Treats & Enrichment

7 Ways to Entertain Your Dog When It’s Cold Outside

December 21, 2022

In a perfect world we would take our dog on a lengthy, fun walk every day. But sometimes, the weather says no. How do you (physically AND mentally) exercise your dog when it’s cold outside?

This morning it was -42 degrees in my city!

Am I taking my dog for a decent walk in that?

No Way Comedy GIF by CBC - Find & Share on GIPHY

Extreme cold is not just unpleasant. It can also be dangerous for dogs!

You can buy winter gear such as dog booties, a jacket, and even goggles to help your dog stay out longer at milder temps, but -40s are rough. Your dogs breath won’t keep their nose defrosted at THOSE temperatures!

So, what DO you do?

How do you (mentally or physically) exercise your dog when it’s cold outside?

Let’s discuss some of my favourite ways!

1. Feed meals in a snuffle mat

Sniffing is INCREDIBLY important for dogs.

Rather than offering their kibble in a boring bowl, try a snuffle mat instead and make them work for it (in a fun way).

exercise your dog when it's cold

2. Short, high intensity outdoor exercise

You might not be able to take your dog for a proper walk, but you’re likely able to get them outside for a couple minutes. Make those minutes count!

On really cold days I’ll typically sprint around the block with my dog Neirah or do 5 frisbee tosses in the yard before we hide inside again.

exercise your dog when it's cold

Don’t underestimate how much of a difference a couple minutes of intense exercise can make!

3. Provide long-lasting treats to keep them busy

Many long-lasting options like bones & antlers can be VERY bad for dog’s teeth. Instead, offer safe & long-lasting treats!

My favourite options?

  • Yak Chews
  • Bully sticks
  • Stuffed & frozen Kongs (I just use wet dog food to fill it!)

4. Play!

There are SO many fun ways to play with your dog:


Indoor fetch.

Flirt poles.

Grab a toy and spend a few minutes just playing with your dog!

5. Treat “treasure” hunts

I LOVE setting up treasure hunts for my dog.

I’ll ask her to stay on the couch, grab a big handful of treats & go hide them around the house, then release her to go find them!

It typically takes her 20-30 minutes to find them all and she’s MUCH more calm afterwards.

6. Teach them a new trick

Brain work can be very tiring for dogs. If playing doesn’t seem to calm your dog down, try teaching them a new trick!

Ideas for tricks you can quickly train:

7. Train your dog to exercise THEMSELVES indoors

There is an incredibly cool treat dispenser & button that you can use to train your dog to exercise independently indoors. That’s right: COMPLETELY by themselves!

If interested, I’ll link both the blog and Youtube tutorials. In the video I show how I take Millie from complete novice to running stairs solo in 90 minutes! You should easily be able to follow the same steps to teach your dog.


How do YOU exercise your dog when it’s cold outside? Share your tips in the comments below for fellow readers!

Happy training 🙂

Disclosure: Happy Hounds uses affiliate links. Purchasing with these links will not cost you any extra, but I get commissions for purchases made through these links. Affiliate links help me to continue to offer free resources & blog posts. I would love if you used them!

7 Ways to Entertain Your Dog When It’s Cold Outside

About the author:

Stephanie Rombough, DBTMc, is a force-free dog trainer in Edmonton, Alberta. She owns Happy Hounds Dog Training, offering private in-person or virtual dog training services. 

Whether your dog is brand new to leash training OR they have a long history of pulling on leash, this program will teach you what you need to know!

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