Find The Toy.
- Indoor Fetch: Who said you can’t play ball in the house? Sure you can. You just need to modify it a little by not going crazy. A few, light tosses down the hall or living room can do the trick. Do you need a little help with the drop? Read how to teach your dog to drop or give here.
- Playing Tug: Maybe your dog is more of a tugger. Tug can be a nice indoor game. Playing a good game of tug can help your dog learn how to control his arousal, have a good drop, and listen. Learn how to safely play tug with your dog by reading this article.
- Indoor Obstacle Course: Grab some sturdy books, broom, boxes, a tall kitchen chair and even some mixing bowls. Make a fun doggie obstacle course for your dog to navigate. Place two books across from each other and place your broomstick on top for a dog jump. Next, put your kitchen chair a few feet from the jump to make a tunnel. Line up your mixing bowls in a straight line about 2′ apart. Presto! Weave “poles.” Next, take your boxes and toss some treats inside for a jackpot as the grand finale! Now, grab some treats and guide your dog through the course. This is fun, so don’t worry about “doing it right.” Laugh, praise, treat, and laugh some more.
- Food Puzzles with a Twist: In my article, How To Stuff a Hollow Dog Chew, I taught you the foundations of a good filled dog toy. I like to bump it up a notch by hiding the dog food toy, or tossing the filled treat ball in a pillowcase, inside a box, or in a laundry hamper. This puts another layer onto the game. For dogs who lack confidence, this is a nice confidence-boosting activity.
- Dog Training and Tricks: Dogs are so smart, and when taught in a positive and fun manner, teaching your dog new tricks and behaviors can be a life saver in the winter. You can work on anything from obedience behaviors like stay, come when called, name game to fun tricks like hand target, spin, roll over or retrieving games.
Food For Thought. Energetically, all food will either warm or cool your body. In the winter, your dog may need to have more “warming foods” to combat all the coldness. This might be a time to add warming foods such as chicken, goat, lamb or venison to your dog’s meals. Not sure how to start? Check out my book, What’s For Dinner, Dexter? to learn more or read the energetics of food.
Dexter and I have learned how to continue to have fun and exercise in the winter months, but we would prefer to spend our winters on a warm, sandy beach. When that time comes, you can check out my post on outdoor activities with your dog. Until then, stay warm and safe.
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