Winter is here, and in most areas of the country — that means snow! If you and your dog are ready to play in the winter weather, here are some fun games to play together either in the snow or in another open area. Many dogs love the snow, and these fun games provide ways to add enrichment to your next snow day!
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1. Play snow fetch
If you have a dog who loves to play fetch, you can also play it using the snow. For dogs who tend to get bored with traditional fetching games, the added challenge of being in the snow can keep them engaged for a longer amount of time. It can be fun for your dog to find the ball when it sinks into the snow. Keep in mind that in addition to the cold, running in the snow can be more strenuous for dogs — so keep your fetch sessions short.
2. Go hiking
Consider going on a hike, or an urban hike (a neighborhood walk) in the snow! The snow can make your regular hiking/walking spots look different to your dogs, and provide them with new and unique smells. Spend some extra time letting your dog take the lead on your walks and let them sniff and explore in the snow.
3. Play snow frisbee
Playing in the snow can be extra fun for dogs who enjoy running and jumping in pursuit of their frisbees. Some dogs seem to especially enjoy the experience of jumping to catch their disc and then landing in the snow. Just like with fetch, it's important to remember that running in the snow can tire dogs out more quickly, so you'll want to cut your disc sessions shorter than you normally would in warmer weather conditions.
4. Build a snow obstacle course
Depending on how much snow you get, a fun activity can be to build a snow obstacle course. Just like you would build a snowman, use your hands to compact and shape the snow into different obstacles. Get creative with your snow building and use it to create obstacles for your dog to jump onto and walk across. Just be sure not to make obstacles too high, in case your dog slips, or gets nervous and jumps off. You can also build small hurdles and jumps with the snow. Try building several obstacles in a row, and then get some toys or treats — and encourage your dog to give the snow course a go!
5. Create scent work (hiding treats in the snow)
This activity is especially good for dogs who might be a little reluctant to get their feet cold and can inspire an eventual interest in playing in the snow. For this game, you'll need some of your dog's favorite treats, and the smellier the better. Start by getting your dog's attention with a treat and then drop it lightly and bury it into the snow. Encourage your dog to search for the treat and when they find it, give lots of praise and let your dog eat the treat. The more you play the game, the more difficult you can eventually make the searches for your dog. You can bury the treats deeper in the snow, hide multiple treats, and hide them in different parts of your yard.
6. Play snowball catch
An easy game to play with your dog in the snow is to play snowball catch! This game can be very popular, especially for dogs who enjoy playing in the snow. Start by making some snowballs, then show your dog the snowballs, and then toss them for your dog to catch them. Don't throw the snowballs directly at your dog, rather, throw them near your dog so your dog can chase and catch them. Also, make sure that the snowballs you make aren't icy and hard, which could be scary or painful for your dog.
7. Build a snow labyrinth
If you have a lot of snow, you can build a snow maze for your dog to find their way through. With this activity, use the snow to create a path through the snow for your dog to follow. To build a path, you can walk through the snow yourself or use a shovel. Put treats at the end of the maze for your dog to find. When you introduce your dog to the maze, you can put some treats at different points in the maze to encourage your dog to stay on the path and not jump out of the labyrinth. Cheer your dog on as they go through the maze, and give lots of praise when your dog finds the end of the path!
8. Have snow races
Ready, set, race! A fun way to get you and your dog moving in the snow is to race each other! This game can be played off a leash, in a fenced yard, or in another safely enclosed space. Get your dog bouncy and excited with your voice or use treats and toys to get your dog's attention. When you have your dog's attention, you can start running! Keep encouraging your dog, to make sure they stay with you — and see who can run faster in the snow!
Playing in the snow is a fun way to spend quality time outside with your dog this winter. If your dog hasn't played in the snow before, be slow and intentional when introducing it to them. This will help your dog to have more fun, and build positive associations with the winter weather. Be sure that your dog is going to be warm enough before heading out. Sweaters and coats can help keep your dog warm and dry while they are out playing. You'll also want to pay special attention to protecting your dog's feet from any sharp ice and chemical deicers, these can be painful for dogs to step on. Watch out for any signs that your dog is getting cold, or that their feet might be sore. If your dog seems tired, it's a good idea to head back inside to warm up.