Tuesday Tails: Exercising Dogs in Winter

As you might know, Tasha and Arccos aren’t very big dogs. They are both around 20 pounds. So when the weather gets colder in Wisconsin, exercising them outside just isn’t an option. In fact, each dog has refused to go outside at least once in the past 24 hours. I don’t blame them, the temperature was below zero with wind chills around -20F. When winter hits, they still have energy, but running them around in the yard or taking them on walks/runs is just not an option. They freeze.


Instead, I have cleverly come up with several ways I can exercise them or at least tire them out inside the house, even when I am feeling tired or sick (as often happens to me in the winter months).

1. Fetch with a twist.

Tasha loves to chase after balls and play fetch. In order to burn her energy even faster, we give her a good workout by tossing her favorite ball down the basement steps. After about 20 rounds, she is normally ready for a nap.

2. Hide and Seek

Both dogs, but especially Arccos, love playing hide and seek. It also helps with their recall. I will put them into a down stay and then hide somewhere in the house. When I call them, they have to find me. Arccos could seriously play for an hour, but he isn’t very good at finding me.

3. Treat hide and seek.

Similar to regular hide and seek, I put the dogs into a down stay and then hide some treats all over the house before I release them. This works best with the cracker kind of treats because they are the easiest to vacuum up if one is accidentally found by stepping or sitting on it.

4. Training

Working the dogs minds is just as important as their bodies for tiring a dog out. Actually Tasha could probably run all day, but give her an hour of hard thinking and she is asleep for the next several hours. We use treat training with the dogs to keep teaching them new tricks and enhance their obedience abilities. Fighting their instincts to bark at the sound of the doorbell is a sure fire way for them to tire quickly.

5. Indoor Agility Jump

We don’t need much space to work with the dogs on jumping. About a year ago, we made our first jump for Tasha and she has loved doing it ever since. We are trying to get Arccos into it as well, but he seems less interested in physical activity in general (cuddling seems to be more his speed). If you are just starting out with your dog, put a pole (or broomstick) on the ground and work on having your dog pass over it with an over command. Reward the dog for just stepping over it. As the dog gets more advanced, add a book underneath each end for a little added height. Keep raising the height as needed.

What do you do to keep your dog busy in winter? Do you have any ideas that can be done in small spaces?


About Danielle Beranek

Life can get away from you when being young, married, and still fairly fresh out of college. Taking on a pet, student loans, going back to school, and soon a new house is enough to leave ones head spinning. For me, life is crazy, but only on the outside.
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5 Responses to Tuesday Tails: Exercising Dogs in Winter

  1. Sarah says:

    I have a border collie that loves to run with me. When it’s too cold for us outside I put her on the treadmill for 20 minutes to tire her out. She was hesitant at first but after a few tries she really loves it.


    • I love the treadmill idea and we almost got one for Tasha and us of course about year ago, but it just isn’t/wasn’t in the budget unfortunately. I’m surprised your border collie is tired in 20 minutes, although I guess it combines a lot of thinking with the physical activity.


      • Sarah says:

        She’s 13 so she doesn’t go for as long as she used to. I also run her on it twice a day, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. I have seen a lot of nice used treadmills for around $100 so not too bad. Maybe once the “new year resolution” kick is over for people there might be some on clearance at Walmart or something. Good luck!


  2. Michelle says:

    Love this post! Lately, I have been putting our smaller dog on the treadmill since he won’t willingly step a foot outside when it’s cold. He actually likes it and I think it’s hilarious so it’s a win-win 🙂


    • What kind of dogs do you have? I would love to put our dogs on a treadmill but with LD and I being runners, we are very picky about how they feel and that means $ (LD wants commercial treadmill quality). Maybe some day…


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