With The Beast from The East and Storm Emma (sorry, not sorry) set to pound at our shores, I thought to write a few tips about safely walking your dog in these conditions and some fun ways to occupy them if you choose to stay indoors. These extreme weather patterns occur few and far between but it pays to have a plan in place. Your own safety is paramount in these instances, suffering from hypothermia, getting injured or hazardous driving conditions are not worth risking.
- Let someone know you’ve gone out, where you’ve gone and what time you’ll be back. If driving make sure you are equipped for winter conditions i.e. blanket, gloves, thermos, shovel.
- If you get caught out in a flurry or blizzard of snow, make sure your dog is put on a lead. Snow can be very disorientating for both you and your pooch.
- Don’t let dogs wander onto frozen ponds or lakes as you cannot judge the thickness of the ice. If your dog does fall in, do not be tempted to go after them! Encourage them to swim to you or call the emergency services.
- Never leave your dog in the car for extended periods during cold snaps.
- Dogs can get frost bite on their feet, so be careful how long they spend in the snow and freezing surfaces. You can buy a pad wax to help protect their paws or invest in some dog boots.
- Thoroughly wipe down your dogs paws, legs and underbelly after being out as grit from road gritting is an irritant and can contain antifreeze that is poisonous if ingested.
- Once home, let the dog come back up to temperature slowly and avoid hot water when bathing them.
- Enjoy a good game of tug or chase in the house with one of your dog’s toys. If you’ve not played tug with your dog before this comprehensive guide will tell you how. You can replace the clicker for a verbal ‘yes’ instead! https://clickertraining.com/node/1355
- Use food toys with their daily allowance of food so your dog works to earn his dinner and gets worn out in the process. Stuffed Kongs are a great starter but if you don’t have these to had then you can make some homemade ones!
- Scatter their kibble or treats onto a tea towel then roll it up for your dog to work out. Get a muffin tin and put some food in the indentations then place tennis balls on top. If you have wet food, smear it inside a plant pot for them to lick out or use an ice tray to smear it in and lave them lick it out.
- Teach your dog ‘find it’ and scatter their food about in hidden places in a room and send you dog in to hunt for their dinner. Check out this neat guide for tips on ‘find it’ games. www.puppyleaks.com/teach-your-dog-search/
- There are many great ideas to be had on the Canine Enrichment Facebook group. www.facebook.com/groups/canineenrichment/
- Do some training with your dog! Nothing beats a good ol’ engaging training session working on whatever tricks or commands you fancy. There is a cornucopia of Youtube tutorials out there for all sorts of tricks!
Stay safe and warm, everyone!