Winter is officially here! The temperature has dropped. It’s dark in the late afternoon. And snowfall is part of the landscape.
There’s no reason to keep your new puppy cooped up at home for the next three months just because it’s cold and snowy outside. Winter can be an exciting time for your puppy!
Here are the best wintertime activities for your puppy to enjoy. Playtime outside can be fun, and we’ve included a list of safety tips to help you ensure that bonding with your furry friend won’t result in injury.
MAKE AN OUTDOOR OBSTACLE COURSE
Who doesn’t love a good obstacle course? The funnest part about a wintertime obstacle course for your puppy is all the snow! You can get creative and build snowmen, igloos, and even a snow labyrinth for your puppy to navigate.
When it comes to making a fun outdoor obstacle course for your new puppy, you’ll want to make sure that the surfaces of the obstacle course aren’t icy or slippery. You might already have an obstacle course ramp for your dog, but if it’s been sitting outside all winter, it might have accumulated a layer of ice that needs to be broken off.
Structure your obstacle course in such a way that you can run beside your puppy to guide him through the course. This will be great exercise for both of you and help to tire him out before you head back inside for hot cocoa and snuggles on the couch!
PLAY HIDE AND SEEK OUTSIDE
For puppies, hide and seek is actually a complex game to master. This is great news for puppy parents of highly intelligent breeds. Any brain teaser that mentally stimulates your puppy will be wonderful for his overall development and happiness. And hide and seek fits the bill!
First, make sure the outdoor play area has objects that you can hide behind. If it doesn’t, then try building huge snowmen and other snow structures to hide behind. To play the game, tell your puppy to “stay.” If you’re still in the process of training your puppy to learn basic commands, having a treat on hand to incentivize his obedience will come in handy.
Once he knows to “stay,” you can walk to the nearest hiding spot, but don’t hide completely. Make sure that your puppy can still see you. Then call his name and tell him to “come.” When he “finds you,” reward him with pats and praise, or maybe a treat!
As you continue to play the game, you can hide farther away and really tuck yourself out of view to make the game of “seeking” you more challenging for your puppy. The best part about hide and seek is that you can also play this game indoors if it’s especially cold outside this winter.
PLAY OUTDOOR FETCH
A game of fetch provides heart-pounding exercise that your puppy will love. When playing fetch outside during the snowy winter, there are a number of safety tips to keep in mind.
Make sure that the area you want to play in isn’t icy. The terrain should be reliable, even if it’s covered in snow. Avoid any places that have holes where your puppy could hurt his leg. And try to avoid any areas where the snow is too deep.
Use a brightly colored ball, frisbee, or toy to throw. A brightly colored object will be easy for your puppy to chase after and retrieve, because it’s easy to find in the white snow. It’ll be easy for you to keep an eye on it, too!
For some added mental stimulation, teach your puppy the names of different toy items to fetch, ask him to fetch one item, then throw all of them! See if he retrieves the correct item. You can even pack some doggy treats to reward your smart puppy when he fetches the right toy!
Finally, when playing fetch outside, limit the amount of time you spend outdoors, even if your puppy is having a blast. Because puppies are smaller, they will become cold faster than adult dogs and humans.
Before you head out on a winter wonderland adventure with your puppy, please bear these important puppy safety tips in mind so that you keep your furry friend comfortable, happy, and warm while outside:
- Limit your puppy’s time outdoors when the weather is below freezing
- Dress your puppy in a sweater and booties to help keep him warm while outside
- Provide your puppy with fresh water while outside so that he doesn’t eat snow to hydrate himself*
- After play, clean your puppy’s paws thoroughly to remove ice-melt salt and other chemicals, toxins, and dirt that he may have stepped in*
- Plan extra time inside after outdoor play to warm up and make sure your puppy has dried off
If you have any concerns regarding your puppy’s safety outside during the cold, winter months, do not hesitate to ask your vet.
*Snow is not clean, nor is it safe for dogs. Snow may contain pollution, chemicals, dirt, and ice-melt salt, all of which can cause sickness and possibly fatality in puppies. Never allow your puppy to lick his paws after outside play, because if he has stepped on ice-melt salt and ingests it, he will get very sick and may need to see a vet.
There you have it! Three fun, outdoor activities for your puppy to play this winter! We hope that these simple ideas will help you bond with your puppy while having a blast outside.
Are you looking to add a new puppy to your pet family? Or are you interested in becoming a puppy parent for the first time? Petland Parma can help unite you with the best dog breed for your lifestyle, and introduce you to the perfect puppy for you! Meet our available puppies online, or stop in our Parma location to discover which precious puppy is ready to be your best friend!