Well, we finally got some snow! Our southeast Michigan pet owners got dumped on this week as the first polar vortex of 2019 converged on the Midwest, throwing down a solid half-foot of light powdery snow. Temperatures went well below zero for our early morning dog walkers at the start of the week. Nonetheless, we have seen many dogs react rather differently to the cold. On a personal note, I watched my dog bound away gleefully into his sunny, snowy kingdom without any concern for my warmth.
Speaking of dogs, our team at Wags to Wiskers has put together some activities and tips to help you and your fur family get the most out of your winter! It may not be all fun and games for you, but if you armor up with several layers we think you and your pup can enjoy winter together!
Fun Winter Activities for Dogs
Before we get started, take a moment to make sure you prep your pet for winter activities! Maybe they’d like booties to prevent nasty, stinging cuts and salts in their paw pads, or maybe they could use a winter sweater (ours are 25% off until February!) to keep warm. Whatever it is, if you have questions, feel free to visit your local Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies shop in Ann Arbor (2425 W. Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI, 48103) or Chelsea (1192 S. Main St, Chelsea, MI, 48118) and feel free to bring your furry friend in for a fitting!
Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t play fetch…it just means it could be a little more difficult to find a tennis ball! Luckily, you’ve got an unlimited amount of alternate solutions to a tennis ball in the form of snowballs. The best part is you don’t have to hunt it down yourself if your furiend doesn’t bring it back! You can also easily practice basic catching with snowballs as it will be easier for them to grab and you can easily adjust the size and hardness of your snowball! Plus, it’s fun - you guys will have a ball 😉
Practice your dog’s nosework with a winter scavenger hunt. This activity challenges your dog to use his or her nose to locate a certain scent. You can start by trying a few times indoors, but wintry weather is the perfect opportunity to get your dog to step up their game, as wind and snow can affect scent flow and make the activity more challenging. Snow is the perfect hiding place for almost anything – treats, toys, tennis balls. Hide these items all over your yard and see what motivates your dog. They’ll get plenty of exercise running around, eating treats and playing with toys, and on top of it all it will provide great physical and mental stimulation for dogs who love to sniff.
Cross-Country Skiing & Skijoring
If you have a super active dog and you are capable of skiing, this might be the perfect combination for you. Your dog would probably love the chance to be off-leash in some wild hills with you skiing alongside them, for once able to keep up with them! Or you can tether a long line to your dog’s harness and let them pull you, an activity called skijoring. Many dogs find pulling to be a natural instinct (if you’ve ever leash-trained a 1-year old pup, you know what we’re talking about). On top of all of this, it’s a great workout for both of you and the heat you’ll generate will have you peeling off layers of snow clothing in no time!
An alternative to skijoring if you’re not comfortable on skis, this is just a walk or a hike in the snow. Snowshoes will make trudging through the snow much less difficult for humans and if you love being outside in the snow, there’s no reason why your pup can’t come with you. A winter adventure is a great way to spend time with your best friend and it’s a bonding experience that will get you both in shape. Just make sure you bring plenty of water for both of you as you’ll undoubtedly work up a sweat despite the cold. Make sure to protect your dogs feet as well!
Last but certainly not least, this is a fun activity for the whole family. There’s no way to predict how your dog will react…will they want to be on the sled? Will they tackle the sledder? Will they run all the way up and down the hill dozens of times? If you’ve never taken your dog sledding, it’s worth a shot. There are a number of popular hills in the Ann Arbor (Huron Hills Golf Course, Vets Park) and Chelsea (The Bow, Keezer’s Hill) areas that the whole family could enjoy.
That’s all we’ve got for today. Hope to hear more stories of you and your fur family adventuring with these winter activities for dogs! Might as well enjoy it while it lasts.