Looking for the best places to walk your dog this winter? We round up some useful online resources for discovering dog walks on your doorstep and beyond.
Exercising our dogs is as important as ever in wintertime, so don’t let the colder, darker days put you off! Just as getting out into the fresh air is brilliant for our own physical and mental wellbeing, our canine companions benefit hugely from winter walks and activities, too.
While dog walking is less thirsty work in winter than in summer, you’ll still need to make sure your dog is well hydrated, and stays warm enough on chilly days. Keep a close eye on puppies and senior dogs who’ll have different exercise needs and find it harder to regulate their body temperatures, as well as breeds with short hair or low body fat who really feel the cold. Get these dogs kitted out with a warm, water-resistant coat for winter walks.
If you walk your dog off the leash, you might want to consider fitting a GPS tracker to their collar. Also, if you’re out after dark, consider equipping your pet with a light-up collar or reflective harness, so they will be visible to passing traffic (and to you!).
Once you’re all set for walkies, all you need is a destination. So, where should you look if you fancy a change from your usual haunts, and want to explore somewhere new with your dog?
It’s always a good idea to check out local magazines and tourist board websites for walking inspiration. Facebook groups such as Countryside Dog Walks can also be valuable sources of up-to-date info and word-of-mouth recommendations, although they can be awkward to search. Instead, try these online resources for finding dog walks near you, bearing in mind any local restrictions on walking and exercise that may be in place:
Local dog walks (by local people)
The Walkiees website relies on user-generated content. Walk descriptions and member comments often include local tips and insights that you’d struggle to find elsewhere – with coverage varying by region.
Happy trails with your dog
AllTrails is an international site catering for walkers of every kind – but you can select the ‘dog friendly’ filter to weed out any routes that are unsuitable for your pooch. Search by country, city or local park, or move your mouse over the searchable map, to find potential walks. Those who’ve done the trail before can supply reviews, updates and tips. You can also sort by attraction – if you’re on the hunt for a forest walk, for instance – or filter routes as point-to-point, out-and-back or circular. The elevation-gain profiles are useful for those walking with young, old or downright lazy dogs (or owners)!
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Dog-friendly National Trust destinations
The National Trust’s portfolio of the best places for dog walking contains such a diverse collection of urban and rural destinations that it’s well worth dipping into for ideas. The dog walks are arranged by region, then by county, and handy route maps accompany some walks. However, some sections contain more suggestions than others, and it can be tricky to search for something specific, meaning you’ll probably read through some content that you’ll quickly rule out. That said, it’s great for dog-walking inspiration!
Explore Dog Walks Near Me
Dog Walks Near Me features a database of tried-and-tested routes with an easy map-search facility. Each route is categorised by time, distance and difficulty, which is especially helpful when it comes to protecting a puppy’s growing bones, or if you’ve an elderly dog that can’t walk as far as they used to. The thorough directions include parking advice and downloadable route maps.
Best beach dog walks
If your dog’s idea of heaven is sand and sea, even in the colder months, then bookmark The Beach Guide’s database of dog-friendly beaches. Many UK beaches have seasonal restrictions in place for dogs, even on leads. This database is indispensable, as it sets out exactly which parts of the beaches are off-limits, and when. Simply search by county, and then click through to your chosen beach. It’s a good idea to use this in conjunction with local tide tables to make sure a dog walk is still possible at high tide. Happy walking!
Tell us about your favourite winter walks with your dog – post on Facebook, Instagram or X with the tag #PethoodStories for a chance to be featured in our future e-newsletters or on our social pages.