Snowy months are upon us, Chicago, and that means spending less time outside and more time inside, away from slushy streets, icy sidewalks, and unfortunately for our pets, the dog park. But even though going to the park isn’t as fun when its frigid outside, there are still some fun winter activities that you can do with your dog to keep him or her entertained and happy. It’s important to still make sure your dog gets enough exercise even if they aren’t going outside as much or for as long of walks, so be sure not to spend the cold months cuddled up under blankets—at least not all the time.
Skijoring is best for big dogs. It’s a growing sport in which a dog equipped with a harness pulls a cross-country skier along trails. It’s a great way to tire out your large dog while still having fun (and getting a bit of exercise) yourself.
Though not outdoors, agility classes are a great option for something to do during winter with your dog. You’ll work with your pet as a team, and together you can teach your pooch to channel his or her energy into running through a timed course. This is great for keeping your dog mentally stimulated even though it’s cold outside.
Play in the Snow
Grab a brightly colored tennis ball or some snowballs and the kids, and head out to the yard. Plenty of dogs love playing in the snow, since they don’t get to see it that often. Make sure your dog’s paws are protected and that he or she is warm enough, though—even if that means you have to make your dog wear a sweater or coat.
Many nursing homes or hospitals love having pet visitors to brighten the mood. If your dog is very friendly and gets along with other people well, consider calling around to local facilities and finding out if they allow such a thing. Just imagine the joy that your pooch brings to you—wouldn’t you love giving that experience to someone else?
Of course, sledding is always fun for the whole family—and this time, that can include the dog. Protect your pup’s feet with paw covers of some kind—boots or rubber mittens are great—and make sure your dog is protected from the cold, as well. You may think having a dog wear a coat is silly, but they’ll be a lot warmer if the coat is shielding their (fur) coat from getting soaked with snow.
As always, make sure to wipe off your dog’s paws with warm water when you come in from the cold—salt on sidewalks can dry out their paw pads and make the skin crack.