Your dogs need as much protection from the elements as you do. Here’s how to keep your dogs warm in winter and entertained with fun activities you can do both indoors and out.
How to Entertain Your Dogs in Winter and Keep Them Warm
Step 1. Keep Your Dogs Warm
Winter temperatures can be just as hazardous to dogs as hot temperatures are, especially if they’re not used to the cooler climate. Here are some things you can do to keep your pooches as warm as they could be.
1. Know the Signs Your Dog Is Too Cold
Here are some signs that can tell you your dog isn’t handling the cold weather very well:
- Refuses to move
- Not going outside the dog house
- Lying in a curled position
- Shivering and chattering teeth
2. Bring Them Inside When It’s Extremely Cold
During extreme cold temperatures, bring your dogs inside and keep them warm until the temperature rises again. How much your dog tolerates the cold depends on these factors:
- Age: Older dogs tend to have less tolerance to the cold than younger dogs.
- Breed: Dogs from the northern part of the world tolerate cold temperatures better because they have thicker undercoats.
- Health status
- Wind and humidity in the environment
A healthy dog takes between a week to two months to get used to temperature extremes in either direction.
3. Ease Your Dog Into Wearing Boots
First, make sure your dog is comfortable with you touching their paws. Once you’ve trained them to tolerate foot touching, introduce them to wearing boots.
- Put on one boot, give them a treat, then take it off. Do this until they’re used to having that boot on.
- Ask them to walk around with the boot on. Give them another treat after.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 until they can comfortably walk around with all four boots on.
Wearing boots when walking around winter weather prevents them from walking on snow-melting chemicals that can burn their paws. It also prevents the chances of them getting frostbite.
4. Knit a Sweater or Winter Coat
Short-haired dogs like chihuahuas can benefit from wearing a warm sweater during cold weather. Knitting them a coat adds a personal touch and makes sure it’s the right size for your dog.
Don’t put a sweater on dogs with thick undercoats. This can cause them to overheat.
5. Make the Dog House Winter-Friendly
If your dog needs to go outside often, make him a winter-friendly dog house:
- Raise the platform a few inches off the ground.
- Build door flaps to keep wind away.
- Place a bedding of straw or hay which your dog can curl up into for warmth.
6. Convert a Barrel Into a Dog Shelter
Have a wine barrel lying around outside? Lay it on its side, shove some wool blankets inside, and place the barrel somewhere safe away from water.
You now have an instant dog shelter your dogs can call home in the winter.
7. Hydrate With Warm Water
Heat up some water using a kettle or use a special heated bowl and make sure your dog stays hydrated. Stick with your dog’s usual diet unless you get the green light from the vet to give them more or different food.
Step 2. Pass the Time With Some Indoor Activities
When winter’s particularly harsh and it isn’t safe for your dogs to stretch their legs outside, don’t lose hope. Here are some activities you can do indoors that you and your dogs can enjoy.
1. Playing Fetch
You don’t need a backyard to play fetch with your dog. A cozy large room or long hallway can do the job just as well.
Just make sure you remove all those precious heirlooms you don’t want to be broken.
2. Stair Climbing
If your house has a second floor, have your dog follow you up and down the stairs a few times to warm up both of your muscles. If you aren’t too keen on exercising yourself, just throw your dog their favorite ball up the stairs for them to retrieve it.
3. Blowing Bubbles
A small inexpensive bubble blower is all you need, along with a safe bubble solution you can whip up yourself or get from your local toy shop. Dogs love to chase bubbles.
4. Playing Hide and Seek
Throw your dog a treat away from you as a distraction, then hide somewhere and let them try to find you. This can be a fun activity you and your dogs can do to pass the time during winter.
5. Indoor Obstacle Course
Set up a mini obstacle course within the confines of your home using everyday common objects like boxes, chairs, tables, and blankets.
6. Taking a Dog Class
Look around the neighborhood for indoor pet painting classes or even pet swimming pools. It will give you and your dog a chance for a little bonding time.
7. Rolling out the Treat-Bearing Toys
Make mealtimes fun and get one of these treat-dispensing toys. Put some kibble or treats inside and watch your dogs dig in for some buried treasure.
8. Dancing to Music
Staying indoors means a good time to boogie. Turn up the music and dance like nobody’s watching to get your heart pumping.
Nothing beats a good ol’ snuggle with your furry friend. Curl up with a blanket and a good book or movie and settle yourselves in front of the warm fire.
Step 3. Step Outside When It Gets Warmer Out
When the chill has warmed up a bit, you can then step outside for some fresh air. Here are some dog activities that are perfect in wintertime.
1. Take Your Dog for a Hike
Who says you can only walk your dog during warm days? Take their mind off the cold by planning new routes to keep your dog’s mind off the cold weather.
Take a short drive so you can have a walk in a different part of town they haven’t seen before. You’d be surprised how different smells and sights can keep a dog interested in walking endlessly.
2. Try Skijoring
Want to try a new activity during wintertime? Try skijoring around the neighborhood.
What is skijoring? It’s a winter sport where a dog pulls on a person on skis.
This may look difficult at first, but dogs are complete naturals at pulling people and objects. Just make sure your dog listens to commands for turning and stopping first.
3. Practice Nose Work
If you have a smaller dog, practice his sniffing skills with some nose work. Train your dog inside to find a particular scent and see if they can trace that while they’re outside.
The wind and snow can alter your dog’s sense of smell and give them a bit of a challenge.
4. Throw Snowballs
Lightly pack some snow into a ball (not too much!) and throw them to your dog. Throw some smaller balls into the air for them to catch, for good measure.
5. Learn New Tricks
Teach your dog to roll over on the snow, or other commands like sitting and barking in command. Don’t forget to be generous on the treats.
Learn how to keep your dogs warm in the winter from Top Dog Tips:
Cold winters need not be spent hibernating indoors all day. With all these winter entertainment ideas for dogs, they (and you!) can stay fit and healthy all year round.
How do you and your dogs pass the time in the winter cold? Share your tips in the comments section below.