6 Winter Sports You And Your Pup Will Love

Dogs certainly don’t hibernate in the winter months, and neither should you! Stay active with your beloved pup this winter with these dog-friendly, fun, and frosty adventures.

Not all snow sports are suited to do with dogs. Downhill skiing is an example of a winter sport that puts a lot of physical demand on your dog and can be unpredictable with deep pockets of snow and steep, fast descents.

Whether you’re looking to frolic in a winter wonderland or venturing out for some winter sports action, your dog will love you for choosing cold weather escapades they can join you on. You don’t need winter Olympics-level skills to get out and enjoy snow sports. Remember to have fun!

Is My Dog Ready For Winter Dog Sports?

winter care tips for dogs
pc: @couleedogs

Some dog breeds are better suited for winter sports than others.

The thick, coarse coats of natural winter lovers like huskies, malamutes, and Newfoundland dogs repel water and keep these northern breeds warm, making them great winter companions. Smaller dogs with thinner coats can still enjoy winter with the big dogs, they just need a little more winter gear to keep them warm!

Start building up your dog’s endurance with shorter adventures, and start gradually increasing activities. Any pup that’s healthy enough to run outside should have no trouble training for winter sports. Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian if you have any doubts about your dog’s abilities.

Cold Weather Essentials For Outdoor Doggy Adventures:

  • Dog jacket
  • Booties
  • Dog poop bags
  • Appropriate harnesses, leashes, and towlines
  • Paw wax, like Musher’s Secret
  • Dog treats
  • Favorite toys
  • Water
  • Dog bowl

The 6 Best Winter Sports To Do With Your Dog

dog snowshoing

1. Snowshoeing

Looking for a leisurely winter activity to do with your pup? Strap on your snowshoes and hit the trail! Make sure the places you plan to snowshoe are dog-friendly and be aware of leash laws in different areas. Visiting your favorite summer trails under a blanket of snow is sure to make for a beautiful winter scene.

Make sure it’s not too cold for dogs to be outside before setting off on your winter adventures. Smaller dog breeds have a lower tolerance for cold and need jackets to keep warm.

A dog’s paws are the first place they’re vulnerable to frostbite, and they can develop sores from walking on cold, rough surfaces through snow and ice. Booties are the perfect all-around paw protection for cold-weather activities.

2. Cross-Country Skiing

dog winter sports

Strap on the cross-country skis and hit the track! Any dog that loves to run around in the snow will love running with you as you glide in perfect stride. Consider going at off times to increase the chances that you and your dog get the track all to yourselves.

Some cross-country ski tracks don’t allow dogs, since their paws can ruin the smooth track, and their excitement can be a hazard to other skiers. There’s also the concern of dog poop contaminating what would be a winter wonderland. Always pick up after your dog!

If your local groomed cross-country ski trails don’t allow dogs, look into backcountry trail options!

3. Dog Sledding

dog sledding

The Alaskan husky is the most popular breed of sled dog by far, but most dogs over 35 pounds and with enough stamina to run can be trained to pull! Dog sled racing isn’t just for Alaska’s Iditarod. With a little training for you and your dog, you’ll be calling yourself a musher in no time.

Start your dog training to pull a sled by having them tow smaller, lighter objects first. Praise and treats are great motivators!

With your dog pulling you along through the frosty air and the snow glistening as you ride, you’re sure to make some special winter memories with your four-legged best friend. 

Dog Sledding Commands & Meanings:

Line Out: Ready Position

Hike or Mush: Start moving

Gee: Right turn

Haw: Left Turn

Easy: Slow down

Whoa: Stop

On By: Keep moving or “leave it”

4. Skijoring

dog winter sports

Skijoring or “skikjøring” is traditionally a Norwegian sport that’s been gaining more popularity in the U.S. The Norwegian word literally translates to “ski driving” in English.

It’s a combination of cross-country skiing and dog sledding where you as the skier are pulled over snow by your dog, attached by a bungee towline with a waist belt for you and a pulling harness for them. As you push yourself forward on skis, your dog helps pull you over the snow.

This sport isn’t for small dogs but if your dog is at least 35 pounds and has the energy to pull, you’re in business!

Though this form of mushing (travel over snow by dogs) began as a mode of long-distance transportation in Norway, skijoring races are becoming popular across Nordic countries. The snow sport even had a brief stint in the 1928 winter Olympics held in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Tips For Successful Skijoring With Your Dog:

  • Practice skiing before you harness up your pup
  • Teach your dog how to pull before you get on skis
  • Choose durable, comfortable, and well-fitting gear for you and your dog
  • Make sure to use a pulling harness — not a walking harness
  • Wear the required protective gear, like pads and a helmet

5. Kicksledding


Imagine a typical dog sled, just without the power of dogs! A kicksled looks similar to a dog sled in that you stand upright, and place your feet on ski-like blades that let you guide and glide over the snow, using one foot to “kick” off the ground behind you. 

Experienced kicksledders recommend pushing off five times with one foot before switching to the other, and so on back and forth. Originating in Sweden and Finland, this winter mode of transportation is a great cardio exercise for people who want a little more stability while traveling over the snow.

Kicksledding with your dog will probably look similar to skijoring, where your dog will wear a pulling harness and pull your kicksled from the front while you propel yourself with your feet from the back. A bridle is important to safely attach your dog to the kicksled while allowing for mobility around corners and sharp turns.

6. Canicross Running

canicross running

Are you a fan of cross-country running? Canicross is exactly that… with dogs! Think of it as canine + cross country. Enjoyable in any season, canicross running is a great cold-weather activity to get your and your dog’s hearts pumping and keep warm.

Canicross involves dog owners running with their dogs and guiding them with verbal cues. Typically dogs run ahead and wear a harness attached to their human running partner’s waist belt by a bungee line. The bungee is able to stretch as your dog pulls and keep them from pulling you forward or backward if they stop short while running. Of course, you can run with your dog alongside you as well.