Winter activities for dogs

When the cold season approaches many dog owners dread thinking of how they will exercise their pets. Colder days and snow should not stop a dog’s daily walking and exercising schedule and there are still plenty of fun bonding activities that can be done during the winter.


Outdoor winter activities


  • Exploring new routes

Dogs need to walk daily at least 30 minutes. During the winter the cold might make you both a bit uncomfortable and this means that there is a tendency to walk around a known area for a few minutes before returning indoors.

Take a warm coat, a hat, gloves and a good pair of boots. If your dog has short hair or is part of a more fragile breed, give your dog a doggie coat and a good pair of dog snow boots. Both of you are now ready for a winter wonderland adventure.

Start by walking your pet around your known area for a few minutes, to get accustomed to the temperature and the snow, then choose to explore another part of the village, city or park that you don’t usually go to when walking your dog. If necessary take short breaks in a coffee shop that allows pets.

You could also choose to drive to a different location for a change of scenery.

  • Playing

Exercising outdoors by playing with your dog is an exceptional way to strengthen the bond between the two of you. It is also beneficial for both the physical and mental wellbeing of your dog.

During the winter, you can play snowballing with your dog, paying attention to any signals of distress.

Try to exercise its nose by hiding some toys or other familiar objects under a thin layer of snow.

You could also choose to drive to a different location for a change of scenery.

Use balls carefully to avoid any slips and injuries.


  • Trick training

Try to teach your dog small tricks outdoors : roll over, ball rolling with the nose or staying pretty.


  • Garden snow course

If you’re creative you can have fun in your garden, by creating a dog training course or a maze with obstacles for your dog. This is a great activity for the entire family. Don't forget to build a snowman too.

  • Hiking

If you both take pleasure into spending time outdoors and exploring new trails, winter should not stop you from enjoying a good hiking day. Make sure you have with you all the usual equipment needed when going hiking with a dog such as:

  • Backpack
  • First aid kit
  • Plenty of water
  • Food and dog treats
  • A leash or a harness
  • Flashlight
  • A map
  • A good pair of boots for you
  • Dog hiking boots or snow boot
  • Warm clothing

Remember to check the weather before going hiking to avoid being caught in snowstorms.

  • Skijoring

This winter sport is a combination of skiing and sledging. It can be taken by owners with dogs belonging to large powerful breeds and with a thick coat of fur.

Skijoring is done by using a skijoring dog harness. This is a special harness that is especially designed for pulling. It needs to be attached to you to a hip belt by a tow line.

These items can be bought from specialized shops and online.

The skijoring dog harness can also be used for snowboarding, skating, biking and canicross where the dog is pulling you whilst taking these activities.

  • Camping

Whilst winter camping is not for the faint hearted, this could be a fantastic activity for both of you. Take into consideration your dog’s health and breed before going on such an adventure.

Be prepared with all the necessary items for camping ensuring you are safe and warm at all times.


Indoor winter activities


  • Exercising

When the weather outside doesn’t allow you to spend too much time outdoors, you can exercise your dog around your home. This can be done by creating a pretend agility dog course with all kinds of obstacles or by going up and down the stairs.

By doing this, you can keep away the boredom and keep your dog in a fit form.

  • Dancing

Play your favourite songs and practice dancing with your dog. Dancing exercises a lot of muscles and is beneficial both for body and mind.

To make this even more fun you could try to teach your dog to play musical statues: when the music stops both of you should freeze and only move when the music starts again.

  • Getting the paintbrushes out

A fun and messy indoor activity for you and your dog could be painting. For this you need a plastic sheet to cover the floor, a roll of drawing paper and child friendly paint (allergen free and easy to wash). Let your dog have fun with its paws whilst you use a painting brush and create your winter masterpiece.

  • Playing

Give your dog new toys (hide the old ones until the spring comes), play hide and seek, tug of war or the which hand game and give your dog lots of cuddles.

Try feeding the dog with puzzle toys to develop its mental agility.

  • Training

Continue training your dog whilst in the house. Now it’s a great opportunity to practice obedience and catch up with anything that needs to push your dog mentally.

Teach your pet new fun tricks and put a performance in front of the whole family.

  • Teaching

Dogs can learn around 200 words. With this in mind, you could certainly use the time spent indoors by teaching your dog the names of its toys, household objects or anything you have in mind (it needs to have a physical presence in order for the dog to make the connection between the word and the object).

  • Dog classes

Take your dog to indoor dog training classes to continue learning and socialize with other dogs.

If there is an indoor doggy play area, going there together will help against boredom and apathy and will change the scenery for a while.

You might have other fantastic ideas of how to spend your winter days with your dog, the most important aspect is to remember that dogs do get bored and need to be exercised daily. They need your attention and affection as much as caring for their basic needs.

Dogs don’t hibernate during the winter so if your dog seems to sleep too much, try cajoling him into an activity. If you are worried, don’t hesitate to check with a vet about your dog’s health.

Have fun, stay safe and warm and don’t forget to cuddle your dog everyday!

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