6 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active in the Winter

golden retriever with his tongue out standing outside in the winter there is snow on the ground and he is wearing a scarf

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There are many fun moments that come with owning a dog, but going outside in the winter isn’t always one of them. Some breeds, such as thick-coated Huskies, Malamutes, and Great Pyranees, are happy to romp around in arctic temperatures, but many would rather be cozied up at home waiting for spring. 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog active this winter without anyone freezing their paws off. To learn more, The Spruce Pets spoke with the Positive Puppy Expert and dog trainer, Ali Smith, about her favorite ways to keep dogs active in the winter. 

Have the Right Gear

If your dog is struggling on winter walks, it might be that they’re missing proper weather protection. “Coats and boots are not just for people!” Smith says. “A warm coat can do wonders for dogs more sensitive to cold.”

Putting booties on an unenthused pup can challenge anyone’s patience, but snow, ice, and chemical salt wreak havoc on their paw pads. If shoes aren’t possible, try wiping your dog’s paws off when they get home then applying paw balm to soothe cracked areas. 

Small dog standing outside in winter wearing a red coat and red boots.

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Play Inside

There are manyways to engage your dog both mentally and physically indoors, depending on how much space you have. Try hiding your dog’s favorite treat or toy as a game of Hide and Seek, or break out a rope for a contained round of tug of war. Smith says Hide and Seek is her favorite because it “makes them use their muscles, their brain and their nose, making them engage and demonstrate natural hunting desires.”

In a living room with a beige couch and beige carpet. A golden retriever is playing tug of war with a young girl wearing pajamas.

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Plan a Pup-Date

As long as your dog tolerates other dogs in their space, indoor playdates are a great option for winter socialization. You’re not a regular parent; you’re a cool parent, so when it’s too cold for the dog park, invite your dog’s friends over to hang at the house. Just be sure to put away the breakables first!

Two Australian Shepards both trying to get a toy. They are in a kitchen.

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Engage Their Minds

Dogs need mental stimulation as much as they need physical stimulation. Working on a new trick together can challenge your dog in both ways, and there’s an endless number to keep you occupied through the winter. Check out these 10 fun and easy dog tricks to get started. 

A person in a t-shirt sitting on the ground of her apartment teaching a goldendoodle to do a trick.

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Keep Them Occupied

As any parent will tell you, it can be challenging to keep your child occupied all day. To stimulate independent play, put treats onto a kong, snuffle mat, or lick pad and let them go to town on it. “Sniffing and licking are very soothing activities for dogs, and as a consequence, they can help to take the energy levels down and provide the mental stimulation that your dog craves,” says Smith. 

Black and white dog sitting on a green couch with a red kong toy.

Try Doggy Day Care

Depending on your dog’s behavior (and your budget), doggy daycare can be a great option for socializing a dog during winter, or even just when your schedule gets busy. By the time you pick them up at the end of the day they’ll be too tired to go on any long winter walks. Always make sure to thoroughly vet any doggy daycare before signing your pup up.

two white dogs and one black and white dog hanging over a short green wall with their paws up.

Winter can feel long—for you and your pup. But if you use these creative ways to keep your dog active during that time, you'll both stay entertained until the sun comes out again.