Walkies and playtime should be included in any pup’s daily routine, but what many people wonder is how to exercise a dog in the winter when it’s not exactly pleasant to spend time outside? In this guide, we’re going to discuss the common issues that arise with wintertime doggy exercise, including how much exercise dogs actually need in winter, as well as provide you with some excellent tips on how to exercise your dog in the winter. Keep on reading to learn how to keep your pup fit and active throughout the colder months! 

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How To Exercise Dog In Winter: Introduction

Staying active is essential for any living being, but especially for our four-legged companions. However, during those cold winter months, finding appropriate ways to get in a decent amount of exercise can be tricky, especially if you live in areas where winter months can get really cold. 

Indeed, most dogs have a thick layer of fur that’s technically a layer of clothing on them. But not all dogs tolerate cold weather due to various reasons. Whether it’s because of their health conditions, coat type, or even age, there are numerous things to consider when it comes to exercising dogs in winter. 

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you should hide your pup away inside the house when it’s snowing outside and neither of you is exactly keen on going outside. Likewise, winter isn’t an excuse to stop all physical exercise and watch your pup pack on the pounds whilst also getting annoyingly restless indoors. 

So, how to exercise a dog in winter? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss now… 

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need In Winter?

Dogs need as much exercise in the winter as they do in summer, fall, and spring. Regardless of the season or weather outside, dogs need their daily exercise to stay healthy and at an optimal weight. In addition to that, regular exercise will keep your dog’s joints and bones strong, muscles functioning, and their heart healthy.

Not only is exercise beneficial for preventing weight gain and obesity, it’s also essential to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. If your dog doesn’t get enough mental and physical stimulation each day, you’ll soon have to deal with undesired behaviors and a pup that’s constantly acting up. 

However, that’s not to say that all dogs should exercise the same amount each day. It all boils down to your dog’s breed and their overall activity levels. For instance, super active breeds like Poodles and Australian Shepherds need a hefty amount of exercise each day, without a doubt. Meanwhile, some other breeds that aren’t as energetic require much less exercise on a daily basis.

Similarly, your dog’s size could also dictate their exercise needs. Even very small dogs that have high energy levels simply don’t have the same stamina as some larger herding dogs. And for this reason, they can also live perfectly healthy lives with less exercise compared to some other breeds.

At the end of the day, it’s vital that you as a dog owner know exactly what your pup’s exercise requirements and activity levels are. Preferably, even before adoption – how else can you decide to adopt a dog if you don’t know how much time you’ll be spending on their daily walkies, playtime, and training?!

Is It Fine To Walk My Dog In The Cold?

Again, to help you decide what weather is okay for your dog to walk outside, it’s important to consider your dog’s unique needs. If you want to learn how to exercise your dog in winter, then taking the right safety precautions are key to solving the puzzle. 

First of all, consider your dog’s breed and coat type. Some breeds have a single, thin layer of fur, meaning that they’re also more prone to hypothermia. On the other hand, some breeds originate from cold climates and their thick, double layered coats will keep them warm all year round, even in the most extreme weather conditions. 

Secondly, consider your dog’s size, age, and health conditions. For instance, smaller dogs are usually more sensitive to extreme weather conditions, especially when it’s freezing outside. Similarly, young puppies and elderly dogs usually don’t tolerate extreme weather conditions as well as healthy adult dogs do. 

And, of course, if your dog is suffering from a medical condition, it’s especially important to stay cautious and follow your vet’s exact guidelines. For example, dogs with joint problems like arthritis or hip dysplasia will have a very difficult time when having to exercise outdoors in cold weather. 

In addition to all that, you should also consider whether or not the weather is too cold for your pup to tolerate. Keep in mind that snow, wind, and icy pavement can all make outdoor exercise that much more difficult for your pup. 

Best Indoor Exercises For Dogs In Winter

Knowing how to exercise your dog in winter when it’s too cold to go outside is going to keep your pup’s little body moving, their heart healthy, and their mind entertained. The following indoor exercises are not just about getting your dog’s heart rate up, but also keeping them entertained and their minds working – as they’re intended to! Let’s take a closer look:

Flirt Pole Chase

Flirt pole is an excellent way to play with your pet, get them moving, and have some fun alongside your best pal. You can purchase flirt poles for dogs from almost any pet store or online retailer. These toys have a durable string with a handle on one end and an enticing toy on the other. Simply throw the toy for your pup to chase and catch, and you’ll both have the best time ever running around the living room! 


Playing fetch is probably most dogs’ favorite activity, ever! Of course, this also requires plenty of space so that your pup can run around freely to go fetch their toy. And remember, if your dog does accidentally break something at home, you have only yourself to blame. So, make sure that you’re only playing fetch in a spacious area where your pup can move comfortably without breaking anything they shouldn’t. 

Chuckit! Classic Launcher Dog Toy

Running On The Stairs Or Dog Treadmill

Utilizing your home stairs or running on a doggy treadmill is an excellent outlet for very active dogs who just have to run around to prevent destructive behaviors around the house. But we do urge you to be cautious with this one, as excessive running can be a bit risky for some dogs, especially those who have issues with their joints already. Moreover, if your dog is scared of the stairs or the treadmill, you’ve got to take care of this fear first before forcing them to do anything they’re not enjoying. 

Treat Hunt

Dogs have insanely sensitive noses, so why not put their incredible sense of smell to good use? This is a perfect way for your pup to get some exercise in, as well as provide them with some much-needed mental enrichment. First instruct your pup to sit still while you hide their favorite treat or toy somewhere around the house. Once they’ve successfully found the treat, make sure to give them lots and lots of praise, too! 

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Home Obstacle Course

If you’re not sure how to exercise your dog in winter, then a home obstacle course will surely be a great solution that’s both fun and stimulating for your pup. You can use boxes, chairs, pillows, or even a tunnel to create obstacles for them to practice and hone their agility skills. 

The key in all of this is to make sure that each exercise is done safely and without any risks of injury. In addition to that, remember that every pup’s needs are different. If you’ve got a smaller dog, very large obstacles are likely not the best way to go. Likewise, if you’ve got a large dog, make sure that they can safely stand and walk on the obstacles you’ve built for them. 


Tell me one dog who doesn’t love a good tug-of-war?! I’m waiting… This is a wonderful activity that you can do with your pooch, and it’ll keep them stimulated both mentally and physically throughout the game. In addition to that, these types of games will only strengthen the bond that you share. 

Hide And Seek

Another super fun game for you to play with your dog is hide and seek. You don’t need any equipment and not even the most spacious home to play this game with your dog! Have your pup sit still while you hide with their favorite treats and once your pup finds you, reward them with praise and that tasty yumminess they’ve been looking for. Again, this is an excellent physical and mental stimulation exercise, keeping your pup moving and guessing all throughout the fun. 

Tips To Keep Your Dog Warm In Winters

Knowing how to exercise your dog in the winter is crucial, since they have the exact same exercise requirements all throughout the year. Although you can certainly replace some outdoor activities with indoor ones instead, getting some fresh air and some nice low intensity workout is still beneficial for our four-legged family members. 

However, you can make those outdoor workout sessions shorter so that you won’t put your pet’s health at risk nor cause them any unnecessary discomfort for long periods of time. But even if it’s just for a quick potty break, you’ll definitely want to keep your pup warm and ensure that they’re not getting cold while trying to do their business in cold temperatures. 

Choose The Right Time

Firstly, you should check the temperature throughout the day and figure out the warmest time to take your pal for a longer walk. Your dog probably has its own potty schedule, which includes mornings and evenings, so try to keep these potty breaks short and sweet. However, for a slightly longer walk, try to choose a time of the day when it’s warmest outside – usually around midday or early afternoon. 

Keep Your Pup Warm With Proper Clothing

Secondly, we recommend you get a nice winter jacket and maybe even some snow booties for your dog, as these can keep them all warm and cozy throughout the walk. This is especially important for breeds that are more at risk of hypothermia or who have very light fur coats that won’t keep them warm enough. 

Use A Paw Balm Or Dog Booties

Thirdly, don’t forget to protect your dog’s paws while out and about! In the wintertime, the pavement tends to get icy and cold, and there will likely be a layer of salt on the ground, too. A specially formulated dog paw wax can be a great way to protect your pal’s paws from extreme temperatures. However, dog booties are even better, as your dog won’t even have to step onto the pavement with their bare paws. 

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How To Exercise Dog In Winter: FAQs

How Can I Exercise My Dog Indoors In The Winter?

You can utilize fun indoor activities and games, such as playing fetch, running on the stairs or investing in a dog treadmill, preparing a fun home obstacle course, or playing tug-of-war, flirt pole chase, or hide and seek with your best pal. Don’t forget to also focus on other enrichment activities, such as training, socialization, and interactive toys and games. This will keep your pup entertained and prevent boredom. 

Do Dogs Need As Much Exercise In Winter?

Yes, dogs need just as much exercise in winter as they do in any season. In fact, what many people get wrong is that they assume dogs won’t need to move as much in the winter. But that’s where the behavioral problems usually start! 

How Do I Keep My Dog Active In The Winter?

You can keep your dog active in the winter by providing them the same amount of exercise as you would during any other season. For outdoor exercise, make sure your dog’s paws are protected with either a paw pad balm or dog booties. You can also invest in a good quality doggy coat that’ll keep them warm. However, you might want to scale back outdoor activities a bit if the weather is too extreme and instead replace it with fun indoor activities, such as the ones we mentioned above. 

How To Exercise Dog In Winter: Final Thoughts

It’s completely understandable that some people are having a hard time figuring out how to exercise dogs in winter. During the coldest months, even stepping outside for a potty break can be unpleasant for our canine pals. However, if you take the right precautions, such as choosing the right time of day and clothing your pup in some nice doggy winter wear, you can still have some fun outdoors. Not to mention, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy with your dog. Just make sure that the exercises and games you play are suitable for your dog’s age and size, and done safely. So keep that in mind when deciding how to exercise your dog in winter, or any time of the year for that matter. 

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One thought on “How To Exercise a Dog In the Winter: A Comprehensive Guide

Barb Reply

Thank you for this article. We have been wondering if we are giving our puppy enough exercise this winter. This is our first winter with her and she seems to sleep or lay on her bed quite a bit. We play tug of war and fetch everyday with her but some days she seems bored with them. You have now given us some other options.

January 8, 2024 at 8:03 am

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