As cold weather swoops in, many pet parents and their dogs retreat to the comfort of couches and cozy blankets. However, being cooped up inside can be frustrating for active pups who love being outside and need outlets for their energy. Dogs also tend to put on weight over the winter months, so getting them out and about even when temperatures drop is essential. There are plenty of ways to have some cold-weather fun with your dog as long as you take proper precautions for their comfort and safety.
Hide and Seek in the Snow
Freshly fallen snow is perfect for a game of hide and seek. If your dog is already familiar with looking for and finding things on demand, you can leave your dog in the house, hide a toy or treat under the snow, then send them out with whatever command you use. It may be “find the toy” or “where’s your ball?”
If your pet is new to the game, you may want another person to help out. While one of you holds your dog or enforces the “sit” or “stay” command, the other can hide the toy or treat while your dog is watching so they understand what is expected of them. As they get the hang of it, you can hide things when they aren’t watching. Since your dog will be rooting through the snow, be sure they’re wearing a waterproof collar that can be easily cleaned and won’t get waterlogged.
This requires some work on your part, but it’s totally worth it. If you have a large yard, shovel out a zig-zigging path through the snow, creating a maze for your dog to run through. To up the fun quotient, hide dog treats at various points along the route, then watch your best friend power through the path from treat to treat. They’ll be working off the calories while enjoying their snacks (something we all wish we could do!).
You can up your outside snow maze game by creating an obstacle course for your dog. Use the snow shoveled away from the maze’s path to create snow barricades, tunnels, and hills for your pet to navigate. Make sure you keep these relatively small in size and monitor your bestie as they figure out how to go over, under, around, or through the obstacles. A nice reward at the end of their run will be appreciated!
Snow Catch or Snow Fetch
Gauge whether your dog enjoys crunching on snow before trying this game. If they’re enthusiastic about eating snow, you can toss lightly packed snowballs in the air for them to catch. Another option is purchasing a glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent ball for them to catch. If they miss and it lands in the snow, it’s easy to find and retrieve.
Yes, you can hike all year round with your dog, but there’s something magical about traipsing through the woods or a local park when the world has become a winter wonderland. It changes the appearance and smell of everything, turning a familiar path into a new area to explore for your pet. Be sure to use a waterproof leash that won’t get weighed down by moisture and drag against them. Let your dog root around in the snow along the path to find hidden treasures to sniff.
Snow Safety for Your Dog
Playing outside in the snow is great fun for dogs, but you do want to make sure your pet is safe from harm. A waterproof collar and leash set is essential. A waterproof collar and leash won’t chafe or chill your dog, and they can be quickly dried with a simple wipe when you come inside. Waterproof leashes also retain their strength and won’t stretch out of shape like other leashes.
If your dog is small or is a breed that is easily chilled (Greyhounds, we’re talking about you!), be sure to bundle them up in a sweater or coat to prevent heat loss. Footwear is also important for dogs, protecting sensitive pads from ice, rock salt, and debris.
Keep a careful eye on your dog while in the snow. If they start trembling or shaking, they’ve gotten too chilled and need to go inside immediately. When you come inside, be sure to wipe their paws and rub them down with a towel to warm them up and get any excess moisture off their fur. Next up? A tasty treat and a nice snooze on the couch!