How to Exercise Your Dog in Winter

October 17, 2022 3 min read
dog with toys and treats

The cold, harsh winter weather can make getting outside unpleasant and even unsafe for you and your dog. However, it’s still important to consistently exercise them so they are getting enough activity and burning off all the best treats for big dogs they’ve been eating. Here are eight ideas for exercising your dog during winter:

Suit up and get outside.

With the proper equipment, you can still take your dog outside if it’s not too cold. (Rule of thumb: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog as well.) Get them booties to protect their feet from ice crystals and a doggie coat to add some extra insulation. Keep them away from ice melting chemicals and other substances that can potentially be harmful to pets. Be especially careful with dogs who are very old or young, have very thin coats, or are otherwise more susceptible to the cold.

Play fetch or tug of war inside.

If exercising outside isn’t an option, then play fetch or tug of war inside. Fetch works best in a large room where your dog has lots of room to run around (and there isn’t a lot of furniture for them to run into). Tug of war takes up less room in the house and can be played pretty much anywhere as long as you have a sturdy rope for them to chew on.

Use puzzle toys and games.

If you want to exercise your dog and provide some mental stimulation at the same time, then try giving them a puzzle toy loaded with treats for dogs. You can also play games with your dog, such as staging a scavenger hunt or playing hide and seek together. If you want to get really fancy, you can devise an indoor obstacle course or even have your own at-home doggie Olympics.

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Take the stairs.

If you have stairs in your house or apartment, going up and down them is a great workout for both you and your dog. This works best for larger dogs with longer legs who are tall enough to navigate the stairs without falling or tripping. Be careful with outside stairs, which are prone to icing over. Indoor or covered stairs are a much safer bet.

dog training on treadmill

Teach them to walk on the treadmill.

If you already have a treadmill, you can teach your dog to walk on it at a very slow speed with practice. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be a dedicated doggie treadmill, although you will need to monitor them even more closely on a regular human treadmill for safety reasons. Always keep the treadmill at a very slow speed and stop it if your dog starts looking exhausted or gets freaked out by the movement of the treadmill.

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Drop them off at doggie daycare.

If your dog enjoys playing with others, dropping them off at a doggie daycare with an indoor play area is a fantastic option for tiring them out safely and getting some socializing time in, even if the dog park is snowed in. If your dog is more of a loner and tends not to engage with dogs, then they might benefit more from more structured activities vs. free play at a doggie daycare.

a pup with toy in mouth

Sign up for dog exercise classes.

Speaking of more structured options, a dog exercise class such as agility training or swim lessons might be the perfect wintertime alternative for your pup. These classes will teach them new skills, challenge them mentally, and also burn off their excess energy — even when playing outside isn’t feasible. Check to see if there are organizations in your area that offer dog exercise classes in the colder months.

Visit an indoor pet center.

If you like the idea of taking your dog somewhere to exercise inside, but you’re not sure if your dog would like a class, see if your community offers an indoor pet center, which is essentially a recreation center for dogs. They are more common in geographic areas with longer, harsher winters, but they are becoming more popular in the U.S. overall, so it’s definitely worth checking to see if there is one in your area, no matter where you live.

Your dog deserves to be rewarded for exercising when it’s cold and stormy outside. At Best Bully Sticks, we make premium dog treats, many of which are a single ingredient. Order some new ones to try out, or sign up for a dog treat subscription box of your favorites so you never have to worry about running out.

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