Brrrrr – It’s cold outside. All you can think of is staying under the covers where it is warm. Then you see those soulful eyes of your yellow lab pleading for you to get up and go for a walk. Alright, but first coffee. Coffee consumed, you dress for the chilly weather, cursing to yourself – why didn’t I get a cat. Venturing outside, the cold air hits you like a hammer. You don’t care cause you’re now up for the adventure.
Walking with your dog in the winter provides benefits for both your dog and you. Not only do you both get the exercise you need, but it releases endorphins, a sense of happiness washes over both of you. However, the cold weather does present extra challenges.
Consider the temperature. You: layer up, cover up, sunglasses on, sturdy hiking shoes/boots tied snuggly and you are ready. Best friend needs to dress for the weather also. Depending on the breed, they can only tolerate a certain temperature Dogs and weather. A coat for your pooch and Yes even boots, may be necessary.
Consider the conditions. Think of replicating the moves of a penguin – walk with your arms at your side, not in your pocket or texting. Know your route, will it be icy? Walking on dirt paths may be preferable but watch out for slippery leaves. Your four-legged friend may be able to navigate the leaf covered path, but that’s him-not you. Walk flat footed with short steps and concentrate on maintaining your balance. If you walk in the evening, make sure you have a flash light and reflective items.
Keep your dog leashed. Yes, it is tempting to allow your dog to romp in the cold weather and snow, but it presents hidden dangers. Walking by a frozen lake or a pond your dog may be tempted to go skating. I don’t think I need to elaborate on what can happen. Actually, any season, keeping your dog leashed (unless you know the area well and it is an approved off-leash area) keeps him/her safe by preventing them from eating things they shouldn’t, getting tangled in fencing, confronting other animals-wild and domestic… Only takes a minute for an accident to happen.
One hour of exercise a day is usually enough for most dogs and you. It is important to monitor his and your exertion, like you breathing in cold air can cause lung damage to your dog.
When coming home check the paws. Some dog paws are like our skin where the weather makes them dry and cracked. There are special balms made for dogs to put on their paws. If you are walking where sidewalks might be treated with de-icing products, make sure your dog doesn’t lick it and thoroughly wash their paws once inside.
A walking routine is important all year long for both man and beast. During the winter, your extra motivation to get moving is the waiting canine by your side.
Have a great walk everyone and remember to stay safe!
Scout, the yellow lab