Winter is just around the corner, but the cold weather already has us bundling up and wishing we could hibernate like bears, curled up all snug next to the fireplace with our dogs. After all, it’s too cold to do anything else, right?
“NOPE!” – your dog, probably
There’s so much for you and your pup to do this winter to ward off cabin fever, and not all of it has to be indoors. We’ve pulled some ideas together for you to try out, so grab the leash, pull on those four lil’ snow booties, and let’s head out.
1) Hike At Nearby National & State Parks
Smaller city parks are great for an afternoon walk, but consider taking a look at the national parks near you—in our opinion, one of the best things to do in the US’ great outdoors! The larger parks may require a bit of a road trip depending on where you are, so take a long weekend and hit the trails.
More easily accessible state parks are also just as beautiful and full of things to sniff. Before you leash up and embark on your park adventure, always check the their guidelines about dog-friendly areas before you get caught barking up the wrong tree.
2) Visit An Indoor Dog Park
Indoor dog parks are the greatest invention since doggy doors! Too cold to be outside? Indoor dog parks! Too hot to be outside? Indoor dog parks! Raining cats and dogs? Indoor dog parks!
3) Go Sledding
Dogs (with expert off-leash recall) can’t resist a huge hill with fresh powder or snowball fetch! Some take after their humans and prefer riding down a hill on a sled, while other pups like sledding the good ol’ fashioned way—on their bellies. Make sure they have a collar on with an updated ID tag, are chipped or wearing a GPS collar, and avoid sledding in crowded areas where they could collide with an unsuspecting human. Oh, and don’t eat the yellow snow!
4) Try Skijoring
Never heard of skijoring? Imagine a mix between skiing and a dog sled—your harnessed dog(s) pulls you around in the snow while you’re wearing skis. It’s probably obvious this sport is more popular with sled dogs like huskies and malamutes, but many large, active breeds love skijoring just as much! Consider bundling short-haired breeds up with coats and booties for extended time in the cold.
5) Include Your Dog In Yoga Class
If you’ve ever attempted working out with your dog in the room, then you already have a good idea how this one is going to go. Be prepared for an hour of 10% zen and 90% comedy, but 100% fun for your dog! You might luck out and find an in-person class near you, but you can always try joining a virtual class in the comfort of your own home.
6) Grab Lunch At A Dog-Friendly Café Or Restaurant
Not only are restaurants with dog-friendly seating areas popping up more and more, but some even offer a menu just for your pup with things like steak, eggs, or hot dogs! Although dogs are usually only allowed in outdoor patio areas, many restaurants have outdoor heaters to keep you both toasty.
7) Go On A Shopping Trip
Of course, a trip to the pet store is always filled with new butts to sniff (dogs, that is; please refrain from sniffing other customers’ bums), and tasty treats to inspect on low shelves, but there’s a whole bunch of human stores that welcome pups to shop, too!
8) Bring The Fun Home (Every Month!)
What do dogs love more than anything in the world? Floor bacon, sure. Stealing underwear, maybe. Toys? Without a doubt.
BarkBox’s Slobber Party theme arrives in January! Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription!
9) Keep Your Dog Busy With Treat Puzzles
We have a million things to entertain us on a screen when we’re bored, but unless we’re actively doing something with our dogs, they need some brain-flexing solo activities. Treat puzzles like those from Nina Ottosson range in difficulty levels depending on your pup’s puzzlin’ skills, but you can always opt for something simple and rewarding, like frozen peanut butter or treats in a toy like the Super Chewer Summit.
10) Set Up A Puppy Play Date
Call some friends who have dogs and set up a play date or puppy party. Be that overly-obsessed dog parent! Bring streamers, set up a photoshoot area, and give the party a theme. Go all out and have no shame, you dog-loving weirdo! (BRB, ordering my dog some party hats.)
11) Book A Walking Tour Of Your City
Bundle up! Grab the water bottles and leash and be a tourist in your own town! Many larger cities offer walking tours throughout the winter. You might find a tour on your city’s history, architecture, or even a foodie or ghost tour that allows pups to come along on the journey.
12) Sign Up For An Agility Or Obedience Class
You know those obedience classes you kept putting off when your dog was a puppy? Mr. Noodle might be 7 years old now, but old dogs can learn new tricks! Find some obedience or agility classes offered near you and it’ll keep you both busy all winter.
Related Article: Why Everyone Should Take Their Dog To Basic Obedience Training
13) Teach New Tricks
If your dog already has the basic commands down—sit, down, stay‚ etc.—try stepping it up with some more interesting tricks this winter, like how to fetch a White Claw out of the fridge for you!
14) Teach Them How To Use Talking Buttons
This new trend is wild! People are teaching their dogs to communicate using voice-recordable buttons! You can record your own voice on these buttons with any words or phrases; start with simple words like “food” or “potty” and teach them to hit the button while you’re feeding them or taking them out, until they catch on and hit the button to ask for those things in advance.
Some people have worked up to multiple buttons, including phrases like “I love you!” This is the closest we’ve come to a real life Dug from Pixar’s Up, y’all.
15) Start An Instagram or TikTok Account For Your Dog
How else will your dog communicate with all their dog friends around the world? It also gives you the perfect excuse for a phone upgrade so you can get their best side, every time.
16) Watch TV Shows Made For Dogs
You can’t really blame your dog for getting bored while you plop down for your next Netflix binge. Everyone on-screen probably just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your dog’s ears, but that’s probably why DogTV was invented. All the shows are made just to entertain your pup!
17) Read Or Snuggle In Front Of The Fire
Cozy fireplace lighting, snow falling outside the window, a glass of wine, and your pup snuggled up under your arm… such a mood.