It’s so cold. SO COLD. What do I do with my crazy dogs?
When I woke up this am it was -14C. I feel personally offended by this temperature. I grew up in Saskatchewan, so I am VERY familiar with cold weather and horrid winters. I remember waking up one morning on the farm I worked at on weekends and hearing the weather report “with the wind chill it is -55C today”…omg, can I stay in bed?
But now I live in Ontario. We have milder, shorter winters. It isn’t supposed to be -14C in late November. When you live with Dalmatians though, you brave the cold. In fact, perhaps I precipitated this drop in temperature by purchasing the spots fleecy “snoods” yesterday. Whoops. But at least their ears will be warm 😊. So, we bundled up and headed out for our walk, but it was less fun than usual.
I LOVE winter, as long as it isn’t too cold and there is a ton of snow. There are a lot of fun things you can do in winter to keep active with your pooch. There are also some things you can do to keep your pooch active when it is just too awful to be outside.
Cross-country skiing with some help from your pooch! If you are even slightly comfortable on skis, this can be an easy one to get into. You need a bit of gear: a harness/belt for you, a pulling harness for your pooch (I recommend an x-back harness, there are some great Canadian suppliers), bungee line to attach you together – then voila! Off you go! SO MUCH FUN. I am a mediocre skier at best, but have a lot of fun forging out with my dog.
If you are willing to invest in a bit more gear, kick-sledding is a great next step. An entry level kick-sled will run you around $250, though you can often find them used. Same harness as above, same bungee line (though I actually like a shorter line on the sled than I do on skis). Harness your pooch to the sled and off you go! Kick-sleds are cool because you can help your pooch a ton. Last year it was just Random and I, my 43 lb Dalmatian. So kick-sledding was a decent work out for both of us. I spent a lot of time either jogging behind, or kicking with one foot on (a la scootering) and very little time being pulled. The combo of me + sled was too heavy for Random other than short spurts. She LOVED it! This year her partner in crime, Hazzard, is old enough to start pulling his weight (and mine!). I am eagerly awaiting more snow and have visions of the two Spots pulling me along while I gracefully coast behind them. In reality it will probably involve them seeing a deer, me falling off and having to sprint after them. In a snowsuit. I will keep you posted.
My awesome husband surprised me with a fat bike (mountain bike with GIANT tires) for my Bday in October. It was been revolutionary to our biking! Upgrading from my second hand, clunky mountain bike to a slick fatbike has increased our speed and our ability to manage terrain. And fatbikes are also great in snow. BRING ON THE SNOW.
What if it is just too vile out?
One way to tire out dogs is to work their brains. Food puzzles are great. You can purchase ones with different compartments, or stuff a kong with food, or get a snuffle matt to hide kibble in.
Training for obedience or tricks can work their brain and get them moving.
Treadmills can be awesome for indoor exercise. Other than quite small dogs, please do not use human treadmills for your pooch. The footbed is not long enough and will shorten their stride. There are several brands of doggie treadmill which are quite affordable.
Winter can be fun if we get out and enjoy it, and most of the time our dogs are EAGER to get outside, despite the foul weather 😊.
Proceed with caution! Watch out for ice, you and your pooch can slip and hurt themselves. Beware of ice melt/salt products on the sidewalk/roads – this can be harmful to your pup’s feet. Boots may be in order, or wash their feet when you get home. Keep them cozy, if you are bundled up, your pooch might need to be, too. There are tons of great jackets and boots…and snoods.