Rain or shine, our dogs need their exercise – many will even appear to be very down in the dumps if they miss out, and most will become more than a little hyperactive, bouncing off the walls of the living room, or presenting countless tennis balls and his lead as a hint. The daily (or twice daily, or thrice daily…) walk is just one of the many commitments we make when we decide to take on a dog, and while we may not be overly keen on the cold, wet or windy weather, to our dogs, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. What can we do to make winter dog walking less of a chore?
Get comfy whilst dog walking
Firstly, make sure you’re as warm and comfortable as possible:
- Warm, showerproof and breathable lightweight coat with Gortex (or similar) lining, as a traditional winter coat will have you sweating within minutes. The Keela range of coats are very good
- A hat and scarf – following the principles of layering, these can easily be removed as you warm up.
- Gloves – fingerless are handy for fiddling with the lead or a poo bag, but if it’s just too cold for that, thin sports ones should do the job (or you could wear both
- Sturdy, waterproof shoes or boots with a good grip. Again Gortex lined boots are good or you can get some very good neoprene lined wellingtons for very mucky days (you are looking at paying around £100 for boots or wellingtons – Remember it is important to look after your feet) – if you take care of your boots they will last for a long time
- Don’t forget your dog may really feel the cold, too – smaller, thin-skinned and short-haired breeds won’t enjoy it at all, so get a suitable and unrestrictive coat. Equafleece coats are very good for dogs of all sizes
- Snow, ice and grit can all cause problems for a dog’s feet – petroleum jelly can help prevent that.
Take care when winter dog walking
Remember, it’s not just the discomfort of the cold that can be an issue – you’ll need to take extra care while out and about, too:
- If you’re walking in the evening, it gets dark early, so invest in some high visibility or LED gear for you and your dog, and keep a small torch in your pocket
- Make sure you have a fully charged phone in case of Emergencies and contact numbers – you may also want to read Your Safety Whilst Out and About – Paws for thought
- Don’t allow your dog to pull – if it’s slippery, this could be lethal. There’s no substitute for training, but a gentle anti-pull harness should have an immediate effect and can help reinforce what you teach him – Tip Top Dog School run loose lead workshops
Have some designated dog towels waiting at home, and get him dried off straight away. Hopefully, your waterproof coat and sturdy boots will have saved you from the worst of it.
Come on, let’s get out there! Wrap up warm – you may even enjoy it. If not, well, I’ll be happy to help!