Activities For Dogs In New Mexico On Cold Days

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Introduction

Like most of it's Eastern and Western neighbors, New Mexico is often more well-known for its vast expanses of desert, rocky outcroppings and dry heat. But in winter, there's no denying it also gets cold - the average low falls under 32 degrees for nearly five months! Unfortunately, much of its outdoor activities in winter mostly center around skiing, which is not something your dog will be able to enjoy as well unless you introduce them to skijoring. But that also doesn't mean there's nothing for you two to do but sit around trying to avoid the chills. With the right know-how and a little creativity, you and your dog can make the Land of Enchantment a year-round sentiment.

Nights of Lights

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0 Votes
Cold Day
Free
Easy
30 - 120 min
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Dog Jacket
Camera
Activity description
In North America, cold weather is almost universally synonymous with the holidays and there are certainly plenty to choose from. But one that often stands above the rest is the winter solstice, which is surrounded by Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and most commonly, Christmas, all of which include their own respective celebrations, many of which can be enjoyed by all, regardless of religious background. More often than not, towns will decorate their streets with holiday lights, many for the entire month of December and beyond, leaving more than enough free or cheap opportunities to tour them and enjoy at your leisure. Since they only come once a year, it's a perfect way to get in some holiday cheer, get your dog a walk, and have something new and exciting to look at.
Step
1
Get the lights in your sights
The toughest part about enjoying holiday lights is finding ones that are actually worth going and seeing. Plenty of neighborhoods decorate their houses, but they are often a bit sporadic. If you're looking for something more thorough, start by doing an online search for holiday light tours or neighborhoods nearby that all participate. Be careful, however, as many neighborhoods charter buses that aren't dog-friendly, and won't just let you walk through either. The same goes for the botanical gardens. They have awesome lights but for whatever reason, they don't want dogs inside. That's why our best suggestions are to check out the Elephant Butte Luminaria Beachwalk, which is gorgeous to begin with - even more so in the evening glow - and even includes a boat parade, and The Plaza in Santa Fe, which is beautifully decorated from head to toe for the holidays. Figure out which evenings the events are being held and double check to ensure dog-friendliness.
Step
2
Wrap like presents and give yourselves a gift
Once an appropriate day comes, make sure you've got the right clothes to bundle up in for a few hours outdoors. If you dog isn't winterized (AKA has a hefty coat), consider getting them one to make sure they're warm and comfortable during your adventure. Since you may not be allowed inside to get one, you can always make yourself a hot tea or hot chocolate at home and pack it in a container that will retain the heat until you arrive at your destination. Otherwise, wrap yourselves up, grab your supplies and hit the road. Make sure once you do reach your destination that you provide a bathroom break so both you don't have to worry about any potential messes and can enjoy the holiday time more thoroughly. We also suggest bringing a camera, as you may find some cool spots to take pictures. More than all else, have fun!
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Hallow-wienerdog

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Cold Day
Cheap
Normal
30 - 180 min
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Costume or crafting materials
Activity description
When it comes to the holidays, few cater to dogs like Halloween. Doggy bakeries roll out uniquely decorated holiday-themed treats and shelves fill up with canine costumes weeks, if not months, in advance. The best part is, you can make your Halloween festivities a multi-event affair. You can escape the cold by taking your dog shopping for a new costume or spend time with them while you make one of your own, let alone registering them (and yourself) for costume contests, then enjoying the spoils of your victory. It's perfect for cold weather since the costume will help keep them warm (and since it falls in late October anyway), is almost always relatively inexpensive, and will give you two multiple different days and times to enjoy the experience.
Step
1
Canine costume
The first step of the process is finding a costume. Consider whether you want to just dress your dog up, dress up as well, or come up with an idea that will pair you two in something complementary. If you have a solid idea, you can always search online or take your dog to different pet stores to see what they have in stock. If not, you can always use that shopping time as inspiration and see what comes to you. Taking them to a store to look will give you both something to do, get your creative juices flowing, and will give you something new to look for outside of the standard toys, chewies, and food. If you decide to make one yourself, you'll need them nearby to measure and fit, and in the process, will help you spend good time together.
Step
2
Get your spooky pooch on the loose
Once you have a costume made or purchased, do some research about what you can do with your dog once they're dressed up. New Mexico has numerous doggy costume contests that you can enter them in, from Howl & Growl to photo contests. Some bars will hold much of the same, so don't hesitate to think a bit unconventional. Some places even have dog-friendly trick-or-treating that will supply them with dog-appropriate treats instead of candy! Almost all options will ensure at least some exercise, socializing, and fun for all.
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Winter Hike

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
30 - 180 min
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Activity description
Despite when many people choose to do so, hiking in hot weather can often be burdensome. You have to worry about getting too much sun, overheating, staying hydrated, and of course, the active wildlife, depending on the time of day. Although less popular, winter hikes can be a great time and the perfect way to get exercise in winter, see old favorites in a new light, or even just explore something new altogether. The best part is, if you wrap yourself and your dog up right, you can likely endure longer hikes, won't likely have to battle as many other hikers for space and you won't have to worry about as much dangerous wildlife, as brumation will keep snakes dormant during the colder months.
Step
1
Pick your park
The first step in the process is finding a park that meets multiple criteria. First, it has to be close and accessible enough that cold or inclement weather won't leave you stranded or driving for hours on end. Second, it will have to be dog-friendly. There are certainly quite a few great spots that are, like Rinconada Canyon Trail, San Vincente Trail and the trails of Rockhound State Park, but there are plenty more that aren't, so make sure you do your research beforehand and learn the rules and regulations that surround them.
Step
2
Be prepared
Third, choose your trail depending on the local weather. It may not be snowy by you, but if you plan a hike somewhere higher that received precipitation, you'll want to dress appropriately and choose a trail without too much quick elevation change in case it gets slippery to ensure your and your dog's overall safety. Fourth, sheerly for the sake of entertainment, pick a park that will benefit from the cold weather. Parks with trees, large snowy valleys or snow-capped peaks make for the best viewing, compared to a flat open field and a field scattered rocks. Make sure there is a station you can stop at for a map or have one ready digitally in case the weather gets extreme.
Step
3
Strike out on your hike
Next, get together your supplies. Make sure to bring some water and snacks if necessary, depending on the length of your hike. A backpack for adding or subtracting layers can be super helpful, especially since the weather can easily change on longer hikes. While you don't have to worry about getting burned by the sun as much, you will have to worry about overheating and potentially sweating, which can be just as dangerous, or not having enough clothing to keep you warm and comfortable. Consider the weather for that day as well as the length and intensity of the hike. Once you've got everything in line, grab your supplies and your dog and hit the road. Then have fun hiking!
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More Fun Ideas...

Winter Rental

Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. Search the likes of Airbnb and other home rental sites for a truly unique place (with a view, a new yard to play in or sledding hill nearby, perhaps?). You can explore a new space outside, stay warm inside, and find lots of new places to play.

Folds of Origami

Remember when we said some natural places are just cooler in winter? Well, the Origami in the Garden shapes of Los Cerrillos look just as neat against the white contrast of winter as they do against the greens and reds of summer. Drive past, take pictures, and stay comfy in the warmth of your car.

Try Something Alien

If it's just too cold and miserable outside, stay inside! You can always go to the International UFO Museum and Research Center and bring your dog too! Admission is super cheap and it's at least an hour of interesting information. That is, as long as you're at least entertained by the thought of aliens.

Conclusion

Just because winter is upon us in New Mexico doesn't mean you either have to be skiing or stuck inside trying to stay warm. There are plenty of ways you and your dog can find some unique winter fun that will have you begging for more in the coming years. We hope our list has given you at least some ideas of what to do, or better yet, inspired you to come up with some of your own. If you're still at a loss, feel free to check out our other New Mexico guides just in case something piques your interest that works just as well in summer as it does in winter!