How to Exercise Your Dog When The Weather is Bad

Dog in raincoat meets autumn in Alesund, Norway
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When you're a kid, snow days are as close as you can get to winning the lottery. And it's like winning the mega-lottery when there was a big history test planned that day. But bad weather feels like less of a miracle when you're a dog owner. Suddenly, the day becomes a strategic challenge to make sure your furry best friend gets enough exercise. Luckily, we've got some ideas that can help, so when you see "100% precipitation" in the forecast you'll already have a game plan in place.

4 year old boy playing football (soccer) with his dog on snow
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Brave the storm

The first option is to play outside anyway. This is a pretty obvious choice but it's a good choice if you have an adventure-loving pup whose fur is designed to withstand the cold. Many dogs, particularly those in the herding, sporting or working group, live to play in cold weather. They'll play fetch like it's a gorgeous summer day even when it's 2 degrees outside.

Some tips to help your pup stay comfortable:

  • Try to keep your time in the inclement weather to 30-40 minutes.
  • If your dog has thinner fur and/or sensitive paws bundle them up in a doggie coat and boots.
  • Make sure to wipe the salt off their paws with they come inside.
Rainy Day Blues
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Play games

If your dog is an indoor kid, you don't need to force him to go outside. But rainy days can get dogs down just like people. If morale seems low for your pup, play some games. Hide-and-seek is a good way to get him moving and stave off boredom. There are two ways to do this. You can hide his treat or you can hide you. Begin by throwing a treat. Once he runs after it, hide in a different part of the house. Making your dog look for you can tire him out while having fun at the same time.

white terrie is played from a snackball
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The nose knows

Add a little fun to dinner time by making your dog find her bowl. Hide her meal in a box, or in a different part of the house. You can also use a Kong. Put her favorite treats in there and let her chew the rainy day blues away.

PortraFrench Bulldog puppy in yellow bandana giving high five
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Learn some tricks

If you have the time, rainy/snowy days can be a great opportunity to teach your pup some tricks. Begin with the basics if your dog hasn't learned them yet. It's best to start with skills like sit, down, and come. Once you've mastered those you can move on to more advance cues like stay, speak, roll over or high five. The AKC has some great tutorials if you need a step by step guide. Teaching your pup tricks will strengthen your bond with your dog and you'll be a hit at parties.

Little dog at home in the living room playing with his toys
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Play ball

If you have a large apartment or a house there's no reason why you can't still play ball inside. If your pup is a fetcher your exercise work is done. He'll be happy to play for hours on end until he's all tuckered. out.

Close up of two dogs having a tug of war
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Tug-of-war

If your dog has more of a "no take, only throw" philosophy when it comes to playing ball, tug-of-war might be the game for you. This game doesn't take up much space and it's great exercise. They sell tug toys, but in a pinch, you can roll up an old towel put a knot at each end, and volia! You have a rainy day solution.

Two dogs running indoors playing together
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Play dates

Play dates aren't just for kids. They're great for dogs too! Find a pal who is also trying to tire out their dog, and kill two birds with one stone. Invite a pup or two over and let the dogs wrestle and chase themselves out. A note, make sure the dogs have met before and are friends before you try this.

Manchester Terrier in agility
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Obstacle courses

Finally, if both you and your best friend are feeling a little pent-up and need to get out of the house, consider going to an indoor agility course. Places like Zoom Room will let your dog play by the hour. You can set him free to run and play and go home with a happy, tired dog, despite the bad weather.