It’s wintertime…not that you’d be able to tell where I live in Southern California. The days are warm, the sun is out, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting rain (and we never get snow) for a while yet. But even though the days are beautiful, my thoughts have increasingly been turning to more traditional winter weather—cold, rain, snow, and even ice.

Preparing for winter

By this time next year, my husband, me, our dogs, a various assortment of plants, and our blue-tongue skink will be living in Western North Carolina. And let me tell you, friends, it’s cold there. Like, shockingly cold. And I’ve been wondering how to make sure the dogs get enough exercise on days when the winter weather is really making itself felt.

So, to help get mentally prepared…and to help maybe inspire those of you who live where Jack Frost is already nipping at your nose…I put together a list of 10 wintertime activities you can do with your dog. Hopefully, these activities will help us all beat the winter doldrums and stay active all year long. I’d love to hear your suggestions for winter activities too—I’m gonna need all the help I can get! Leave me a message in the comments and let me know what you and your dogs love to do to stay active in the winter!

My top wintertime activities

  1. Bundle up and go for a walk to see the holiday decorations and lights. If it’s super cold and your dog is sensitive, you may need to put a coat on them. And if it’s icy or there’s lots of snow, they may need some booties to protect their feet.
  2. If it’s snowy outside, take your dog outside to romp through the snow. Of course, if your dog hates the snow and cold, skip this one, but a lot of dogs enjoy playing in the snow. My dog Barkley is one—we’ve gone up to the mountains in past winters, and he loves to bite at the snow and race around. It puts such a big smile on my face to see him enjoying himself like that. Just remember to wipe your pet down (paying special attention to their feet, ears, and faces) when you come in so no ice gets lodged in between their toes or somewhere that might hurt them.
  3. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and recharge. I recently went through the AMAZING 30-day Soul to Bowl course, and it had so many activities that are perfect for taking a break with your dog and de-stressing together. The whole course was built by certified Life Coach and Mindful Pet Parent Nikki White to help people deepen their bond with their dogs while at the same time de-stressing and getting healthier (bonus: I’ll be doing a giveaway for one lucky pet parent to win the program for themselves!). My dogs seemed calmer, and I certainly was. So, I can definitely speak to the power of taking some quiet time and meditating (or at least relaxing) with your dog when the holiday season is in full swing.
  4. If you’re someone who loves to go and pick out a Christmas tree from a Christmas tree farm, consider calling them to find out if you can bring your pet. It will be fun for your dog to go on that adventure with you, and imagine how amazing all those pine trees will smell to them! And who knows? Maybe they’ll help you find the perfect tree to celebrate Christmas with!
  5. Find an indoor class you can take with your dog. Agility, obedience, or K9 nosework classes can all be mentally and physically stimulating for your dog, and if they’re inside, you don’t have to worry about what the weather is doing. You can still have fun with your dog even when it’s miserable outside!
  6. Play fun games with your dog inside at your own house. 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy is a great resource for a bunch of different tricks you can teach your dog. If you do this, have some species-appropriate treats handy to reward your dog. One great option is Max and Neo One Ingredient Freeze Dried Beef Liver Dog Treats.
  7. Just like us, dogs love to be social. Invite one or two of your dog’s pals over and let them have some playtime while you catch up with your fellow pet parents. It can be a great way for you to de-stress and relax while your dog burns off some excess energy.
  8. For the more adventurous of you, you can try skijoring. For this to work, you have to know how to ski, and your dog should be over 35 pounds. If you can check off those criteria, it might be fun to try. You can find out more about skijoring by clicking here.
  9. Here’s another one for those snowy days: take your dog with you and go snowshoeing! Snowshoes are pretty cheap to rent (or you could buy your own), and they make walking in snow much more pleasant. It can be a really fun way to go hiking with your dog even in the cold. Remember to monitor the weather and provide your dog with any necessary protection (jacket, booties, etc.) to keep them safe and warm.
  10. Even if it’s cold and wintery outside, you can still play fetch with your dog. If there’s snow on the ground, it’s a good idea to use a brightly colored ball or Frisbee; it’ll be easier to find that way.

You know, after putting this list together, I’m feeling pretty excited about all the fun we can have with the dogs, even if it’s cold or snowy out. I think the first thing I want to try is snowshoeing with them!

So what about you? What’s your favorite winter activity with your dog? Let me know in the comments below! Happy winter, everybody!