Planning to carve out some time in your winter schedule to spend with your pet? This holiday season, consider participating in some winter activities that you’ll both enjoy. It’s not unusual for dogs to get “cabin fever” during the winter when they’re stuck inside. In addition, lack of exercise can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Help your pup release pent-up energy with these fun winter activities:
Hiking can be an adventurous activity for both pets and pet parents. Many dogs enjoy sniffing around the forest, seeing new sights, and staying active. Some breeds are natural hikers, such as the German Shorthaired Pointer, Mountain Cur, and Australian Shepherd. Depending on the breed and the age of your dog, hikes may need to be limited to no more than 30 minutes to ward off winter hazards.
2. Snow Play
If you live in an area that gets snow, dress warmly and head outside to play. Dogs love doing zoomies in freshly fallen snow, and some may enjoy playing fetch with snowballs. If your pet likes to dig, encourage them to dig in the snow to burn energy. You can make it more fun by hiding a treat or ball under the snow’s surface that requires them to dig down for a surprise.
3. Hide and Seek
On particularly cold days, going outdoors may not be possible. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities you can do inside with your pet. Hide and Seek isn’t just a kids' game. Many dogs enjoy it too. Choose a hiding place inside the home then allow your dog to find you. This activity encourages your pet to use their keen sense of smell to find your location quickly. If they’re successful, reward them with a treat.
Skijoring, otherwise known as dog skiing, is an outdoor activity beloved by many active breeds. This popular winter sport involves cross-country skiing with your dog in tow. For this winter activity, you’ll need a pulling harness, a quick-release tug line, a skijor belt, and a warm coat for your dog. As the snow and cold temperatures can be tough on dog paws, it’s also important to prep your dog’s paw pads before the activity with paw wax. Alternatively, you can have your pet wear a pair of dog booties.
5. Scavenger Hunt
Many pets enjoy having a “job” to do. Scavenger hunts provide dogs with a challenge that stimulates their brain and keeps them active. You don’t have to stray far to set up a scavenger hunt for your pet. Simply hide treats and toys in your own backyard and encourage your pet to find them. Hide items in empty flower pots or under other items you may have in the yard. You can also create small snow mounds with treats hidden inside.
6. Agility Course
A DIY agility course is a fun way to spend the day with your pup. Look around your home and find items that could be used for the course, such as stacked books your dog can jump over, or large plastic bottles filled with water that your pet can weave around. Crawl tunnels can be made using chairs and broomsticks can be set up for a higher jump. Use your creativity to create a track around the home that will engage your dog.
7. Dog Yoga
Dog yoga is sweeping the nation so you might be surprised to find a class near you. This is a great opportunity to spend time with your dog and other pet lovers, especially if your dog is energetic or social. As the name suggests, dog yoga or “doga” is where you include your dog in yoga practice, allowing them to get as involved as they’re comfortable with.
8. Drive-In Movie
Drive-in movies offer you and your pet a fun way to get out of the house to relax. While your dog may not watch the actual movie, he’ll love spending time in the passenger seat cozy in a blanket, or cuddled in your lap. Of course, you’ll want to have some pet-friendly snacks ready to share with your pup, like a few pieces of popcorn.
Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Winter
While most pets can handle time outdoors in the winter, it’s important to be cautious when dealing with snow, ice, and cold temperatures. This holiday season, remember the following tips when spending time with your pet:
- Create a Pet First Aid Kit: Don’t set out for a winter adventure without a pet first aid kit in case of emergencies. This kit should include items like self-adhesive bandages, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial ointment, and gauze pads.
- Use Pet-Friendly Ice Melt: Many ice melts contain harmful chemicals that can be dangerous if ingested and can cause skin irritation or even burns. Use pet-friendly ice melt outside the home when necessary.
- Know the Signs: Become familiar with the signs of frostbite and hypothermia in pets if they spend time outdoors.
- Use a Leash When Outdoors: While you may think that your pet won’t run off, there is always a risk. Keep your pet safely on a leash, especially when near frozen bodies of water.
The festive holiday season is the perfect time of year to engage in fun activities with your pet. Whether indoors or out, you’re sure to find exciting activities to do together.
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