Winter Wonderland: Tips For Walking Your Dog In Cold Weather
When you have a dog and Jack Frost blows through town, he's nipping not just at your pup's nose, but at his paws and tail and ears! It can be unpleasant for you dog, but walking him is one chore you can't really work around when the weather gets unbearable. But it doesn't have to be all bad. Here are 5 tips to make walking your dog in cold weather fun.
As humans, we have different types of clothes for different types of weather -- shorts and tank tops in the summer and coats and NFL gloves in the winter -- but dogs wear the same coat year-round! But even they need a little extra protection from cold weather. Make sure they have a sweater or coat to add a layer of insulation when they face the merciless winter weather. And don't forget their paws! Snow and ice can be brutal on their delicate pads.
Fetch is the go-to game in any situation involving a dog, but in the winter, it may be the great motivator. Chasing balls sets off a dog's instinct to hunt -- and nothing can stop them from finding that ball and gripping it in their jaws, not even snow. With just a toss of the ball, a dog forgets that the ground is unpleasantly cold, that they are wet and that they may not see sunshine for the next four months. And, of course, the chase is much more than just thrilling, it gets their bodies moving and their blood pumping.
Remember that, like humans, very young dogs and old dogs are more sensitive to the cold than middle-aged dogs. If you have a senior dog, limit the time he spends outdoors. As they age, their energy dwindles so you don't have to worry about them tearing up the house if they don't get outdoor time. For younger dogs, you have to come up with some ideas for indoor play to keep them busy.
Your pup may not want to venture out in the cold, but if your dog doesn't get rid of his extra energy outside, it's possible that he'll try to do it inside -- and it might not be a positive release of energy. This is when you have get proactive with your pup. Play a game with him -- one that requires a lot of cardio to warm him up so he forgets the temperature is below freezing. If you have kids, you can make a family activity of sledding (on a gentle slope) or building a snow maze for your dog to explore. If you want to make it interesting, make an obstacle course using only snow to build it.
There's not much dogs like more than food in any form. If you're having trouble getting Fido out the door for fresh and frigid air, rewarding his first step outside with a tasty nosh may do the trick. A treat also turns fetch into a more interesting treasure hunt because dogs rely on their noses to find things. While we use our eyes to find things, our dogs' sense of smell is intense. Humans only have millions of scent receptors while dogs have hundreds of millions of scent receptors. So if a you toss out a tasty snack into the winter wonderland and it's buried in an insurmountable pile of snow, your dog can still find it with the power of his nostrils and the motivation of his insatiable appetite.