Maine winters can be harsh, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid doing outside activities with our canine companions. The cold and snow can actually be quite fun for our dogs and provide them with a whole new world of senses to explore. So whether you and your dog are the hardcore adventuring type or more into simple backyard games, we’ve got some winter activities that will make you feel delightful when the weather is frightful. Try some out and let us know how they go for you and your furry friend!
1. Take Winter Walks
Walking with your dog every day is good for both their physical and mental health. Dogs explore the world mainly through their sense of smell, and so allowing them to get outside when it’s cold and snowy will provide a whole new buffet of scents for them to sniff. Many dogs enjoy digging through the snow to unearth trapped scents, and nosing all that fluffy white stuff can be just plain fun for your pup. Even if your dog isn’t crazy about the cold, a few minutes outside will do them some good and awake their senses to the joy of winter!
2. Make a Snow Maze
Shoveling snow after a storm doesn’t exactly scream ‘fun.’ If you have an adventurous dog, however, it can turn into an exciting activity for the two of you to do together! Try shoveling some deep pathways through the snow in your yard or driveway starting at your front door. Make the paths somewhat of a maze where the lines intersect or end randomly, and have it finish back at your house or back door. Then, line the maze with some tasty treats and see if your dog can sniff their way out! You two will have a blast running through the maze and your dog will enjoy the reward of cookies along the way.
3. Have a Snowy Scavenger Hunt
Snow is a great tool for hiding objects, and it just so happens that most dogs love to find things! For a fun and simple game to play with your pup, try hiding some of their favorite treats and toys in the snow around your yard and then put their tracking skills to the test. If they already know a cue like “find it” or “bring me your ball,” you can let your dog loose and have their nose do the work. For some extra help, however, you can leash your dog and walk them around the yard where you’ve hidden the objects and see if they can dig them out. Either way, your dog will get some great mental exercise and the reward of finding their favorite things will keep them wanting more!
4. Fetch Some Snowballs
Having your dog fetch snowballs is exactly the same as having them fetch regular balls… except snowballs will melt in their mouth! To combat this, pack a bunch of snowballs ahead of time and then continue to throw for your dog as they attempt to pick-up or catch the snow, See how many they can catch in a row or have them sit beforehand to practice basic obedience. For added fun, stuff a few snowballs with smelly treats and see if your dog can sniff them out once they’ve hit the ground. That way, whether your dog catches or misses the snowball, they’ll get a tasty reward for their efforts!
5. Try Skijoring
Ever heard of the winter sport of skijoring? It’s basically like dog sledding, but with skis! If you have an active and athletic pup, it could be the sport for you. A skier is attached to their dog with a skijoring belt or lead, and their dog wears a specific harness designed for the sport. As the dog runs and pulls their person, the skier pushes themself along with ski poles. It’s a simple but fun sport that’s great exercise for both human and canine! And while there are some who compete in professional competitions, skijoring can be as laborious or relaxing as you’d like it to be. Try simply skijoring along some trails in the woods or through open fields in your area. You might just find that you and your dog love it! Just make sure you research the proper way to harness your pup and buy the right equipment to make it safe and fun for all.
6. Set Up a Snowy Playdate
The simple act of playing in the snow is enough for some pups to really enjoy winter. If you have a dog who likes to wrestle and romp with other pups, set up a playdate with a few of your friends or family members who can bring along their dogs. You can try any of the activities on this list with all the pups, or you can simply let them loose to frolic and play. Perhaps take your dog to the dog park or organize a community, group walk. Dogs are social animals after all and many love the excitement of doing things together, even in the snow!
Winter has so many fun and festive activities for you and your dog to enjoy together, and we hope this list inspires you to bundle up, grab a shovel or a pair of skis, and get outside to enjoy them!