Put Some Fun into Winter Dog Walks
First things first
Put some fun into winter dog walks but make sure you stay safe! Both you and your dog should wear some reflective/hi viz clothing when walking during the winter so that other road users can see both of you clearly. When walking off road, other dog walkers will be able to see you from a distance and be able to ensure their dog is under control before you encounter each other.
A reflective or flashing collar and reflective dog coat will make sure that you can see your dog at all times. You may wish to consider using a GPS pet tracker. If your dog has a tendency to wander away from you, using a long line will enable you to have control without restricting your dog’s need to explore and investigate during your walks.
Keep warm and dry on winter dog walks
It's hard to have fun on winter dog walks if you are feeling cold and wet! You will instinctively wrap up in warm and waterproof clothes but what about your dog? Dogs with short coats and thin skin such as whippets are very susceptible to the cold so a warm and waterproof jacket will make sure that your dog is warm and dry and can enjoy being outside. You might find it beneficial to avoid walking your dog in the coldest part of the day.
Don’t let you dog jump into cold water: the shock to the body could be catastrophic and it goes without saying the dangers of walking on frozen ponds. Grit salt can irritate your dog’s paws as it contains antifreeze so don’t let your dog lick his paws. After a walk, wash and dry your dog’s paws to make sure there is no residue of grit salt.
Indoor games when winter dog walks aren't possible
If the weather is really terrible, then fun indoor games and activities are good ways to entertain both you and your dog. They provide stimulation and help to maintain mental and physical wellbeing. However, they are not a replacement for exciting outdoor walks. Your dog needs to sniff and explore outside as well as interact with other dogs.
Your winter walks may be shorter than normal so make sure that when your dog is at home he has plenty of activities to keep him occupied. Chewing is a very important activity for dogs, so provide an array of chew toys as well as some problem solving, activity toys.
We often don’t remember to play games with our dogs when out walking but winter is the ideal time to introduce different activities. Your dog can enjoy lots of fun on a winter dog walk with a simple game of tug of war. You can also start playing retrieve games using different toys and articles (but not sticks as these can cause serious injury to your dog’s mouth and throat).
Hide and seek is a really good game to play when the family are out together. If you are walking alone you could hide a toy or scatter some food and then encourage your dog to search for it.
Brush up on your recall, make it exciting for you dog to come back to you. As your dog comes back, throw a toy for him or run in the opposite direction. Vary what reward your dog gets for coming back.
Brush up on your obedience training, introduce some halts, sits and downs as you walk along. This will keep both of you mentally stimulated as well as improving your dog’s responses. Think of a trick you could train your dog to do whilst out on a walk, it could be a ‘high five’, give a paw, roll over, speak. This list is endless.
If you are able to walk in the woods you can find different obstacles, such as fallen trees, for your dog to jump over. Or stones to practice a ‘sit stay’ on. Be inventive - but make sure whatever you do is safe!
Variety is the spice of life! So, make sure you vary your winter dog walks! Different walks and /or routes will ensure that both you and your dog see and encounter new sights, smells and terrain for added fun and excitement during winter outings.
There is no substitute for social interaction with other canine friends. Provided your dog is sociable with other dogs try arranging some doggy play sessions with your dog walking friends. Meet up in different places and then you can always go for a coffee or lunch at a dog friendly café, abiding by all the current Covid restrictions!!
Do you need further advice?
If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.