Don’t become a couch potato! It’s important to maintain fitness throughout the year, and even when temperatures drop, you and your dog should engage in activities that provide mental and physical stimulation. Choosing a variety of indoor and outdoor activities will keep you and your dog in shape throughout the cold, winter months.
The popular activities below can involve friends and fellow dog lovers, and many take little to no money to partake. Remember to check with your veterinarian before starting new, challenging sports, and when you have the green light to go—head to your local winter wonderland.
Whether your dog is in the sled or pulling it, you can have great fun. Mushing requires a good deal of equipment and is limited to dogs suited to this sport. Traditionally, Huskies, Malamutes and other Nordic breeds have been the go-to dogs for this activity, but today’s mushing superstars feature Alaskan Huskies that have been selectively bred for endurance. Ancestors include the Nordics, along with other breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Greyhounds and even Pointers. Dogs of these types may enjoy a leisurely afternoon of pulling a sled—but don’t expect them to make it to Nome!
Smaller dogs might enjoy riding a toboggan with you, or having you pull them around town in a sled built for children. Regardless, make sure your dog is prepared for the frigid temps, with sweaters and blankets available to all riders. Well-fitting harnesses and booties are essential for the pullers.
Cross-country skiing or skijoring
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, chances are you’ve tried skiing. Different from downhill skiing, where your dog would not be welcome or fit, cross-country skiing provides a perfect opportunity for dogs to accompany their people. You can trek through a forest and carve your own path, but a better choice is to check local resorts for established trails. You can simply include your dogs as if you were on a wintertime walk, or experiment with skijoring, a sport where your dog will help you traverse through the countryside, pulling you along. Make sure your dog’s paws are in top shape, and consider booties for this activity.
Hiking and walking
Weather permitting, a jaunt through the park is invigorating and allows you to enjoy great scenery as you burn calories and bond with your canine companion. You can schedule these hikes to meet with friends, or take it a step further and start a hiking group in your area. Walks can also take place in city environments, or can even be taken indoors if you find a mall or store that allows dogs. Always check your dog’s paws before and after a hike or walk to look for ice buildup and debris that can be caught in the fur.
Attending sporting events
Do you like to watch local athletes compete? Perhaps a hockey or football team competes outdoors near you. Other sports, such as curling and figure skating, may offer opportunities for you and Fido to attend. If permitted, take your dog along for the fun. You will find that a well-behaved dog will be welcomed and appreciated. Your dog will also keep you warm throughout the game.
One of the best activities of winter involves visits to friends and relatives during the holidays. Check ahead to be sure your dog is welcome, and remember to take along dog supplies (food, leash, clean-up bags, etc.) to make your visit pleasant for all. Enjoy the small stuff—watching a movie, sharing memories, playing a game – your dog will enjoy just being with you and participating in the camaraderie. You may even want to offer your dog his or her favorite CANIDAE® dog treats as an added perk!
While winter presents many fun opportunities to hang out with your pup, the elements can be unforgiving. Check out our article on “Tips for Protecting Your Dog During Cold Winter Months” for some health and safety guidelines before you head out to play in the snow.