The Best Winter Exercises For Your Dog

How to give your best friend a workout in the coldest months

If you thought winter was hard on you, imagine being a dog. Walks are shorter and colder, paw pads have to deal with harsh ice and salt, and they have to sigh even more dramatically to remind you they need to go out ASAP. Not only are they bored as hell being stuck inside most of the day, they're also not getting enough much-needed exercise. But just because it's freezing outside, doesn't mean your pets have to go into a vegetative state. Consider the following puppy-approved exercise options for both indoor and outdoor play during the coldest season of the year.

Hide & Seek

Toss your pooch's a snack to distract him while you hide a toy, or if he's well-trained, order him to stay while you bury it out of sight—under the couch covers, behind a door, in the tub (you get the idea). Then shout your command to get him sniffing around the house for that favorite chew toy. The search will keep his brain chugging and his furry body moving until he's all worn out.

Create an Obstacle Course

Hide your dog's dinner in a cardboard box and place it somewhere she doesn't usually eat it. Then create a trail of snacks throughout the house that lead to the big prize. According to Cesar's Way, "Dogs have incredibly powerful scenting abilities, so exercises that require your pal to use her nose are especially stimulating." If you're feeling even more ambitious, check out one of these indoor agility kits which you can set up inside and turn your living room into a Double Dare dog-training playground.

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Up the Ante on Fetch

Nix the indoor doldrums with a new take on fetch. Instead of playing your standard game of throw and retrieve, try playing tag—tag your pup and then run away and make her catch you. Or better yet, when you toss a toy, race her to catch it.

Doggy Squats & Push-ups

You are your dog's best personal trainer, and that means you can get his blood pumping with some pet-friendly home workouts. PetSafe has the perfect solution that's both engaging for him and easy for you: "Have your dog sit, do a down position, and then sit back up. Once your dog is anticipating the behavior add "stand" in between. Start by offering treats after each command. Then, challenge your dog by giving him treats only after sequences. Continue to vary the sequence and add reps between treats."

Destination Walks

Map the two or three pet-friendly stores (or straight-up pet stores) within walking distance and plan a puppy excursion that involves indoor stops for warming up and rewarding snacks.

Interval Training

One way to amp up the exercise in a shorter amount of time when the weather is especially biting is to practice outdoor interval training with your pup. Interval training will increase the amount of calories you and your dog burn. PetMD suggests the following: "One minute walk, 20 second jog, one minute walk, 20 second sideways shuffle, one minute walk, 20 seconds of running backwards – repeat five times and you've got an easy 20 minute workout done." You'll both burn out quicker than going long distances at a steady pace. So when you're ready to warm up, you'll have already tired your pooch out for the day.

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Hit the Slopes

If you've got a pair of skis and dog who loves the snow, you're in for a treat. PetMD recommends Skijor, a type of cross-country skiing where your dog leads you through the snow.

Create a Makeshift Stairmaster

Play a game of chase on your staircase, whether it's in your house or in your building. Give your pooch a treat each time you reaches the landing to keep momentum up.

There's Always Doga

It may seem out there, but doggy yoga is a real thing and you don't need a class to do it. Rover has some tips for integrating your pooch into your home practice—from lifting small dogs in Warrior pose to practicing stretching alongside larger dogs.

Build a Doggy treadmill

If you're handy with power-tools and plywood, you can totally make your own DIY doggy treadmill. Check out some of the best instructions here, here and here.

Best Dog Guide

Tug of War

Tugging at a rope is hours of fun for your dog, and it's a great way to wear him out for a while. If you're tired of holding the other end of the rope, consider a indoor tether tug like this one (specifically for dogs under 30 pounds). You can put the base of one end underneath the sofa and let your dog go to work on the other.