Doggy, It's Cold Outside!

By: Jessica J. Lehr, KPA CTP

Wisconsin winters are long and bitterly cold. This can mean shorter, or entirely missed daily walks and outdoor time for our canine companions.  

While your furry prince (or princess) may relish hibernating by your side, extended time indoors can leave our dogs (and us) feeling board. Without adequate exercise, they may find inappropriate outlets for excess energy, such as chewing, pacing, excessive licking, or barking.

Here are a few fun and unique ideas to help Wisconsin dogs"shake off" cabin fever:

1. Skijoring

You don’t have to have a team of Siberian Huskies to enjoy this unique sport! But you do need snow, and we have plenty of that here in Wisconsin. 

Relatively new, skijoring is a combination of dog sledding and cross country skiing, and requires only a connection harness to your dog. Because of the need to pull and run with their human on skis, the sport is best suited for athletic canines over thirty pounds. 

There are several outfitters that offer skijoring lessons at parks throughout the state, such as Minocqua Winter Park. Hayward's annual Barkie Birkie Skijor race and other state skijoring competitions are fun for observers and pros alike.  

Whether skijoring, dog sledding, snowshoeing or hiking, Wisconsin offers endless trails for you to explore with your dog this winter! 

2. photo ops

 Indi's photo op at Elmbrook Humane Society's annual Photos with Santa Fundraiser

Indi's photo op at Elmbrook Humane Society's annual Photos with Santa Fundraiser

Pet photos make for creative additions to wall displays, holiday cards, and coffee mugs. 

A photo session for your dog with a professional pet photographer is a unique winter activity. In addition to studio locations, specialized pet photographers, such as All Ears Pet Photography of Waukesha and Madison David Photography of Madison, offer expressive sessions at your dogs favorite outdoor spot. 

Many local animal shelters host pet photos with Santa events around the holidays. If your dog is friendly and polite around other people and dogs, this is a fun opportunity to socialize them, while supporting a great cause.


While you are out of the house with your ridiculously good-looking dog, do some shopping at locally-owned, pet-friendly shops. Pet boutiques, such as Paws for Treats in Lake Geneva and Lucy's Closet in Neenah, offer high quality dog treats, specialty items, and gifts in a relaxing atmosphere. 

Your pooch will love all the attention, and be an eager volunteer to sample any treats offered! 

4. Hide & seek

When winter weather rears it's ugly head, it's best to stay indoors with your pets. Fortunately, there are many indoor games - from elaborate agility courses made of chairs, blankets and broomsticks to a simple game of tug of war, to keep your dog engaged.

One of my favorites to play with Indi is "Hide and Seek". I ask him for a sit/stay, toss a toy down the hall, and release him. As he runs to retrieve his toy, I run and hide in another room. When he finds me, I make a huge deal out of it! 

Scent tracking stimulates natural canine instincts, while BIG rewards for finding their human strengthens recall. 

5. Enrichment Toys

Still stuck indoors? 

Consider offering your dog enrichment toys. From puzzles to wobble balls, there are hundreds of products on the market specifically designed to keep your pup mentally engaged. The KONG satellite , for example, challenges them to figure out how to rotate the toy to dispense a treat, while KONG Puzzelments provides a food-free enrichment option with engaging crinkle and squeaker sounds. 


Milwaukee's Great Lakes Pet Expo (GLPE) is held annually in February, and is the largest non-profit pet event in Wisconsin. The expo features tons of pet-related exhibitors, live entertainment, food, VIP shopping, prizes, demonstrations, giveaways and so much more. 

Although your pup must stay home for this event, you are sure to bring them home lots of goodies from the show! 

The 2017 GLPE will be held this Saturday, February 4th. Swing by our booth (#628) and register to win free dog training classes

7. the Vet

Yes, really! Popping into your dog's vet office is a great start to help your dog be more comfortable on routine care visits. Bring some of your dog's favorite treats, let the staff say "hello", and weigh your dog on the scale - all while making it fun and positive! 


Indi is demonstrating a fun shaping game offered in our Waukesha Canine Manners class.

Winter is a great time to join a dog training class offered by a certified, positive reinforcement trainer. Weekly classes can provide your dog with a fun adventure away from home with their favorite human (that's you!).

In Waukesha, our dog/owner teams learn and practice manners, puppy socialization techniques, enrichment games, positive associations with vet and groomer - all in a fun and positive learning environment. Our classes also include training exercises for teams to practice at home, in-between weekly sessions. Learn more about our group classes in Waukesha

What's your favorite winter activity with your dog?