6 min read

7 Ways to Keep Your Pets Active Once The Temperature Drops

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By Tim Falk

Published: 12/10/2021, edited: 12/10/2021

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Overview

Dogs need regular exercise — even when you may not want to give it to them. And when the temperature starts to drop and winter begins in earnest, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go outside.

But no one said you need to brave the elements to help your dog stay active. With just a little bit of creative thinking, you can give your pup all the exercise they need in the comfort of your own home. Check out these 7 great indoor activities for dogs this winter to help your dog stay happy and in shape.


person holding a dog's paw

Training session

Training should always be a part of your pup’s daily routine. It lets you teach your dog the polite way to behave, it offers heaps of mental stimulation for your dog, and it helps you and your pup build a stronger bond. And just because the weather has forced you indoors, there’s no reason for that to disrupt your daily dog training session.

The great thing about this activity is that the possibilities are basically endless. For example, you could work on your dog’s recall, tackle problem behaviors like drinking from the toilet, or maybe work on a party trick like teaching your pup to hide their face.

Keep sessions short and fun, and reward your dog with treats and praise to help motivate them. You can even treat your dog to several training sessions throughout the day, burning off excess energy and beating boredom at the same time.


Indoor agility course

Agility is a popular doggy sport that provides a “woofderful” physical and mental workout for canine participants. It’s also a sport that your dog can play at home — albeit in a modified form. 

Use your living room or your hallway to set up your pup’s very own indoor agility course. If you’ve got enough space, you could soon have them weaving in and out of poles, jumping hurdles, and going up over or under your homemade obstacles.

And no one said you had to model your indoor exercise arena on a conventional agility course. So why not build your pup a real Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course using cushions, toys, furniture? As long as it’s soft and safe for your pup, they’re sure to have fun while raising their heart rate at the same time.


Treasure hunt

Does your dog love a challenge almost as much as they love food? This is the indoor activity for you and your pup. 

This doggy scavenger hunt gives your pup a chance to stretch their legs, use their brain, and put their amazing sense of smell into action. All you have to do is hide some of your dog’s favorite treats around the house — you could even hide their kibble at meal time instead of feeding it to them in a bowl. 

Start by hiding in easy spots where your dog is guaranteed to sniff out a snack, but slowly graduate to more difficult spots. For example, try concealing bits of kibble under upturned cups and watch your pup use their smarts to earn a tasty reward.


Hide-and-seek

This next indoor winter activity for dogs is similar to a treasure hunt. But instead of sniffing out food, your pup has to find you. 

It’s a piece of cake to play, too. All you have to do is find a spot to hide while your dog is distracted or out of the room, then wait for them to come and find you. Start with relatively easy hiding spots while your dog gets the hang of it. You may need to call your dog to give them a hint to your location.

Reward them with cuddles and praise when they find you, and then graduate to more advanced hiding spots. It’s great mental stimulation for your dog, and a fun way to pass some time on a miserable winter day.

dog swimming with tennis ball in their mouth

Go swimming

Huh? Swimming in winter? Sounds silly, but give us a minute to explain first. While many of your dog’s favorite swimming spots may be off-limits in the colder months, they can still indulge in some aquatic activity.

If you’re lucky enough to have a heated indoor pet pool close to you, your fur-baby will jump at the chance to make a splash. Swimming offers a great full-body workout for your dog and is also a low-impact form of exercise — “pawfect” for those dogs suffering from the pain of stiff joints during winter. And if the water temperature’s just right, hitting the pool can be a very inviting prospect on those freezing winter days.


Old favorites

What are some of your favorite games to play with your dog? We’re betting that old classics like tug-of-war and fetch are somewhere near the top of the list.

And the good news is that both of these good old-fashioned doggy games can be easily transferred indoors. Tug-of-war is self explanatory, but just make sure you’ve got plenty of space to work with so you don’t accidentally knock into anything valuable. 

Fetch also works the same inside as it does out, provided you’re careful with your throws and you find a safe space where your dog isn’t going to skid out of control. Got a 2-story home? You can even make it an extra-tough workout by throwing a ball or toy up the stairs for your pup to fetch. (Just be careful not to overdo this game, especially if your dog is prone to arthritis or joint problems.)


french bulldog doing yoga on a purple mat

Dog yoga

Staying active indoors doesn’t always mean going a million miles an hour. So if you’re looking for the best indoor activities for dogs in winter, introduce your pup to dog yoga. 

Yoga for dogs is a simple way for your pup to stretch out sore and tired muscles, strengthen key areas, and enjoy relaxing with you. Sound good? Maybe there’s a local instructor that offers online classes you can follow along with from home, or indoor classes you can attend in person. If not, it won’t take you long to find handy instructional videos online that can help you get started. 

Check out our guide to how to train your dog to do yoga with you for more information.


Heading outdoors? Here’s how to help your dog stay warm

While there are lots of great ways to keep your dog active indoors, sometimes there’s no substitute for braving the outdoors. Whether it’s a walk or run with you, a romp at the dog park, or even just playtime in the backyard, getting outside provides important physical and mental stimulation for your pooch. 

But before you face the elements, consider what steps you can take to help your dog stay warm on your outdoor adventures. Some tips and ideas include:

  • Invest in a doggy jacket. A nice warm coat can help your dog beat the winter chill. In especially cold parts of the country, it’s a must for many breeds, particularly those like Whippets that don’t cope well with the cold. 

  • Train your pup to wear dog booties. Walking on icy pavements and salt or grit can damage a dog’s paws. Special canine booties protect against pads and also provide extra grip on slippery surfaces. And you have to admit, they look pretty cute too.

  • Monitor your dog. Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs that the conditions are too much for them to handle. Hypothermia and frostbite are serious concerns, so never keep your dog out in freezing weather for an extended period of time. Even breeds developed to thrive in cold conditions can struggle if they’re outside for too long, so winter safety should always be front of mind.

  • Know what your dog can handle. Puppies and senior dogs can feel the effects of the cold more than their adult counterparts, as can dogs with health conditions like diabetes. With this in mind, it’s best to keep them indoors when the mercury really plummets.

  • Wipe them down. At the end of any outdoor adventure, remember to wipe down your dog’s paws, legs, and tummy to remove any chemicals or other unwanted substances (like antifreeze or salt) that may accumulate. Also make sure they’re completely dry after walking outside or playing in snow.

Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll ensure that your dog stays safe and warm this winter.

Can’t handle the cold but want your dog to burn some energy? Provided it’s safe for your dog to be out and about in these conditions, book a Wag! dog walk today. Choose a 20-, 30-, or 60-minute walk, then take advantage of GPS tracking and photo updates to keep track of your pup’s winter wonderland adventure


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