At Pawtivity.com, our members love to go on adventures with our dogs. Here is our list of the top 15, best things to do with your dog this fall and winter, indoors and outdoors.
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THE BEST OF FALL
We love the change of the seasons. It’s nature’s way of keeping things interesting! The colors of fall make for a gorgeous time to love nature again and take some really impressive photos of your dog! Take a break from the normal grind of daily routines and recharge by breathing in the crisp, fresh air of the new season. There are so many fall outdoor activities that you can do with your dog!
Doggy Run – October is Adopt A Dog Month and the perfect time to sign up for your first 5k to support your local rescue groups and shelters. There our so many dogs out there that need a loving home. Make a day out of the event! Dress up with your dog in costume. If you can’t run, just walk! You will still be supporting a good cause. Have fun!
Hiking – Enjoy the new change of the season by taking your dog out sniffing and exploring a new hiking trail. The best trails will be the ones that offer the best views of fall foliage. Plan a road trip to a destination hike. Please let your dog stick his head out the window to bite that wind!
Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze It’s the season for a great pumpkin search! There are several dog friendly pumpkin patches. Pick out the best pumpkin to carve at home and enjoy some caramel apples, cider, and pumpkin pie. Have a dog that’s good with his nose? Take him with you to a corn maze! Have fun getting lost together and exploring your way out of the maze! End the day by watching the classic, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” a 1966 television original movie based on Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip and featuring Snoopy and the gang.
Wilderness Camping – The summer heat is finally over! It’s time to spend the entire day outdoors with family and friends. Book a campsite early. There’s so much to do, but whatever you do, involve your dog in all the action! End the day by making him a campfire s’more with dog biscuits and marshmallow. Substitute peanut butter in place of chocolate to make your treat even tastier! Snuggle in for the night and wake up to watch the sunrise together.
EASY SNOW PLAY
These activities were meant to be done in your backyard on the perfect snow day! Dogs love to be in the snow.
Play “Go Find It” – Have your dog sniff a toy with a treat inside. Next, ask your dog to sit while you go outside and hide the toy or bury the toy loosely outside. Bring your dog outside and tell him to find his toy! “Go Find it!”
Snowball Catch – Does your dog love the snow and playing fetch? Why not play fetch with a snowball? Or, roll a great big snowball and have your dog chase it down the hill.
Obstacle Course / Maze – This works best if there is more than a foot of snow on the ground. Take a shovel and make a maze in the snow. Add some obstacles along the way. You could build a wall for your dog to jump over, a short tunnel to crawl through, and a ramp at the end your dog must climb up to get his final treat!
INDOOR BRAIN GAMES
When the weather turns for the worse, it’s time to stay indoors. Get some great one-on-one bonding time with your dog and reinforce those skills toward making your next adventure even better. If you have an active dog, you’ll need to find activities that expend both physical and mental energy to keep your dog from going from good dog to destructive demon. Take the time to hone in on some dog obedience and training!
Puzzle Toy – Every dog owner needs at least one puzzle toy, especially since not all of us can be there to entertain our dogs 24-7. One of the best puzzles toys you can get is some crazy, wobbly treat dispensing toy trap. Dogs go nuts for this type of toy because it gives them a challenge and reward at the end. Other puzzle toys, like those created by Nina Ottosson, require that dogs figure out the right moves for a treat. Both types of puzzle toys are a great option to have for indoor play.
Play “Go Find It” – Have your dog sniff a treat. Next, ask your dog to sit while you go into the next room to hide his treat. If your dog is just starting out make it easy – put the treat on the floor by the wall. Call your dog to you and ask him to “Go Find It!” Challenge things up more by adding more treats to find or hiding the treat in harder to find places, such as on a table your dog can get to. An alternative to this game is to hide the treat in one of 3 boxes. Have your dog sniff out the right box and give him an extra treat!
Attend A Class – Now might be the best time to hone in on those obedience skills. The holidays can cause a lot of stress for our dogs. Being cooped up indoors doesn’t help. Many classes are offered indoors, such as agility, swimming, and obedience training. There are even classes and trainers that will help your dog be a better adventure dog. They will teach your dog to be better off-leash, to search and rescue, to “potty”, to walk faster, to stay quiet, or to bark and attack all on command.
Fun Dog Training – If you don’t do it now, you should make it a habit to reinforce basic training into your dog’s daily routines, such as before you feed or walk your dog. We recommend puppy situps (sit, down, sit, come/touch). You can also introduce gestures for basic commands so you don’t have to say a word for your dog to “sit” or “stay.” Or, practice impulse control exercises and see if how still your dog can be as you place objects on his head. Hold a treat above your dog’s head. Every time your dog reaches for it pull the treat back up quickly and lower slowly only when your dog sits again. Lower the treat until you can place the treat on your dog’s nose. Now, give him an “ok” command and let him eat his well-earned treat! What funny things can your dog hold on his nose? Brush off more of those puppy class techniques and get creative! You can make a game out of anything.
Don’t stay indoors! Get out and keep active by trying these three outdoor winter activities for dogs that will get your heart pumping and your dog thoroughly happy. As with any winter sport, you need to build up your dog’s stamina and endurance, so start slow. Go on trails you are familiar with or go with someone who is.
Proper gear is required for these activities. While you may already know how to ski, your dog doesn’t have a clue what skis are or how they work. Let your dog inspect your gear and reward him if he takes an interest, but not if he thinks it’s his new toy! Hold up the equipment and move it around. Again, reward only if our dog takes an interest. Finally, put on your gear and try it out for your dog outside.
Snowshoeing – Do you already love hiking or running? Then you’ll probably love snowshoeing, and the best part is that you continue to hike or run without worrying about the snow. Snowshoes are easy to get used to and don’t require you to change much in what you do already. Your dog can just go along happily with you as he’s always done. The low learning curve and ease of snowshoeing has made it one of the fastest growing winter activities.
Cross Country Skiing – This winter sport is best done if your dog is reliable off-leash. Great pre-training for this activity include snowshoeing, hiking, or running off leash. It’s important that your dog stays with your, has reliable recall, and does not cross your path.
Skijoring – Skijoring is a sport that’s reserved for stronger dogs over 30 pounds who can pull you forward on a special hands free leash tied around your waist while you are on cross country skis. Poles are used to help guide and move you along with your dog. To pre-train for skijoring, try canicross or bikejoring in the fall. Remember your dog will be pulling you forward, so have good command of your dog at all times and train him properly to follow a straight line, or at least to stick to the pathway! That means no squirrel chasing. You’ll also have to teach him to stop and go.
Kicksledding / Sleigh Ride – This is another sport that is reserved for stronger dogs who can pull, but one that can also involve your kids! What in the world is a kicksled anyway? Think urban dog sled racing on snow. Dogs pull along a sled that a person can stand on. While the dog pulls, the person kicks back at the ground to give the sled momentum to move forward. Hang on for a ride! Don’t have a kicksled? Have your dog pull you on a sleigh or sled instead. Mush!
Winter snow is fun to play in, but conditions could damage your dog’s paws. First off, make sure your dog is comfortable playing, walking, or running in snow. Some snow is just too deep for some dogs, especially if you are dealing with freshly fallen, loose snow that will tire a dog out too fast.
Always check your dog’s paws periodically when they our outside and go indoors if your dog’s paws start to crack or bleed. Remove any ice balls or snow trapped in the paw. You should use some paw protection such as petroleum jelly, Musher’s Secret paw wax, or booties. When you come indoors, wash and inspect your dog’s paws again.
Your dog needs proper winter attire that will keep him dry and warm. Get him a doggy coat so the two of you can play longer outdoors. The right coat depends on your dog’s sensitivity to the cold and activity level. Some coats will allow for more movement, while others do well to keep dogs warm on a walk. We recommend finding a waterproof winter coat with fleece lining that at least protects your dog’s chest and abdomen. A D-ring on the back is also helpful if you are using a harness on your dog. In addition to a coat, bring along a portable water bowl, food, a quick drying towel, and perhaps a waterproof mat so your dog can rest on the snow comfortably.
Most important of all is to hydrate with fresh water. To prevent water from freezing, use a wide-mouth steel water bottle or thermos and fill it up with warm water, but leave a little room at the top in case some of your water does start to freeze and expand.
Last but not least, don’t leave the human and dog first aid kit at home!
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