Equal parts hibernation and outdoor exploration.
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woman and her husky playing in the snow; winter bucket list
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Winter has a way of making that feeling of boredom and blah creep in, and I recently found myself bored with my usual after-work walk with my dogs. I can only walk in the dark so many times before it starts to feel like a trudge. I realized that if I'm bored, then my dogs probably are, too, and it's time to add some variety to our days.

To not fall into the boredom trap this winter and share some new experiences with my pups, I put together a winter bucket list with 10 activities you and your pup can do together this winter to beat the winter blues, stay active, and strengthen your relationship (while counting down the days until Daylight Saving Time starts again).

1. Bake Homemade Treats

peanut butter coconut oil treats
Credit: Jason Donnelly

A cold winter day spent baking in the kitchen is one of my favorite ways to make it through winter. Unfortunately, our dogs can't lick the brownie batter spoon, so making them their own, dog-safe treats is a much better option. If you're new to baking, try these easy peanut butter coconut oil dog treats, and for all the future Great British Baking Show contestants, this dog birthday cake is sure to impress.

2. Try a New Outdoor Activity

man skiing/skijoring with a husky
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Trying not to succumb to the couch potato life for the next few months? Good! The health benefits of movement for both you and your dog are worth bundling up. Make it a point this year to try a new outdoor activity together. Ever heard of skijoring? If you can't make it to a mountain this season, skijoring with your pup might be the next best thing. You get to strap on a pair of skis while your dog wears a harness and pulls you across the snow. If that doesn't sound feasible for you and your dog (a shih tzu will not be participating in this activity!) here are ten other winter outdoor activities you can try.

3. Introduce Your Dog to Nose Work


beagle practicing nose work in the snow
Credit: Aleksandr Zotov / Getty


Put your pooches' amazing sniffer to work with scent training. These activities are more accessible than other sports that require special equipment, so virtually anyone can give nose work a try. Plus, engaging a dog's sense of smell is incredibly enriching and mentally stimulating. Start small and place some treats or kibble under a towel or blanket, then let your dog sniff them out (or you could try a snuffle mat). Once they master the blankets, slowly make it harder by placing treats in open boxes and placing them around the house. The key is to start easy, slowly work your way up, and have fun engaging with your dog!

4. Romp, Run, Dig, and Play in the Snow

woman running in snow with her two dogs; why do dogs like snow?
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Something about playing in the snow makes me feel like a kid again. Tap into your inner child and go crazy in the snow with your pup! They're already running around and excited to experience this magical white stuff, and they would have even more fun with you by their side. Just be sure it's not too cold outside, and limit snow play to short sessions so your dog won't get too chilly.

5. Do a Puzzle

dog playing with interactive dog puzzle; winter bucket list
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If your family is anything like mine, we become puzzle fiends during the cold Midwest winter months. It's more mentally engaging than a Netflix binge, and the sense of accomplishment when you place that last piece? Nothing compares. Let your pup join in on the fun with their own puzzle. Just remember to start with easy ones and work your way up so they don't get frustrated.

6. Throw a Super Bowl Paw-ty

Corgi wearing Green Bay Packer sporty jersey
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Don't forget the dog jerseys with your favorite team, pup-friendly snacks, and toys to keep everyone entertained. Here are some of our best paw-ty-throwing tips to throw a memorable Super Bowl bash.

7. Get Crafty

white dog with two diy fabric toy bones
Credit: Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

For those frigid days when the last thing you want to do is bundle up and go outside, do a craft instead. This DIY dog toy is easy to make in only three steps and items you probably already have around the house. Warning: If your dog is a tough chewer, you might want to skip this one so your hard work doesn't get destroyed in 10 minutes.

8. Train Your Dog To Be Comfortable With Boots

golden retriever running in snow wearing red snow boots
Credit: Wendy / Adobe Stock

Our dogs might hate them, but dog boots are actually practical and necessary for both hot and cold climates. In winter, they can help prevent frostbite and protect your dog from hazardous ice melt. Now is the perfect time to get your dog comfortable in them before the weather turns and you're in a pinch. Check out our best training tips to help your pup get used to the weird sensation of wearing shoes (while those first few steps are hilarious, laughing at your dog while they struggle is not recommended).

9. Build an Indoor Agility Course

dog doing an indoor obstacle course activity
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If your backyard is covered in snow, try building an indoor agility course. Not only is agility training a thrill to watch, but it gives your dog some much-needed mental stimulation and physical exercise, and it can even strengthen your bond. Clear some space in your home so you don't accidentally break anything, and set up a course with items around your home, such as an ottoman, broomstick, empty boxes, and stacked pillows or blankets. Lead your dog through the course while walking to help them get the hang of it, then encourage them to run through. Once you've mastered your indoor agility course, here are twelve other indoor games to play with your pup.

10. Cuddle up and Watch a Feel-good Movie Together

couple watching a movie with their dog; what to watch with your dog
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After all that outdoor excitement and indoor training, you both deserve a nice couch snuggle sesh while your favorite show plays in the background. Looking for something new to watch? Here are seven new movies and shows to stream in January, and don't forget these movie-night essentials.