Dog shaking snow

All dogs need exercise for their body and mind, but it can be difficult during Wisconsin’s winter weather. Keeping them safely in your yard with your Dog Guard® of Wisconsin underground fence is great, but being cooped up all winter is no fun. Here are some ideas to get out and about this winter, whether your pet is an Olympic athlete, social hummingbird, snuggly buddy, or all of the above.

Snowy Outdoor Adventures for Active Dogs

Dog jumping in snow

Some dogs are born to plow through snow, while others won’t let cold weather slow them down. Wisconsin is a great place for winter sports and hiking year round, especially if you own a pair of snowshoes.

Madison Area

dog carrying stick in winter

Dane County is bursting with parks, and all they allow leashed dogs with a permit, with only a few exceptions. There are also numerous dog parks in the area designed exclusively for dogs, including seven off-leash parks where your dog is free to run.

Dog Parks in the Madison Area
  • Quann Off-Leash Dog Park (Madison)—This city park is conveniently located in the heart of Madison, between John Nolen Drive and Park St. It includes features such as a fenced field and a creek. Here’s a link to their website.
  • Capital Springs State Recreation Area (Madison)—This state recreation area has trails where you can hike, cross country ski, or snowshoe with your dog, as well as a whopping 27-acre dog park where your puppy can stretch her legs. If you have a small dog, he may enjoy the three-acre small dog area. Here’s a link to its page on the parks website.
  • Sycamore Park (Madison)—This park on the East side of Madison has an off-leash exercise area where your dog can play without having to leave the city. Here’s a link to its page on the City of Madison website.
  • Yahara Heights Pet Exercise Area (Waunakee)—This county park on the Lake Mendota watershed is next to the Cherokee Marsh, the largest wetland in Wisconsin. For a workout, go for a hike, or snowshoe on the designated trail. If your dog is getting restless, let them loose in the 20-acre pet exercise area for freestyle fun. Here’s a link to its page on the parks website.
  • Badger Prairie Dog Park (Verona)—This county park in nearby Verona features hiking trails with access to the Ice Age Trail and Military Ridge State Trail as well as a nine-acre dog park with an agility area. Here’s a link to its page on the parks website.
  • Prairie Moraine County Park (Verona)—A local favorite, not far from Badger Prairie County Park, this park spans 160 acres and features a moraine covered with restored oak savanna, as well as prairie land. The dog park contains trails and grassy mowed spaces as well as amenities for dog owners, such as disposal bags and places to sit. Here’s a link to its page on the parks website.  
  • Sun Prairie Pet Exercise Area (Sun Prairie)—This dog park in nearby Sun Prairie offers a fenced-in, off-leash exercise area with disposal bags available. Here’s a link to its page on the city’s website.

Rails to Trails Conservancy

Some dogs are more laid back. Like you, they enjoy getting some fresh winter air, but they’re not the type to pull a sled. If this sounds like your dog, check out this nation-wide network of converted railroad tracks on Traillink. They’re great for running on or walking with your dog.

Madison Area
  • Capital City State Trail (Madison)—This seventeen-mile urban trail provides a walking tour of the city, from the suburb of Fitchburg to Monona Terrace to Olbrich Gardens. Here’s a link to its page on Traillink.

Milwaukee Area

Dog running in cold weather

Like Madison, the greater Milwaukee area is full of dog parks to explore, on and off-leash. You can purchase a dog park pass to enjoy these parks all year. Dogs are also allowed on-leash on numerous nature trails in preserves, parkways, and parks.

Dog Parks in the Milwaukee Area
  • Currie Park Dog Park (Wauwatosa)—Next to a golf course, this park offers ten acres of fenced-in, off-leash space for your dog to roam, as well as a one-and-a- half-acre small dog area.
  • Estabrook Park Dog Park (Milwaukee)—For a quick breather, take your dog to this three-acre park near the Village of Shorewood. 
  • Warnimont Park Dog Park (Cudahy)—Take a walk in the woods in this fenced, five-acre dog park or relax in the small dog area.
  • Runway Dog Park (Oak Creek)—Let your dog loosen up in Milwaukee’s largest dog park. It features hiking trails, agility equipment, and a small dog area. Plus, it’s completely fenced!
  • Granville Dog Exercise Area (Milwaukee)—Any dog who enjoys running free in nature will enjoy this park. Its ten acres include highlights such as grassland, a river, and woods.
  • Roverwest Dog Park (Milwaukee)—This urban dog park is fully fenced and located in the Riverwest neighborhood.

For more information, visit Milwaukee County’s dog park page.

Milwaukee Area Trails

When you live in a large urban area, sometimes it’s hard to find big, undeveloped spaces to satisfy your craving for nature. That’s where hiking trails come in. In the Milwaukee County Parks system, dogs aren’t allowed on every trail, but they’re allowed on quite a few, including “soft trails” and at least one paved trail. 


  • Oak Leaf Trail (Milwaukee)—This lovely trail takes you all over the city of Milwaukee, from the metro to the stunning art museum and along the shores of Lake Michigan. Here’s a link to its page on Traillink.


  • Bender Park (Oak Creek)—This park offers hiking trails overlooking Lake Michigan featuring everything from woodlands and prairie to old orchard land.
  • Cudahy Nature Preserve (Oak Creek)—This state natural area offers a look back into Milwaukee’s past with beautiful hardwood and beech forests. 
  • Grobschmidt Park (Greenfield)—This park offers a variety of natural beauty, from meadows and forest to shrubland and a shallow lake.

Check out this Milwaukee Parks page for a complete list of trails.

Social Activities for Desk Dogs

dog riding in the car

Some dogs prefer to stay inside and leave the snow romping to Border Collies and Siberian Huskies, while others enjoy a break after their exercise. Here are a few activities and dog-friendly businesses near Madison and Milwaukee where you can sit down for a while or engage in retail therapy.

Madison Area

dog indoors


  • 2019 Jingle Bell Run (Verona)—Run for the Arthritis Foundation on December 14th, or cheer on your family and friends at this dog-friendly event. Here’s a link to their website.

Take Your Dog Shopping with You
  • Bad Dog Frida (Madison)—Out of kibble? Visit a Madison pet store dedicated to dogs. Here’s a link to their website.
  • MadCat (Madison)—Shop at this classic Madison pet store. Its focus may be on cats, but it has cool resources for dog owners too. Here’s a link to their website.
  • Zip-Dang (Madison)—Get out the house and go shopping! This funky store sells handcrafted products by artisans and is dog-friendly, with its own canine mascot who may greet you inside. Here’s a link to their facebook page.
  • ReThreads (Madison)—You and your dog can get thrifty at this dog-friendly resale shop. Here’s a link to their website.

Shop for Holiday Greenery with Your Dog
  • Hanns Christmas Farm (Oregon)—Shop for your Christmas tree with the whole family, including your dog. Here’s a link to their website.

Milwaukee Area

dog in restaurant

Check out this guide to pet-friendly Milwaukee.

  • Christkindlmarket (Milwaukee)—Take your dog along to this German-style Christmas Market in downtown Milwaukee, open from November 15th through December 24th. Shop holiday gifts or catch a live performance. Here’s a link to their website.

Sip a Brew at a Dog-Friendly Business
  • Black Husky Brewing Company (Milwaukee)—Chill out in this taproom with a beer in your hand and your dog at your feet. Here’s a link to their website.
  • The Highbury (Milwaukee)—Catch a game and a beer with your dog at this Milwaukee sports bar. Here’s a link to their website. 

Grab a Meal Out with Your Dog—Inside
  • Art*Bar (Riverwest)—Drop by this snazzy bar for a bite with your dog or catch an art exhibition. Here’s a link to their facebook page.
  • The Iron Horse Hotel (Milwaukee)—Drop by this restaurant at the Iron Horse Hotel with your dog for a hearty meal. Here’s a link to their website.
  • The Roman Coin (Milwaukee)—Head over to this classic corner bar with your dog. Here’s a link to their Facebook page.

For more info about dog friendly restaurants, check out this OnMilwaukee article.

Everyone at Dog Guard® of Wisconsin wishes you and your family a happy holiday season! Stay active all winter by checking out some of these spots with your dog.

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