Ideas on Keeping Dogs Active if It's Too Cold to Go Outside

Keep your dog happy and healthy during the winter months.
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Snow is falling, the roads are icy and the thermometer nears zero. Your poor dog looks mournfully out the window and back to you, as if pleading for you to make the winter weather go away so he can play outside again. Regardless of what’s going on outside your house, your indoor dog needs daily exercise to help him stay fit and healthy. When the weather is too cold to stay outside long, improvise ways to help him expend his extra energy indoors.

Play Fetch

Playing indoor games with your dog is an easy way to help him blow off his pent-up energy without having to venture outdoors. Locate a good space to play fetch and clear the path of all obstacles before you start, as you don’t want your German shepherd tearing down the hallway and knocking over tables and your children to get his toy. A few times a day, grab your dog’s favorite toy and get his attention. Once he’s quivering with excitement to play with you, hurl it down the hallway and watch him sprint after it. Several good throws and ensuing wild chases can blow off a lot of steam and keep your dog from going stir-crazy from being cooped up inside.


Hide-and-seek is another classic game you can play indoors. It comes with the added benefit of being very versatile in the variety of things you can hide. For starters, hide some morsels of food or doggie treats in relatively easy to find places. Once he smells what you’ve hidden, your dog will work off some energy trying to find and consume the goodies. You can also play hide-and-seek with a toy by sneaking it under a rug or in a corner and instructing your dog to find it. For the most hands-on approach to this game, up the ante by hiding yourself and having your dog locate you.

Enroll in a Class

Another idea to keep your dog active and entertained during cold weather is to participate in a doggie class. Sign up for an agility or obedience class to maximize the indoor activities you can do with your dog. As long as you can get to the class location in cold weather, these dog classes are a great way to engage your dog’s intellect and help him expend his extra energy. Classes usually have the added benefit of allowing for some socialization with other dogs and owners, and you can apply the tricks and tips you learn in class after you get home.

Take Brief Walks

Brave the freezing weather with your dog for at least a few minutes a day. Though there are ways to keep your dog active in cold weather, he still needs fresh air and aerobic exercise. Unless you have a small dog that you’ve trained to eliminate on paper towels or a cat’s litter box, you have to get him outside several times a day to do his business anyway. Just bundle up in extra socks and jackets, make sure you’ve got a grip on his leash even with three pairs of gloves on, and step outside. While he’s finding a place to potty, walk with him briskly around the yard a few times. Turning your dog’s bathroom breaks into short walks is a great way to keep him active in the winter.