Between the polar vortex, lake effect, and winter season upon us, people are preparing for a snowy few months ahead. As you prepare your wardrobe, your activities, and your kids for fun in winter wonderland, keep in mind that furry family members also need to have fun in the winter snow.
Most canines can’t resist a good romp in the snow, from rolling around in fresh powder to playful snowball fights with kids. Dogs not only love the snow, but they can also withstand the harsh winter temperatures longer than their human parents. This means they can continue to get their required exercise throughout the season.
Keeping winter activities fresh and varied is the key to having fun with your pets in the snow. Get creative! Here are some ideas for fun activities with your pets this winter.
Fun Ways to Play in the Snow With Your Dogs
Bury a stick or a healthy dog treat, then sit back and watch your dog’s natural tracking instincts take hold. For dogs that need a bit of help finding their reward, try hiding the toy closer to your dog at first. As your dog gets better at the game, bury it further and further away.
Hide & Seek
This game is ideal for two or more people to play with their dog. Have one person hold your pup while another hides, then let the dog come find you. This game is ideal for well-trained dogs and is best played in familiar territory where the dog feels comfortable.
If your dog is used to running distances, take them cross-country skiing. If the snow is not too deep, have your dog join you for a snowshoe walk. Just make sure to leash your dog if you are on a trail or park with leash bylaws. Sledding can also be fun for large dog breeds and working dog breeds that tend to enjoy pulling.
Snow Angels and Snowball Fights
Making snow angels, having snowball fights, and jumping in snow piles are timeless pastimes enjoyed by adults, children, and even your dogs. These easy activities are perfect for quick jaunts outside with kids, or on cozy afternoons when you want to watch from the warm indoors.
Safety Tips for Playing in the Snow With Your Dogs
Know how well your dog’s specific breed copes with snow and cold weather.
Each dog breed copes with snow in different ways. Large breeds handle the cold temperatures and harsh weather much better than small breeds and working dog breeds can handle the snow for the longest duration of time. Most dogs’ coats are thick enough to keep them warm in winter. If you have a shorthaired dog, or smaller dog used to being indoors, buy a sweater or jacket or limit their time outside.
Manage your dog’s playtime wisely.
Your four-legged family members are just like children so you will need to be the parent when it comes to their outdoor snow play. Like children, your dog may not know how to judge when it’s time to come in from the cold. This is especially important for older dogs and dogs with arthritis. You may be snug as a bug in your winter gear, but remember that damp air and cold now can be painful for a dog with arthritis.
Prevent ice and ice balls from forming on dog’s fur.
There are several techniques to get rid of ice that matted into fur, but preventing ice from forming in the first place is the best strategy. Before your dogs venture out into the snow, apply petroleum jelly between their toes and on the pads of their feet. Make sure to trim excess fur on medium and longhaired dogs regularly over the winter. During their time outdoors, brush snow off their fur often to prevent ice balls from forming.
These fun activities are a surefire way for the entire family to enjoy the blankets of snow outside. So while you are planning for the snowfall, remember to make time for your pets to have fun and play safe outdoors. This will help keep your pets happy and healthy during the winter season. Want more tips for the cold season? Take a look at more cold weather tips for pets.