How cold is too cold for a dog walk? Dog walking challenge day 1

Today is day 1 of That Mutt’s 21-day dog walking and training challenge.

Details on the challenge here.

This morning, Ace and I walked 2 miles.

That’s no problem for us here in (boring) sunny San Deigo, but what about those of you who live in colder climates, like in Minneapolis or – God forbid – Grand Forks, N.D.?

When is it simply too cold?

Personally, I believe you can always walk for at least 10 minutes. Most dogs are fine for even longer. I know this because I lived in Minnesota and North Dakota for 30 years, and for 5 of those years I was a professional dog walker.

I’m not saying every single dog can be out in those brutal temps. An Italian greyhound is a little different than a malamute.

You know your dog best. So, how cold would you say is too cold for you and your pup?


Here are my tips to get you motivated for winter walking:

1. Commit to 5 minutes. Once you’re out, you’ll probably realize it’s not so bad.

2. You can feel proud of yourself afterwards, because most people won’t venture out. You’re sort of a bad ass.

3. Change your route so you’re fairly close to the house. It’s boring, but at least you’ll be able to get back inside faster if needed.

4. Run! You’ll stay warmer. (See my winter dog running tips.)

5. Winter walks are often the most peaceful. I miss the quiet, calmness of a snowy woods. This photo was taking in a park in north Fargo, N.D.

Snowy woods in North Fargo North Dakota

6. Split your walks into two or three shorter sessions throughout the day.

7. Reward yourself for getting out there. I use sweets, alcohol and carb-heavy meals to reward myself for my workouts all the time. Sometimes, you just need to reward yourself.

8. Send your pics to me! I love to see wintry dog photos, and if you email a pic to or post to That Mutt’s Facebook page you’ll be entered to win a prize this week.

And what’s the prize?

Everyone who participates in our 21-day dog walking challenge this week will be entered to win a bag of treats from Look Who’s Happy. Must have a U.S. mailing address to win.

To enter, just participate in the challenge and do one of the following:


  • Comment on any of my challenge posts. There’s 3 now: here, here and here
  • Email me a photo of your active mutt on a walk
  • Post a photo of your active mutt to That Mutt’s Facebook page
  • Tweet about the challenge using #ActiveMutts


Pretty easy. I’ll choose a winner each Sunday for the next three weeks.

How is your first day of the 21-day walking challenge?

Follow along using #ActiveMutts on Twitter or follow That Mutt on Facebook or Instagram.

16 thoughts on “How cold is too cold for a dog walk? Dog walking challenge day 1”

  1. I think the coldest weather I’ve walked in was about -35C (-31 F). I live farther north than ND (Alberta, Canada), but I think it’s actually warmer here… I went though ND a couple weeks ago and it was wretched!

    First day is going great. It’s a beautiful, sunny, -3C (27 F) day! We’ve only done 67 minutes so far, but we’ll get in the other 8 minutes later.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      62 degrees today here. Ace was hot! 🙂 Thanks for your update.

      The coldest weather I ever walked in was probably -17 F or so. I think the coldest actual temp I’ve seen was -28 F one night in January. And then of course there’s always the insane windchill factor where it “feels like” -45 F or whatever. I think once you’re at -20 or so as the real temp it doesn’t really matter if there’s an extra “wind chill” factor. Ha.

  2. We don’t get anywhere near as cold as some of you – and are ‘those’ kind of people who jump for childish joy when there’s a smattering of snow (half a cm is VERY exciting don’tcha know 😉 ) Although, saying all that – we are forecast for some next week, and I’ll be out with my two making the biggest snowman half a centimetre can make 🙂

    Walking – I like to stick to the hour rule – if we’ve walked an hour, we’ve done a good walk – anything less I feel like I’ve failed!

  3. We’ve had a pretty mild winter so the dogs have been find outside, but we had our first walk yesterday. It’s been a couple months. We were playing with the dogs on our property, but I figure after a couple months, they have GOT to be bored and they were. I opened my car door and all 4 jumped in and were ready to go for a walk. They had a blast (we met up with friends – 2 standard poodles) and walked 3 miles.

  4. Like you, our winter temps are usually in the 60s so no complaints! We spent the last few weeks at Lake Tahoe so it’s usually in the 30s or 40s but one day was only 25 and I was totally freezing. The bonus of Tahoe though is that it is so breathtaking, you forget about the cold! And it is usually very sunny.

    But the next week it was in the 50s & all the snow started to melt. The dogs don’t seem to mind the cold but they run & play while we’re out so they build up body heat:) I don’t know how people do true winters. I am a total weather wuss. Can’t handle heat & humidity either!

  5. I’m also in “boring” southern California, so I won’t have any fun winter pics of this challenge, although I did get some great winter pics when we were in Washington for a couple months. Here in CA my biggest walking priority is getting up really early or waiting for near sunset to walk so the sun isn’t beating down on us.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yep, I try to do walks early in the morning for the same reason. I walked Ace around 11 a.m. yesterday and he thought it was too hot.

  6. Don’t ask me how, but we’ve lucked out in Alaska this year with 2014 not having any days below zero degress Farenhiet. That being said, doesn’t mean that for little doggies it doesn’t get cold below 32 degrees F. So Missy and Aeon have jackets (home made by me! 🙂 ) that they wear while outside. Aeon is short coated so she really needs one but Missy our maltese actually sometimes seems just fine to walk two houses down without a coat, no legs being picked up or anything. Now new snow she does not like trudging through and I’m sure its because she’s got tiny little legs and it sticks to her feathers.

    Now when we’ve had cold spells in the past years D.O.G. our lab mix has been fine, he doesn’t get cold before I do! Belle, would need a coat and at least one booty on her back paw in order to be out and as long as we were moving, she was fine. But yes I would wimp out before them, but then we would play games in the house if that happened. 🙂

    We didn’t sign up for the walking challenge due to D.O.G. having a lump removed and both girls had their teeth done this week so we are kind of resting this week. 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh, yes, you guys better rest! I hope D.O.G. is OK and the girls too. Ace would get pretty cold sometimes in North Dakota. His feet were definitely more sensitive than a lot of the other dogs I knew there. He hated wearing his coat, though. He would rather be cold!

  7. I wouldn’t min being in “boring” California these days…we’ve had several really cold days with temperatures in the -12 C/16 F range here in NC, but we bundled up and still walked for about 15 mins. The last 2 days were actually fairly good weather wise – some rain, but nothing crazy. The forecast calls for ice rain tomorrow…yikes, hope that won’t happen!

  8. For us, -40 Celsius with windchill is simply too cold. Anything under that warrants caution so we stick around close so we could terminate in case paws get cold. -20 and less is balmy LOL

  9. I feel so bad for Laika – she loves the snow but has really sensitive feet. We use musher’s wax to help but it’s been pretty obvious this week it’s still bothering her if we’re out for more than 15 minutes. She’d gladly keep going but I have to pull her in when I notice the way she starts picking up her paws differently. I’ve never had a dog that has had feet problems before (hers crack & get chapped easily) and it’s pretty ironic that the one dog I’ve had who absolutely loves the snow isn’t quite as hardy.

  10. We’ve had some -20 days recently (-30 with the windchill). Those are a bit too cold for Baxter. We’ll stay out for about 20 minutes, but by then he’s usually ready to come inside. His fur is so thin that he can’t stay out too long. When his feet get cold he’ll hold them up in the air until I warm them up for him.

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