As the remains of summer and autumn fade away, the UK becomes a winter wonderland for our canine friends. We love it even when it’s frosty outside, even when it’s raining cats and dogs! However, we know that for many of us, winter dog walking can be daunting and unappealing for both you and your canine companion, but it’s still important to get them out so they can stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Whether your dog enjoys winter walks or becomes lazier in nippy weather, it’s useful to know the best ways to make sure they get the required amount of daily exercise and maybe you both can start to enjoy your colder walks!
Bring activities indoors
If it’s too cold to spend much time outdoors, bring their activities inside! You can find instructional videos online for agility workouts to do indoors which will keep your dog’s joints and muscles in top shape. Alternatively, playing fetch with your dog on the stairs or creating a treasure hunt game with their favourite treat will have them using up some energy at home. Incorporating activities into your dog’s routine doesn’t just maintain their weight, it’s also great for their mental health and wellbeing too.
Protect the paws!
Dogs have very sensitive feet, and extreme temperatures can cause them sever discomfort or even injury. Slather some petroleum jelly on their delicate feet to create a protecting layer. This will keep them insulated from the cold, salt or de-icing grains on the ground. Just remember to wipe it off before coming back inside, unless you want to recreate a slippery ice rink indoors!
Get reflective accessories for dark walks
Winter dog walking most often takes place after dark due to the shorter days so it is important to keep you and your pup safe during walkies. You can get reflective vests for dogs so that they can be seen more easily in the night or you can even get an LED collar for them. There's also a range of reflective collar accessories available, including our Leather Flowers which are made with reflective fabric strips. Not only will these keep your dog visible to drivers and other pedestrians but it’ll help you find them if they wander off.
Invest in a Winter jumper
Dogs with double coats like Huskies and Golden Retrievers cope better in cold weather, while shorthaired breeds and dogs with a higher percentage of lean body tissue could benefit from an extra layer. Keep breeds such as poodles or greyhounds warmer during cold weather dog walking with a wool or quilted jacket. Make sure you stay aware of any changes in the weather while on your walk. You don’t want your pup overheating if the sun suddenly comes out. We recommend our colourful Dog Jumpers which are made from 100% super soft cotton. And the best part? They're machine washable!
Pick the right gear
We know some hounds find us humans super slow and like pulling us along. During winter though this can be trickier to tame and it can make the walk an unpleasant experience for all involved. A harness or a hands-free lead provide extra support and a better grip to cushion the pull and keep your exploring buddy and yourself safe, away from nasty falls and slippery slopes.
Skip the salt
As the thermometer hits below or near zero temperatures, the ground and pavement start freezing. That’s when the salt grains or other anti-freezing substances start being spread all around walking surfaces to avoid slipping and nasty falls. It is very helpful for us, but it can be harmful for animals if ingested. So keep your eyes peeled and pull your canine away from affected areas. If you think they have ingested something they shouldn't have, contact your vet immediately.
Take extra care of older dogs
If you’re the owner of an elderly dog or a dog with arthritis, spending too much time in cold weather won’t be enjoyable for them. Take extra care in cold or damp weather by going on shorter, more frequent walks and avoiding steep hills or too many steps. You should also avoid walks in the rain if you can as this can cause a lot of pain for senior pups.
Walks are often the highlight of your dog’s day, so don’t let chilly weather get in the way. Take a few extra precautions and keep active, happy and healthy over winter. Remember, you know your dog best so always be sure to monitor their behaviour and consult your vet if you are unsure about anything.