Dog Days of Winter
Crispy cold mornings, with a hint of snow, are a favorite time for dogs. Their undercoats begin to thicken, their energy increases, and they seem filled with the anticipation of exciting winter activities. For dogs and their humans, winter can be cold but does not have to be dull or boring. Winter offers many opportunities to explore meadows, woodlands, and wetlands which during the rest of the year are inaccessible due to water and dense foliage.
In Northern British Columbia we are surrounded by incredible wilderness areas. Walk your dog, search out new trails and meadows. Watch them use their amazing sense of smell to explore their environment. Throw a ball into tall grass and encourage your dog to use their sense of smell to close in and find it. Celebrate their success with them and they will enthusiastically play with you.
Ask your dog to sit quietly with you beside a frozen pond or clearing, and delight in the scents and silence which surround you. This quiet time together will help them to bond with you. They will learn that it is more fun to be with you than running wild on their own.
As winter progresses and snow fills the meadows and the ice covers the ponds, wonderful new activities present themselves. Snow shoeing and cross-country skiing provide excellent exercise for your dog. Take a long leash and a harness and teach your dog to skijor. They will enjoy pulling you along the ski trails!
Get your dog to carry a backpack with a thermos filled with hot chocolate. Give your dog a job to do -- make them feel like they are contributing to the pack. Your children will love the experience, and your dog will love it too.
Always ensure your dog is safe. Check their paws regularly to remove ice which can build and rub between their toes. Deep snow can place extreme stress on their hips and joints, so be mindful of the distance you travel. Puppies, of course, need much less exercise than older dogs, so their outdoor adventures can be frequent but should be short in duration.
Be respectful of others who share your surroundings. When hikers or skiers approach, have your dog down or sit beside you. Even if your dog is friendly, theirs may nervous. Allow their experience to be as pleasant and as peaceful as yours. This winter get active and have fun with your dog!Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists