Dogs playing with yellow tennis balls while training in the snow

Getting Your Dog Outside In The Winter For Work And Play Is Good Exercise And Lots Of Fun!

Getting Outside With Your Dog Is Important All Year. 

If you live in Ontario, winter is a reality you just have to live with. For at least five months of the year, it’s cold, snowy and gets dark early. Heading outside means layering up and, if you’re a dog owner, it could mean getting your pooch bundled up, too. Finding the motivation to take your training and play outside can be tough. But, taking your dog outside in the winter is important for his physical and mental well-being.

Person walking a dog on leash in the snow.

Taking Your Dog Outside In The Winter Helps To Avoid Bad Indoor Behaviour

If your dog is used to getting outside every day, it’s important to keep that routine going–even in the winter. For most dogs, not getting enough time outside is a recipe for trouble. A lack of exercise and mental stimulation can leave your dog feeling bored and restless. And a bored dog is much more likely to get into mischief.

Signs Of A Bored Or Restless Dog 

If your dog is misbehaving it could be a sign that he isn’t being physically and mentally challenged enough.  A bored or restless dog is more like to: 

  • Chew furniture, shoes or pillows
  • Nose around in trash cans or cupboards 
  • Bark and jump 
  • Beg you for attention 

Whether it’s June or January, taking your dog outside is a sure-fire cure to doggy boredom. So bundle up and get out there! 

Training In The Snow Is Fun And Challenging For Your Dog 

Playing with your dog indoors is great. Obedience training, mini-agility courses, and even fetch are all possible in a house or apartment. But, can your dog really run and let loose inside? Probably not. No matter how much you hate the cold, you can’t stay inside all winter. Getting your dog outside in the winter is a must! 

Three medium sized gods playing with yellow tennis balls in the snow.

Benefits Of Training In The Snow

If you’re looking for an easy and stimulating way to burn your dog’s energy there’s not much that beats playing or training in the snow! 

  • The deeper the snow, the harder your dog will have to work to walk, run and jump through it.  
  • The world becomes a game of hide-and-seek when it snows! Your dog can smell things but has to search around to find them. This can make walks and even free time in your backyard very mentally stimulating. 
  • Commands and tricks that are old-hat to your dog become more challenging. 
  • The snow is fun and exciting! 

Ideas To Get You Out In The Snow With Your Dog 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to train your dog outside in the winter. It’s easy! If you’re sold on the idea of getting outside with your pooch this winter but you aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas. 

Snow Gives A Classic Game Like Fetch New Life! 

Playing fetch in the snow is tons of fun for you and your dog. It also helps your dog burn a ton of energy. Not only is playing fetch in the snow physically demanding, finding the ball once it lands in the snow is also a great mental workout for your pooch. Playing fetch is a great way to practice commands like “drop it”, “come” and “leave it”. It’s also a good substitute for a walk if the sidewalks are icy and unsafe. 

Hide And Seek In The Snow

Have you ever played hide and seek with your dog outside in the snow? If not, you should try it! Break up some of your dog’s favourite treats and hide them around your yard. Just tuck them into the snow and encourage your dog to find it! The better your dog gets, the more creative you can be with where you hide them. 

The focus and patience this winter game requires of your dog gives them a mental workout— not to mention the physical energy dogs burn by digging through the snow for snacks! This game is also a perfect opportunity to work on commands like “down” and “stay.” 

Build A Snow Maze! 

Dogs love to explore so run with it. Grab your shovel and build a mini-maze for your dog to navigate in your yard. You can up the excitement factor by hiding a few well-placed treats along the way! A snow maze is great mental stimulation for your dog and a fun activity to do together. (Remember, training is bonding!) 

Small french bulldog in winter coat standing on a rock in the snow.

Before You Head Outside To Play, Some Safety Tips

Before you head out to toss the ball or build a maze, make sure you and your dog are dressed for the occasion. Until the thermometer dips under -10C, most dogs are safe to spend some time outside in the winter. Depending on your dog’s breed, they may or may not need a jacket to spend more than a short time outside this winter. The same can be true of older dogs who are prone to getting chilly. Booties are another thing to consider if your pup struggles with the harsh salt and sand cities use to clear icy roads in the winter. 

If the temperature starts to dip down lower than -10C, you will want to pay special attention to your dog and keep your time outside shorter. If they start to show signs that they are cold (shivering, raising paws up off the ground, a loss of interest in playing or indicating they want to go back inside) wrap it up and take your dog inside.

Training Dogs In The Snow Is Challenging And A Lot Of Fun!

Getting outside to play and train is an important part of keeping your dog happy and healthy. Don’t let the cold and snow stop you from getting outside. Make sure you and your pooch are dressed for the weather. Get inspired to spend some time outside with your dog by trying some new activities and games— or rediscovering some classics!  

If you need a little moral support to brave the winter with your dog (and you live in Peterborough) join us for a Pack Walk. Every week we walk around downtown as a group to exercise and socialize our dogs. 

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