The season is changing and not every pup appreciates the cold weather. As a dog owner, you must know that just like people, they all have their own preferences and personalities. It’s no surprise that many short haired dogs aren’t as keen on the snow, as that of their long-haired counterparts.
Whether you decide to venture out into the cold, or are looking for ways to entertain your dog during the downtime, there are a variety of ways in which to keep them engaged and happy.
Prepping for Play in Cold Weather
Your dog won’t be up for playing if they are incredibly uncomfortable. Prior to exposing them to the cold—just like a human—they may need some extra protection. Pet safety in cold weather is important, and winter wellness will encourage your pet to get out in the cold more often to play.
There are many factors that contribute to how quickly a dog gets cold in winter weather. In addition to their coat, body fat, age, and genetics can also play a role. If your dog is shivering when they are outside for a short amount of time, chances are they will need an extra coat for protection.
You should always buy more than one sweater or coat, as they will get wet with play. Additionally, some pet owners use booties on their dog’s feet. If you choose to go this route, make sure they fit properly and have some slip resistance.
Games and Activities
Encouraging your dog to get out into the cold weather may take a little coaxing. Injecting fun into the activity can take their mind off of the temperature, and allow them to get the exercise they need. The following are a few ideas for how to play with your pup in the great outdoors:
Go to your local pet store and a grab a few new toys. You can use them, along with other clever items from your yard, to create different exercises your dog can perform—essentially forming a mini-obstacle course for them to tackle.
There are many videos online of people doing this in a variety of creative ways. Your pup will be enticed by the thought of exploring the new items, which can take their mind off of the cold. You may also need to bring treats along for motivation.
Just like babies, dogs also love when you disappear into thin air. Toss something to your dog in the yard and when they are distracted, run and hide. They will be infinitely intrigued trying to understand where exactly their master went, as they chase you in circles around the car!
Share in the Fun
It makes no sense to go to the gym, only to come home and neglect your dog. Why not choose to share your activities with them? In addition to simply jogging outside, dogs can join you on other winter adventures, like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Dogs always enjoy a good snowball fight too.
Additionally, you can try out a new sport that involves your dog. Skijoring is the downplayed version of dogsledding, and only requires your dog to pull you on a set of skis. As with any activity that involves a dog pulling you, be sure you are equipped with the right leash and harness to avoid straining your pup.
Change of Scenery
It may take a different location to get your furry friend excited about playing outdoors. Find out where your local dog park or run is, and take them there if it is close. You may also want to consider any open space in general that is away from their familiar surroundings. Just makes sure you leash them if it is not an enclosed area.
Grab A friend
Many dogs may be motivated by other dogs and/or people. The cold weather is always more exciting with a friend. If you have a pal that also has a pup, and they get along, consider setting a play date. This is particularly helpful for dogs that are shying away from going outdoors. If they see another playmate out and about, they are much more likely to follow the leader and enjoy themselves.
Hire a Professional
Sometimes it may take hiring a pet care professional to get the job done. If you are busy during the day, but you want your pup to get out of the house, you may want to consider the services of a professional to pet sit and walk your dog. This way you can ensure they are enjoying the cold weather, during the warmest parts of the day.
Some pets simply may not enjoy going outside during the cold weather at all, but they still need exercise and stimulation. There are plenty of activities to do with your dog during the winter weather that will keep them on their toes.
If you are absolutely caught indoors during the weather, you can help your dog practice being a better detective. Nose work involves strengthening the power of your dog’s sense of smell. The game starts by hiding treats within a close radius, and then slowly expanding the distance until you are hiding them throughout the house.
Your dog will enjoy literally sniffing out the clues, all the while getting a decent amount of exercise indoors. Additionally, the activity builds both focus and confidence in your pup. Eventually, you can introduce target odors and teach your dog valuable competition skills.
The Fetching Robot
Having a dog is a big responsibility and keeping them engaged requires a lot of work. Since we live in the age of technology, some of this responsibility can actually be shouldered by technology itself.
There are a variety of models on the market, but the essential idea behind a self-fetching robot is that your dog can actually play with themselves. The technology works much like that of a tennis ball machine. It shoots the ball out of a bottom tube, and your dog can return it through a funnel on the top. If your dog is particularly rambunctious, this is an activity that can keep him entertained for hours.
Indoor Training Class
There are a variety of different classes you can bring your pet to that will allow them to get the exercise they need, all the while indoors. Most facilities are climate controlled, so you do not have to worry about your pup being cold. Some classes train for sport, while others simply engage the dogs in fun activities.
Prior to attending a class, make sure the instructor is certified and has reliable references. You should always attend the class with your dog, so they can remain comfortable and enjoy the activity. Try and find a trainer that uses positive reward-based training, so your dog can truly enjoy themselves—and not feel as if they’re doing work.
It is critical that if you do bring your dog outside, you make sure to watch them closely and keep them safe. The following are some things to be cognizant of while romping in the snow:
Avoid ice: When walking your dog outside, avoid any lakes, ponds, or patches of thick ice. There is no way of knowing if it can support your dog’s weight, and it is a risk you do not want to take.
Recognize Issues: If your dog is shivering or whining excessively, it is time to go inside. Just like humans, every dog has a different threshold for feeling cold. If they appear to be miserable, there is no point in playing outside any longer.
Wipe Down: During the winter, there are a lot of chemicals on the ground. From road salt to antifreeze, your dog’s fur can pick it all up. It is important to wipe down your pup after outside play, to rid their fur of the toxic chemicals. It may even be a good idea to give them a bath if the road is particularly salted.
Dogs are not immune to cold weather, simply because they are born with coats. There are hundreds of species of dogs that hail from all over the world, and each adapts to the weather differently.
Some key factors, however, are constant. Short-haired dogs are usually going to need a coat. All dogs need to be wiped down post cold-weather play, and every dog should have a chance to experience the cold weather. Being a responsible dog owner means engaging your animal in all forms of climate conditions, and making sure they are comfortable at all times. Contact Local Paw Pals for more information.