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Winter days are definitely here, and for us humans, there’s no better activity during blizzards than curling up in front of the fire with steaming hot chocolate…or hot buttered rum for grown-ups! 😉
Keeping a dog entertained and mentally stimulated during the cold winter months can be a challenge, especially if you’re cooped up inside due to freezing temperatures.
However, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog entertained and happy even when the weather is too cold to go outside. Read below for top ways to keep your dog busy during snow days and have fun things to do when outside time is limited!
Spend Time Indoors Working Your Dog’s Brain
Mental stimulation is fantastic for preventing bored dogs, so dog puzzle toys are perfect activities for snowy days. Start out with one appropriate for your dog’s skill level and interests.
Eventually you can move up to more complicated puzzles as long as your pup enjoys them and stays interested. Roxy is not a huge fan of having to use her brain, but Rico absolutely LOVES them and the mental exercise is great. Here’s one of his favorites, and you can see even more here in our list of best dog puzzles!
Provide Slow-Dispensing Treats on Snow Days
Having your dogs work for their food can help drain their energy and keep them calm on stormy afternoons. Snuffle mats work well for meals, or you can stuff a KONG with some of their favorite treats and give them something to work at.
You can even freeze it after filling it to stretch out their treat time! Some great fillers are peanut butter, cheese, ground meat, and canned pumpkin.
KONG even makes their own Easy Treat filling and KONG Snacks to go inside the KONG. They make it nice and easy to fill quickly. Get creative with these fun KONG filling ideas and see what your pup likes best!
Get the Zoomies Out
Our furry friends still need physical activity even when the weather isn’t cooperating. Roxy & Rico’s absolute favorite thing to do is chase each other and us as we run up and down the hallway. They’ll run and chase all day if we let them!
Pro tip: try to use a long hallway, and make sure you clear any breakables away first!
Manage Potty Breaks on Snow Days
It can be a mess trekking through the wind and snow for a potty break or a bit of physical exercise, but one way to make it easier is to watch the weather for breaks during the storm.
If the forecast is expected to get much worse past 9pm, for example, take them to potty at 8:30pm. That way you can try and miss the worst weather. It’s not an exact science, but it helps! You may need to shovel a small patch if the snow is deeper than your dog’s height. Luckily for us, the most we’ve ever had was 19 inches
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Dress Your Dog For the Winter Snow Day
If it’s very cold, or you dog’s coat is thin and they’re not used to cold weather, dress your dog for the weather conditions. A warm jacket is a great way to keep them cozy during walks and play sessions, even if your dogs aren’t exactly snow dogs.
Rico goes absolutely crazy for snow, while Roxy tolerates it. Putting jackets on them when they’re going to be out for more than 5 minutes, or the temperature is well below zero, keeps them both comfortable so they can enjoy their outside time.
We use this shearling fleece jacket and it works well for our powdery snow, unless Roxy decides to take it off Rico! If you live somewhere that gets wet, heavy snow, this water-resistant jacket may be a better option.
If your area uses salt to manage ice, consider dog booties. Salt can be very drying and damaging to the pads on your dog’s feet. Some dogs take to them easily, while others have quite the adjustment period.
Luckily, they used dirt when we lived in Alaska, because moose can be attracted to the taste of salty roads. That can cause them to get hit by vehicles, so dirt seems to work well.
A lubricating paw balm can also help protect your dog’s pads and their nose, which can get dry and cracked during the cold weather. We like Musher’s Secret because it’s all natural, protects well, and is non-staining. I apply some right before letting them out to potty to give them a bit of protection from the ice.
How To Deal With Lots of Snow
Now that we’re in the mountains of Colorado, we get so much snow! So far, our biggest snowfall was over 19 inches in the middle of May. There was so much piled up that I had to shovel off a path into the back yard!
If you get a ton of snow, shoveling off a path and a small potty area helps make it easier for your dog to get around. Or, if you have tall crazies like Roxy and Rico, they’ll hop around over the snow and make their own path!
Finally…GET OUT THERE!
Once the howling winds stop, bundle up the family and go play and burn off that pent-up energy! Have a snowball fight, make dog snow angels, and have fun! Then when it’s time to warm up, snuggle up with these dog-approved blankets!