Winter is coming where I live in the northeastern United States, and this will be my first cold winter with a dog. It will be cold enough that we won't be able to spend long periods of time outside. Also, the amount of snow will make it difficult to get around (even walks will be difficult/dangerous, since the sidewalks will be covered with snow).

I need to come up with ways to exercise my 1 year old Australian Cattle Dog mix during the winter because I am currently exercising her almost entirely outdoors.

To give an idea how much exercise she needs, her daily exercise routine includes:

  • 1 mile walk first thing in the morning.
  • After breakfast, ~30 minutes of play time chasing frisbees and balls. We stop playing once she's panting and gets tired enough to sit down on her own.
  • Walk or additional play time throughout the day when she starts to get rowdy again. This is usually two or three times per day and involves ~30 minutes for a walk or ~15-20 minutes for chasing frisbees and balls.

There's not really enough space inside the house for her to sprint after a ball, so I don't think she'll get worn out by chasing a ball indoors. Also, I'm reluctant to play something more aggressive with her (like tug of war) because I also have a toddler in the house.

I searched around the Internet for a while and found a few good ideas. For example, this article has some good suggestions. Running up and down the stairs and the treadmill should work for me in particular.

What are other indoor exercises for a dog? I'm looking for activities that aren't too aggressive since I have a young child.

  • 1
    Cattle Dogs have a thick double coat, and generally don't mind cold weather at all. My cattle dog loved to romp in the snow, and it tired her out well because it is more difficult to run in snow. Think layers for you!
    – jalynn2
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 17:15
  • Put on a coat and enjoy the cold weather. I am sure your dog will at least for a while each day. Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


You should look into play groups for your pup. Even if you can only get to 1 per week it will be nice to have a large indoor space where your pup can run around with other dogs and really get some of her physical energy out. Aside from local breed clubs and trainers, Meetup.com is a good place to start. Also, you can probably swing shorter play sessions outside, even in the cold (10 minutes instead of 30, and so on).

Winter is the perfect time to work on obedience training. The mental stimulation can take the place of some physical exercise, which will make it easier to keep you dog occupied all winter. You could also enroll in a local training class for something like canine agility or nose work. Along this same line, you can turn every meal into game time by using a Kong to make you pup work for her meals.


In addition to existing suggestions I'd like to add:

  • Don't assume your dog won't like snow and cold weather. This can differentiate between individual dogs. One of our Huskies just loves cold air while the other one would love to cuddle up all day long during winter.
  • I wouldn't recommend excessive running on stairs, especially for a dog that's still growing. You might cause hip problems later. While this is still something people are discussing, I simply wouldn't risk it.
  • Walks are less about distance, they're more about adventure. You don't have to go far, instead pick some treats or your and let your dog look for them in the snow. Even some parking space can be sufficient for this. Picking up scents, looking for stuff, etc. can tire out dogs faster than any long walk. You might want your dog to try catching snow balls, which is something your kid might join in as well, just make sure to throw past the dog, not directly at it.

Have you thought about getting a treadmill for her? I have several friends who have bought them for their dogs to use when the weather is not so great and they seem to enjoy them!

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