When cold weather hits and the snow starts to fall, it’s easy to stop bringing your dog for a brisk morning or afternoon stroll. You may blame road salt, or just the fact that it’s cold and wet outside, but unfortunately all dogs need to expend energy on a daily basis. When they don’t get to expend their energy, it can result in bad behaviors such as chewing or scratching. It’s important to work out all of the built up energy of your dog, so here are some great cold weather activities you can do instead.
Preparing for cold weather fun
Remember that cold weather is not optimal weather, so make sure you and your pup are prepared prior to having a little fun. If you’re heading out onto the road, make sure to avoid road salt when you can, but if you can’t, rinse off your dog’s paws when you get back. When heading outside, limit how long you stay out so no one freezes their paws off. Some dogs also accumulate ice and snow in the fur between their paw pads, so be aware of that as well — you may want to give it a trim to help them out! Don’t forget to bring some fresh water out as well so your dog doesn’t default to eating potentially hazardous snow, and remember that arthritic and older dogs may not tolerate the cold as well as their younger counterparts.
On to the activities!
#1: Build a snow maze
Winter fun can be easy if there’s snow to be had. If you have a shovel or a snowblower, you can pave a fun maze for your dog to run through, especially if the snow is particularly high! Dogs love running through the maze. You could even put treats somewhere at the end, or a new toy, if you want them to find something special.
Remember, in order to keep your dog safe, do this in a fenced area or keep them leashed while they sort out the maze.
If you’ve never heard of nosework before, it’s a great way of allowing your dog to utilize his or her natural instincts and their desire to hunt. Basically, it’s like a game of hide and seek — you hide a treat (or a toy!), and your dog sniffs it out. It’s not the same as professional scent detection, and isn’t quite the same as standard training either. You can seek out an instructor, or you can try starting some nosework yourself.
#3: Indoor training
During the cold weather months is a great way to brush up on, or even teach your dog new training things. The activities are both mentally stimulating and rewarding for your dog, so expending his or her energy is not a big to-do. BlueDog offers dog training courses that can help you get on the right track to performing some training activities right in the comfort of your own home!
#4 Fetch & Chase
There’s always fetch! Dogs love to play fetch, especially when they have their specific “racetrack route” in your home. Play fetch, hide & seek, or chase inside the home to give your dog a lot of fun exercise. If your play chase, don’t forget to call your dog to you and reward him or her for coming — chase can be a dangerous game if your dog gets loose outside and thinks you are playing the game outside too, so make sure to reward behaviors such as your dog coming to you when you call and reinforce those behaviors as best as you can.
#5 Puzzle time!
Grab a puzzle game off of your website of choice, and let your dog have at trying to solve it to get the reward at the end. You can also try Snuffle Mats, which reward your dog’s natural seeking behavior. There are a variety of puzzles out there made specifically for dogs — find one that your dog would like the most and use it a sparingly so he or she doesn’t catch on too fast!
Have some good activities you want to share? Let us know in the comments!