Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 Fun Snow Games to Play with Your Dog

By Tamara McRill

Do you have a dog that just loves burrowing through the snow? Don't you just love those big doggy grins when they get to frolicking in the powder? I have three snow-loving pooches and, aside from making a dog snowman, playing in the snow is our favorite winter activity.

Of course, we certainly take safety precautions, and winter paw care is a must, but these snow games are easy to safely set up. Here are my dogs' paws-down favorite five snow games:

1. Hide and Seek

Since dogs like to dig in the snow, give them something to find. Bury toys, sticks or even dog treats in the snow and ask your dog to find them. For dogs that aren't good at seeking, you might have to tip them off on where to look. I like to up the excitement and competition by letting the dogs think I'm looking for their toy too.

You might want to avoid playing while snow is falling and accumulating though. That makes it harder to see where you buried stuff and you don't want to have to wait until spring to uncover their favorite bone.

2. Snowball Catch

This is an excellent game for dogs who like to play catch and “kill” things. Pack a snowball, making sure there aren't any ice chunks or rocks in the mix, and lightly toss it for your dog to catch. When they do, they will get the fun and satisfaction of chomping down and destroying the snowball.

You can play other variations, too, such as keep away or just letting your dog run back and forth during a friendly snowball fight. Just make sure everyone understands not to pelt your dog, but to let him chase the snowballs.

3. Tunnel Fun 

I would love to try this by digging actual short (three or four foot long) snow tunnels, but we don't typically get that much depth accumulated. Instead, I shovel pathways for the dogs to follow, like a small maze. They love running through, but it is even more fun when there are CANIDAE dog treats to discover along the way.

If you do have enough snow to dig actual tunnels, make sure there isn't too much snow on top. You don't want a cave-in your dog can't jump right out of.

4. Tackle the Snowman

Sometimes this one just turns into “Lick the Snowman's Head” – my dogs love to eat snow – but Wuppy, my chocolate Labrador, is really good at pouncing on the snowmen.

Before you let your dog outside, go out and make several small snowmen, without using sticks or anything they can get injured on. (I keep them small so the dogs don't think it's okay to tackle big ones.) You can just let your dog pounce at will or use the game as a training exercise, by having them “get” each mini snowman on command.

5. Sliding Games

It never occurred to me that Wuppy or any other dog would enjoy a sliding game, until I took him for a walk the other day. He stopped, went up a small snowy incline, flopped on his back and flew down to the sidewalk. I thought it was clumsiness, until he went back up and did it again... and again!

I guess the lesson learned would be just to observe how our dogs naturally play in the snow. That will tell us what new games they might have a blast playing. Next snowfall, I'll certainly be making us a hill to slide down together. I'm thinking a soft snowy landing would be more forgiving than a sidewalk, though.

What games do you and your dog like to play in the snow?

Top photo by Lulu Hoeller
Bottom photo by Andrew Morrell

Read more articles by Tamara McRill

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