Activities For Dogs In Tennessee On Cold Days

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Introduction

Although most people don't often look forward to cold weather alone, especially the outdoor types with canine companions, that doesn't mean there's nothing to enjoy from late fall through winter. In fact, some of the most fun holidays and experiences are exclusive to this time of year and there's little doubt Tennesseans know how to celebrate - they can, after all, proudly claim Jack Daniels, Elvis, country music and dancing until the morning light year-round (and hot chicken in the cold doesn't hurt either). So even if it feels like the biting winds should keep you in, throw on some gloves, grab a leash in one hand and a hot drink in the other and do-si-do right through it towards your next adventure. We're here to Volunteer up some ideas.

Barktober to Novembark

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Costume
Activity description
While cold weather doesn't officially start nipping at your heels until November, there's little doubt it doesn't rear its ugly head as early as October, suitably right around when many fall celebrations kick into high gear. There are lots of great events being held this time of year from Octoberfest (or Barktoberfest) to Halloween (or Howl-o-ween) so even if you're not one for dressing up, there are still plenty of ways to have some unique fun with your dog. Most of them are cheap, are as easy as showing up and participating and should give you a healthy block of events to add to your calendar all month long.
Step
1
Fests are the best
The earliest event you'll likely run into will be Barktoberfest and several cities around the state have made it an annual tradition. One of our favorites is the one held in Johnson City. Hosted by the Washington County Humane Society, this fur-tastic event features loads of fun activities from a canine costume contest to a bark-or-treat village and even a 5k that gives proceeds to local animals in need. There is even a puppy bowl as well as canine demonstrations amongst others. But don't forget to check your local events calendar for others. Most are hosted by non-profits or at least donate some of the benefits to local shelters, so you can enjoy multiple events all while giving back to the community.
Step
2
Howl-o-ween events
Octoberfest isn't the only fall holiday with a doggy theme. Howl-o-ween is another great option if you're looking for some more holiday fun to participate in and they are mutually beneficial to hosts and guests just like Barktoberfest. The event held by the University of Tennessee is easily one of the best, as it not only offers a costumed pooch parade, but even features educational booths, rescue groups and other dog-centric exhibitors who are not only looking to provide a fun time, but educate the public on the importance of the school's veterinary medicine branch, adoption, and even good doggy diets. Like Barktoberfest, similar events are scattered across the state, so look through other local listings to see what your area offers.
Step
3
Spook-a-pooch
If you're looking to get truly spooky, you'll have to take one step further to get into the true Hallow's Eve spirit by trying to see one or two of them yourself. Chattanooga's dark history makes it the perfect place to try to catch some of the unrest, and both Chattanooga Ghost Tours and Ghost City Tours offer dog-friendly walks around some of the city's most notoriously haunted hotspots. It's said that dogs are even more attune to supernatural happenings, so make sure you've got a dog brave enough to join you. There's nothing worse than a dog who scares off people quicker than the ghosts they're supposed to be seeing!
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Winter Wagderland

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
45 - 180 min
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Activity description
When it comes to things you can really only see one time of year, it's certainly the type of jolly vibe that surrounds Christmas and other December holidays. The music changes, the lights change and even the attitude of the people change, all to make things feel a bit more magical. If you want to enjoy some of that magic with your dog, consider doing some pawliday shopping, see some lights or even attend winter festivals, as they will undoubtedly immerse you in the feeling of the season. Most of them are inexpensive (minus the shopping, depending what you buy), easy, accessible (as many go on throughout the season) and provide a variety of different activities.
Step
1
Christmas shops
While there are plenty of places you can do some holiday shopping with your dog like chain clothing and outdoor stores, the best places to go are those that are fully decorated with seasonal flair. One of our favorite spots to go is the Village Shops in Gatlinburg. In late November and early December, the German-looking shops decorate their storefronts, trees and plaza with tons of lights, wreaths and ornaments, giving it a truly special feel that will have you and your dog gleefully basking in the glow. The plaza and walking area are cool as is, but many of the shops are also dog-friendly, (though you should always make sure before entering), so the two of you can enjoy the decorations inside and out while securing gifts for others.
Step
2
Lights for nights
While it may seem like nearly every town has a neighborhood that goes full-bore on holiday lights, they aren't all created equal. Although the biggest cities normally have an advantage, few in Tennessee rival that of Lebanon, which features not one, but two fantastic light displays this time of year. The first is Chad's Winter Wonderland, which is one of the largest single light displays nationwide and features a thorough drive-thru light display that doesn't disappoint. It even opens Thanksgiving night and goes through New Years. You'll likely be limited to just the drive since they may not allow your dog to walk around and see Santa and the nearby shop, but it can't hurt to ask. Of course, there's also the Dancing Lights of Christmas drive-thru show as well, which will likely have the same restrictions but is well worth the performance alone if you and your dog want to stay warm while taking in a bit of holiday cheer.
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Winter Hikes

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Cold Day
Free
Easy
1 - 3 hrs
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Activity description
While most people prefer to do their hiking during the other three seasons of the year, Tennessee and a few other southern states have a specific advantage: mild winters. If it wasn't enough that you'll be able to beat the crowds who choose to stay indoors in winter, you'll also be able to avoid the discomfort of the state's hot and often humid summer temperatures and better yet, avoid all the insects and snakes that can often be an annoyance or even dangerous. Plus, you'll get to catch some new views of places you may have already seen during other seasons, making it a unique opportunity to take advantage of.
Step
1
Pick your place
The first step is just about the same as it is in summer: picking where you want to hike. However, you'll have to be mindful of a few different elements in winter. First, you'll want to pick a hike based on the weather. For instance, it's probably not a good idea to choose a steep uphill climb or a hike with narrow paths near cliffs or large drops if there's snow on the ground. If there is none, you should be good and even if there is, all other types of hikes should still be suitable, as the state rarely sees too much heavy snow. Consider what you'll be able to see as well. Extra cold temperatures can make for some gorgeous landscapes when natural water features begin to freeze so keep that in mind as well.
Step
2
Pack your supplies
While you may not need some of the things you would during a hike any other time of the year, you still need a fair amount of supplies. You'll want good hiking shoes, warm, moisture-wicking socks so you don't sweat too much, a good jacket (and one for your dog as well), gloves, a hat (weather depending) and water, plus all the regular dog supplies like dog bags and a leash. You can always overpack a bit and bring a bag, but you're at the mercy of the elements as much in the height of summer as you are in winter. Make sure to prepare for the intensity and length of the trails.
Step
3
Tails and trails
Once you've picked your spot and packed your supplies, you and your pal are ready to hit the road! If you haven't already, make sure to check the weather before you leave or better yet, get a weather app for your smartphone in case it suddenly turns. (Given the picturesque nature, cameras are a good idea as well if you want to capture some natural winter magic.) Above all else, be safe and have fun!
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More Fun Ideas...

Winter Vacation

If you don't live in the area or just want somewhere to get away to, consider renting a dog-friendly cabin or Airbnb in a city nearby some of these attractions or up in the mountains where you and your pooch can curl up by a fire and do some reading after frolicking in the winter wind.

Get the Good Kind of Flea

If you want another fantastic place to do some indoor winter shopping, check out the Great Smokies Flea Market in Gatlinburg. The largest of its kind in the state, it offers a massive variety of goods, is open year round and of course, is also dog-friendly.

Cades Cove

For those who want to see a bit of natural beauty but don't want to freeze outside, consider taking your dog on a drive through Cades Cove. The 11-mile driving loop features tons of wildlife and beautiful landscapes you can't see the same any other time of year.

Conclusion

Sure, Tennessee doesn't get as cold in the late season as some other places across the country, but that doesn't mean it can't be a deterrent from getting outside and having some fun. Hopefully with the help of our guide you'll have some interesting options to explore when the temperature finally starts to drop. If nothing else, maybe you'll finally be able to voluntarily leave the house and explore more of the Volunteer State, even in the depths of winter!