Activities For Dogs Who Like Snow

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Introduction

Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people actually like the snow and some dogs do too! Winter activities don't have to be reserved for indoor activities only, since, as long as your dog has a coat or a natural double coat, they'll likely expel enough energy to stay both warm and entertained while outside, even in the depths of heavy snow season. While smaller dogs may have a tougher time trudging through the taller drifts, any dog that enjoys the snow and cold most certainly has the capacity to have some fun in it as well. And when all is said and done, you might learn something about your dog if they don't learn something new in the process as well. So put down that hot chocolate, grab your tails and hit the snowy trails!

Skijoring

Popular
0 Votes
Cold Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 90 Minutes
Items needed
Dog Coat
Towing Harness
Line
Skis
Skijoring belt/harness
Treats
Activity description
Your dog doesn't have to be a sled-pulling Husky to glow in the snow. In fact, most people who enjoy skiing find skijoring just as much fun, if not more so. Skijoring is a combination of mushing and skiing - your dog pulls you along on your skis with the help of a line and special harness. If you already have skis, all you need is a special towing harness for them (evenly distributes weight/pull across their chest/back better than a standard harness), a towing belt for you, the line, which can be as simple as a long leash, and a dog over 35 pounds or so that can manage pulling your weight without struggling or hurting themselves. It's reserved for winter as you need snow, but only takes a few additional supplies for most skiers and therefore imparts only moderate costs and can be done as short or long as you can both remain comfortably upright.
Step
1
Training
Most dogs that do well with basic commands will do just fine with skijoring, but you'll have to train them first. There are really only four basic commands needed which are start, stop, turn left, and turn right. You may have similar commands already in the arsenal, but many owners prefer to use separate words to save confusion. Many use the classic sledding commands of hike (go), whoa (stop), gee (left) and haw (right). Start without skis and rig your and your dog's harnesses up, then start training them on the commands using treats and praise as motivation while walking or jogging behind them. It may take a few sessions but don't get discouraged, new commands and activities take time but once you get through the tougher parts, you've got a great new activity to enjoy in the snow.
Step
2
Field test
Once your dog has down the basic commands, it's time for a field test. First, you'll want to get to where you can take a snowy trail before hooking everything up, otherwise you may both be uncomfortably overburdened on the way there. Once you get in your skis and out to the trail head, call your dog over to wait as you get everything rigged up. On your end, secure the belt around your waist tightly but comfortably so there is little slack (many use a slightly modified rock climbing harness that also includes the legs for a more even pull). Attach the line to your harness, then have your dog come close enough to get them in their own harness if it's not on already. Attach the line in between the two and make sure all connections are secure. Have them get in position in front of you and then give them the first command.
Step
3
Enjoy the day with patience
Off you go! Make sure to stop your canine pal if they're not listening well or not getting the commands, as the pressure to perform can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when it's new. Do your best to maintain patience and start at slow speeds until you both get your feet under you. Once you both have it down you can hit the trails full speed and even do time trials if you get good enough.
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Snow Tracks

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Cold Day
Free
Easy
15 - 45 Minutes
Items needed
Shovel
At least 4 to 6 inches of snow
Activity description
The best part about winter besides sitting inside and drinking hot chocolate is that Mother Nature pummels us with the most malleable form of precipitation possible: Snow! While most people think snow forts and snowball fights, there's certainly plenty you can do with snow as long as it's just wet enough to mold and hold. Making snow tracks and courses can be one of the most fun ways to spend a snowy afternoon and will get both you and your dog some well-needed exercise (plus you can still go inside after and have your hot chocolate anyway). All you need is a shovel and good, packable snow (at least 4 to 6 inches to make it well-defined) and you've got the makings of some seriously fun minutes, if not hours. So what are snow tracks? Anything you want! You can make race tracks and obstacle courses of all shapes and sizes. And best of all, if the weather holds, your track will stay in place for days, if not longer, meaning you can re-use or re-make them any way you like for as long as they last.
Step
1
Create a design
Depending on your dog's size and physical ability, you can make a pretty wide variety of courses. The first step is figuring out which will work best for your dog. For instance, if they love to run, make a race track. Grab a piece of paper (or better yet, a dry erase board) and draw up a course you think would be fun, adding loops and turns wherever you want, even adding in piles to jump over if you want to give them an extra challenge. Once you've got your design, grab a shovel and your dog and get outside!
Step
2
Build it and they will race
Locate a good spot to plop your course, whether it's in the yard or in a nearby park. Make sure to allot enough room in the direction you plan to orient the course. It's no fun to get to near-completion only to run out of room! (Although the beauty of snow is easy modification.) Start by dragging the shovel behind you in the pattern of your course to map it out and gauge size and space. Once it's laid out, you can start digging. Heap the shovelfuls of snow from the track/course to the edge and pack it down as necessary to make sure it doesn't just roll back into the course. Once you've got it carved out, shovel snow from outside the course up onto the sides to make walls. Most dogs will get the picture if the snow walls are at least chest high, though it might be tough with a bigger dog if you don't have enough snow. Then, add your finishing touches such as snow hurdles or additional height to add extra difficulty to the course.
Step
3
Off to the races!
Once your course is completed, get your dog to jump inside with you and see how they react, then start walking or jogging the course yourself to see if you can get them to follow, using treats if necessary. Go through the course several times so they get the feel for it, then start ramping up the speed. Once you get to a run, you can introduce a timer, race them yourself, or even add more dogs. Some may be more prone to jumping over the edges and out of the course, but if they stay interested enough, you've got yourself a full-on doggy race course! Once it's built, it takes little to add new legs and modify the overall path so it stays as fresh to you and them as the newly-fallen snow.
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Snow Fetch

Popular
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Cold Day
Free
Easy
10 - 60 Minutes
Items needed
Favorite fetch-able toy
Activity description
Fetch is about as standard as it gets when it comes to dog games and while many owners regularly employ it, others may have grown weary of its simple mechanics and repetitive nature. But snow fetch? That's a completely different story! Not only do dogs have to work harder due to the resistance of the snow, they also can't use their eyes as much since the toy often disappears into banks and drifts when it finally plops down, forcing them to search longer and use their noses as well, combining a scent-based exercise with one that's a bit more high energy. Plus, it's easy, cheap, since you likely already have a fetch-able toy, needs only snow and open space, and can be done for just a few minutes or over an hour, depending on both of your endurance and tolerance for the cold.
Step
1
Chuck it!
Snow fetch is about as simple as it gets. Grab your dog, your dog's favorite fetch-able toy and get outside into a safe, open space with lots of snow. Then let it rip! Wind up and heave it as far as you can while they watch, chase, and try to dig it out.
Step
2
Create a challenge
For added difficulty, grab multiple toys and throw either one and then the other right after, or throw them both at the same time, as your dog will likely only be able to follow one at a time, then search for the other. Don't hesitate to introduce a timer or more toys for additional fun.
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More Fun Ideas...

Snow Boarder

Switch roles! If your pup is too small to pull you or you just want a change of pace, plop them in a sled and pull them yourself. If they're a fan of car rides, they'll probably take great joy in being able to take in the views without having to do any work.

Sled Pulling

Like skijoring, sled pulling can be a great way to get your dog some exercise and you some entertainment. Just make sure to use a good, specialized hauling collar to minimize any potential risks.

Snow Hunt

Instead of tossing a toy and having your dog fetch it, get them distracted or keep them in the house while you go bury a few particularly smelly treats in the snow in the yard or park. Grind your hand into the snow until you make a hole and drop the treat in the bottom. For a bigger challenge, cover them up! Just don't forget where you put them unless you don't mind wasting treats.

Conclusion

Just because there's snow on the ground doesn't mean you have to steer clear. If our examples above are any indicator, you can steer around it, over it, into it, or even right through it and still have a ton of fun in the process. Getting outside with your dog is always a great way to allow them some exercise, provide additional mental stimulation to go along with the physical exertion and at the end of the day (or even just activity), you'll probably have a fully pooped pup who's ready to relax with you (and likely dry off) by the fire.