IMG_1441This week, my sister sent me photos of her deck and front yard.  When I received the photo of her snow covered home, all I could think about was how grateful I am to live in Southern California. Believe me, I am fully aware that I “pay for this weather”.  However, having less disposable income in favor of 85 degree weather is quite palatable. While looking at the photos from my sister, I was sitting outside in a lounge chair, wearing a tank top and throwing a ball for BOLO while reading my current favorite book,  I suddenly wondered how people from the midwest and northeast handle their dog walking in this kind of weather.happy bolo with ball 1

This is something I never seriously considered.  I treasure my daily walks with the dogs and am able to take BOLO and Henry on hikes, to the beach, walk around town  all year round. What about the dog owners that are snowed in each year? How is it that they and their dogs bond and get exercise in the winter?

After heavily researching this subject and possible solutions for those active dogs, I have listed some winter challenges and how to overcome for the dog lovers in snowy states.

quincy in winter coatDog owners face multiple challenges when it comes to exercising with their dogs each winter. Some breeds have thinner coats than others and are unable to be out in the cold for long periods of time without getting frostbite. Another issue is that road salts tend to irritate the dog’s paws and when the dog cleans itself off, the salts affect the dogs stomach making them sick as well as causing other health issues. Lastly, owners have to keep a closer eye on their pets in the winter. With the harsh weather conditions, winter peaks at the highest rated season of dog loss.

Despite all of these issues, there are ways to prevent your dog from getting sick outdoors, or indoor alternatives for those dogs that would rather bundle up and stay warm. If your dog loves the outdoors as much as BOLO, I know there is no getting around those morning walks. If this is the case, prep the paws with protective balm before going outdoors, or purchase dog booties to protect them from ice patches and rough snow. Also, keep your dog from licking it’s paws. This will save them from bacteria and potential infection brought to the surface of the roads from the snow.

 Some fun indoor alternatives for your dog, that will not only allow for exercise, but strengthen your dog-human bond, include setting up an obstacle course throughout the home offering treats along the way, and playing fetch up and down the staircase or down a hallway (for single story homes).  You can also train your dog to walk on a treadmill. Yes, you read correctly…a treadmill for dogs.  I am most impressed with the extensive line of products offered by DogTread and their commitment to excellence in product research and development.  What a great opportunity to ensure your dog stays fit, healthy, lives longer.  Consider exercising along side your dog so you will both be ready for the warm weather activity once winter thaws.

To provide stimulation for those dogs that are going stir crazy, introduce a mental challenge by setting up a treat scavenger hunt throughout the home and help them find their way to a treat they don’t receive too often.

There are a number of fantastic doggie daycare facilities where caring and trained individuals can help keep your dog active all day long.  During the winter months or busy times, it may be worth the investment to guarantee your dog has opportunity to socialize, play, and stay active.

Living in Southern California, I feel very fortunate to have warm weather all year round to keep Bolo and Henry entertained and active. But no matter where you live, snow or shine, it is important to remember that there are endless opportunities to get active with your dog. You should Never Walk Alone, but if you can’t get out to do it….put on some music and get a little crazy.henry and gila dancing