Winter is here. Wherever you live, the days are shorter and a bit cooler. You might be dealing with 10 centimeters of fresh snow, a steady downpour of rain or some less than sunny days – regardless of the weather change, it does have a big impact on your dog.
Your dog’s health and happiness should not suffer with the changing seasons and crisp weather. While it’s tempting to hibernate indoors and wait for the sun to come out again, your dog needs her daily exercise. This time outside walking, running, sniffing around and looking for the perfect stick is critical to your dog’s joint health and emotional well-being.
To help you and your dog get through the winter months happy and healthy, we’ve compiled our most popular winter dog tips into one blog post. Of course, we do want to hear from you. Visit the Leaps & Bounds Facebook community page and share your top winter dog tips with us. Tell us how you keep your dog healthy, happy, and eager to get outside when the weather is less than welcoming.
How to Make the Most of Winter with Your Dog
There is nothing wrong with going on your usual morning and evening dog walks during the winter, but how about spicing things up with some new winter dog activities. Take a look at our suggestions and get outdoors to truly enjoy the best of the winter months.
- Take a hike: get off the windy sidewalks and find shelter from the wind in the woods. The trees and will keep you protected from the winter wind and your dog will have a blast exploring a new area. Look for local hiking areas and greenspaces that are dog friendly and aren’t overcrowded with cross-country skiers or fat bikers.
- Skijoring: there is nothing quite like enjoy the skis with your dog. Check with your vet first, and once you get the okay, hit up the local ski trails with your dog. Learn more about skijoring on the Skijoring USA website.
- Dog park fun: your dog is a pack animal and he needs the company of other dogs. The dog park is an ideal way to let your dog play with other dogs and to burn off some energy. This time spent with other dogs is critical to preventing depression and boredom in your dog. To help you stay warm while your dog is dashing around with his pals, remember to bring a thermos full of hot chocolate.
How do you make the most of the winter months with your dog? Tag us in your Instagram photos of you and your dog enjoying the outdoors.
Top Tips for Safe Winter Dog Walking
Shorter days, icy sidewalks, pouring rain, and piles of snow can make your winter dog walks a bit of a challenge. When getting ready for your dog walks, keep these safe winter dog walking tips in mind.
- Light up and be bright: your morning and evening dog walks are in the dark. This means it’s hard for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and other dog walkers to see you. The brighter you and your dog are – the better. Put a light on your dog’s collar, use a leash that has blinking lights, wear a reflective vest over your coat, and carry a flashlight. Not only will you see better, but you’ll be easy to spot. Above all else, don’t assume that others can see you – be alert at all times when crossing intersections, driveways, and the street.
- Use the leash: yes, your dog is well-trained and can be trusted to walk off leash. But your dog (like every other dog) is easily distracted by new smells, squirrels, and other dogs. Choose a leash that is comfortable for your dog and is easy for you to control. You want to keep your dog safe from running into the street or from walking into an area that is not safe for his tender paws.
- Dress for the weather: this means both you and your dog need to be ready for the winter weather. Invest in a quality dog coat that suits the climate you’re in. If your streets are treated with salt or are covered in ice and snow – make sure you protect your dog’s tender paws. There are lots of boots available that can give your dog both traction and protection from the elements. When it’s quite cold or incredibly wet, it’s okay to shorten your dog walk. Pay attention to shivering and if your dog simply stops walking, this is a sign that it’s time to head home.
When you get in from your walk, dry your dog off and check his paws for any clumps of ice or snow. If you do notice any cracks or sores in your dog’s paws or on his skin, take your dog to the vet for treatment.
If you have a senior dog, you might want to buy a heated dog bed for your dog to relax in after your winter walks. The heat will ease any dog joint discomfort and be a welcome place to nap after a run in the dog park.
Make the most of the winter this year with your dog. Who knows, you just might discover a new favorite place to walk or your dog might be a natural at skijoring. And yes, if it’s sideways snow or freezing rain – it’s okay to stay in and cuddle up in front of the fireplace. Here’s to a happy and healthy winter with your dog.