Some dog owners feel trapped in the house with their pets during colder winter months, but you don't have to be. Spice up your winter routine with some of these fun dog-friendly, but remember that cold weather, snow and ice bring with them a list of outdoor hazards, too.
Be Prepared, and Stay Safe
Remember to practice safety first. Make sure that you and your pet are wrapped up warm (get some of this stuff), that someone always knows where you are heading, and – if going further away or for longer – that you have extra food, water and a first aid kit or other emergency supplies on hand.
If necessary, call ahead to see if the place allows dogs (e.g. a drive-in movie). Ask about their rules, if there are any. Be aware of your dog's comfort: how long can they stay in the cold? Small breeds, senior dogs, puppies and breeds with little to no fur will get cold quicker if they're not dressed.
1. Take a Dog Massage Class
Dogs love massages, and it also provides many benefits to their health. You can take a dog massage class online, recruit a local dog masseuse to teach you, or go to a class locally. This will give you an opportunity to bond with your dog but you will also be able to soothe their aches and pains once you finish. Finally, you can simply stay at home and give your dog a massage by yourself – there are three ways to do it.
2. Go to a Drive-In Restaurant
Drive-in restaurants like Sonic are in just about every city in the U.S.A. So, hop in the car, buckle up you and your pup and head out for something to eat. Just be sure to pick something dog-friendly for your pet, perhaps a small vanilla ice cream cone or some fresh veggies if they have any.
3. Try Dog Yoga
Dog yoga (Doga) has been trending lately and many towns are holding classes for dogs and their owners. It’s an opportunity for you and your dog to get out and get a little exercise and relaxation in. Of course, if your dog is a little energetic or overly social or if you just aren’t as flexible as you think you should be, doing yoga with your dog might not be the best choice for you!
4. Go Geocaching
If it’s not icy or snowing and you want to get a little outdoor time in, why not try your hand at geocaching? Geocaching is a great opportunity to get out, get fresh air and exercise and do something fun with a dog. You might even make a few new dog-loving friends in the process.
For more information and to find local geocaches in your area, check out geocaching.com.
5. Hold a Puppy Party
If it’s snowy out or just too cold to play outdoors, why not hold your very own puppy party? Even if it’s no one’s birthday, you can always find a reason for a party. Bake pupcakes or even a dog-friendly cake, make some doggy bags, clear out the backyard or the living room and invite some four-legged friends over (with their owners). It’s a great chance to get together with friends and for your pup to socialize with other dogs.
6. Have a Winter Doggy Photoshoot
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at photography or if you’re a professional photographer, why not set up a winter photoshoot? Grab a few props, a lot of treats, find a safe and beautiful location and get shooting. Maybe build a snowman in your backyard with your pooch, or go on a quick hike in the hills or forest to get that “cinematic” look.
3. Go to a Drive-In Movie
Not interested in a food-oriented drive-in adventures? Check and see if your town has a drive-in movie theater. They’re getting harder to find, but if you have one locally, it’s a great way to have an all-out date with your pooch. You can even share a little bit of your popcorn with the dog.
8. Try an Indoor Spa Day
Do you have a laid back or senior pup who just enjoys being pampered? Then arrange a spa day adventure, right in your home. Hop on Amazon and order dog-friendly nail polish, some dog shampoo (for later), and make a day out of pampering your pooch.
Feeling brave? Why not take a bath with your pup and lots of bubbles? It’s a great opportunity to scrub that pup clean while giving them plenty of cuddles to make them feel more secure in the tub.
If the roads are clear and safe and it’s not too cold, hop in the car and head out for a road trip. Just you and your dog, you can stop at roadside attractions, keep driving until you want to stop, or simply find a scenic place to watch the sunset. Taking a car ride with your pooch a great opportunity to make memories with your pup.
Whenever traveling in the car with your dog, make sure to keep them crated or invest in a crash-tested seat belt harness to keep them safe. And be sure to always carry a stocked first aid kit in your car as well as your fully charged cell phone just in case.
10. Visit Dog-Friendly Stores
If it’s bitterly cold outside but you really need to get out of the house, try hitting up a dog-friendly store with your pup in tow. Check out this list of dog-friendly stores to get you started. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even plan your shopping trip around a DIY project such as building your own dog bed or raised feeder.
11. Build Your Own Dog Toys
There are tons of great online tutorials for building your own homemade dog toys. They can be as simple as a bottle sewn inside a sock or as intricate as spinning bottles on a dowel rod. You pick the toy that you want to build and your dog gets to enjoy it when you’ve finished. To get you started, we really like this guide and this one.
12. Have Playdates with Local Dogs
If your dog has a favorite neighborhood pup that they play with, why not make a standing play date throughout the winter months? Alternate between their house and yours and get to know your dog’s friends parent too. Better yet, how about doing some of these winter adventures together with another dog owner friend?
13. Take a Doggy Class
Most towns have a dog obedience school locally that offers a range of classes. You can undertake basic obedience, advanced obedience, shy dogs class, CGC training, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s a great opportunity to teach your dog how to behave like a true gentleman.
Strapped for money? Check in with your local shelters, rescues, grooming salons or community colleges – some of them occasionally arrange free classes for dog owners.
14. Give Skijoring a Shot
Skijoring is a sport across between skiing and sled racing. You strap on a pair of skis, hook your pup up to a skijoring harness and off you go. Although it’s probably better to find a local group or class to get you started, learning to go sijoring with your pup can be pretty tricky.
15. Play Fetch
Not every dog or owner likes to play out in the snow, but if you and your pooch do, then a game of fetch can be a lot of fun in this weather. Find a bright tennis ball and throw it and see if your pup can dig it out of all of that snow. Just don’t be surprised if they throw in the towel and go back inside without you.
16. Play in the Snow
Sometimes, a simple romp in the snow with your dog can be fun. Wrap up warm and make sure your pup is wrapped up too, and head out to play in the white stuff. You can build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or make snow angels. Take pictures afterwards!
17. Teach Your Dog Fun Tricks
You don’t have to enroll in a class to teach your dog tricks. There are plenty of great online sites and Amazon books filled with tricks that you can teach your dog at home. This is a great idea especially if you are snowed in for most of the winter. By the time the snow thaws, your dog will be the smartest one on the block.
18. Put Some Time Into Obedience Training
If your dog has already been through obedience classes, winter is a great time to practice and reinforce that training. It’s not always an exciting adventure, but if you start teaching your pup new obedience tricks and begin seeing progress, it can be pretty fun for the both of you (especially if treats are involved).
19. Teach Your Dog Vocabulary
The dog with the largest vocabulary in the world recognizes and understands over 1,000 words, how many does your dog know? Endeavor to teach your dog more vocabulary words over the winter, you can even use it as an opportunity to teach your dog to put their own toys away. Need some inspiration? Check out this woman that taught her dog how to talk, all by herself.
20. Try Your Hand at Baking Dog Treats
If you love to bake or just like the smell of baking in the house during winter then try your hand at baking dog treats! Amazon has plenty of dog treat recipe books like this one available, but there are even more free homemade dog food recipes available online.
Don't forget to check our extensive list of DIY dog treat recipes, too. Pick one that’s right for your pup, their diet and this time of year, and get baking. Your dog is bound to love the results, especially if you involve them in the process.
21. Check Out Dog-Friendly Vacation Resorts
If you really want to take an adventure that you can call an Adventure, get out of town by booking a dog-friendly vacation rental or going to one of those 100 dog-friendly hotels. It's even better if you can get out and do more things around there, like hike up a giant mountain. Just be sure to check the weather forecast before you go so that you’re prepared.
22. Find a Local Indoor Dog Park
Not all cities offer indoor dog parks, but most have indoor doggy daycare facilities that you can take your dog to instead. Both of these opportunities give your pup the chance to get out lots of energy and play with friends while you get the chance for a break!
23. Create an Indoor Agility Course
If you have space indoors and a dog that is interested in agility, set up an indoor agility course for your pup. They don’t even have to be interested in agility – just set up couch cushion obstacles, make tunnels out of tables and sheets, and set up chairs as weave poles. It’s a fun way to see just how agile your dog can be and it’s entertaining for your dog to do something new.
24. Teach Your Dog to Play Hide and Seek, or “Find It”
Snowed in? Teach your dog how to play hide and seek or “find it” by hiding items in the house and helping your dog find them. It’s a great chance for your dog to exercise their scent work and it’s a rewarding and fun game for you both!
I personally used to have a black Labrador who learned to play “find it” with “warmer” and “colder” clues. It was always so much fun for the both of us to play and he was so proud every time he found the “prize”.
25. Challenge Your Dog’s Nose
There are plenty of ways that you can challenge your dog’s nose (sense of smell). One of my favorite games with my Lab was to do some nose work: take one treat and close both hands. He would then have to guess which hand the treat was in based on his sense of smell. He caught on quickly though, so we would soon progress to more complicated puzzle toys and games instead!
If you are interested in puzzle toys or interactive dog toys for your pup, Amazon has some great items for sale. I always purchased the Trixie brand wooden puzzle toys for my Lab and they were always very durable and challenging.
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