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Many dog owners dread the onset of winter, with those darker nights and mornings making walking more hazardous, the drop in temperature that can make both dog and owner uncomfortable outside, and of course, the rain, sleet and even snow that can make winter exercise a challenge.
However, when the seasons turn cold and the weather becomes less hospitable, a whole new range of opportunities arise to have fun with your dog, and try out new activities that you might not even have considered!
Whilst getting cold and wet is no fun for most of us, proper planning, appropriate clothing and ensuring that you take care of your dog’s needs when out walking too can help you to make the most out of winter walkies, and avoid discomfort. Additionally, there are some advantages to the colder weather for dogs and owners as well – which might not have occurred to you. In this article, we will share five of the best ways to have fun and stay active with your dog in the winter, both at home and away. Read on to learn more.
The UK has many miles of beautiful beaches and coastlines – but not all of them permit dogs on the beach itself, and those that do usually have on-lead rules too. However, many areas who place restrictions on dogs on their beaches have different rules for the winter than they do during peak season. This means that many beaches that are off-limits to dog or that have on-lead rules during the summer may have different rules in the winter, when less people are around – making the wintertime an excellent time of year to try something new with your dog by visiting the seaside.
It is important to bear in mind that the sea itself will be cold in winter, even if the air temperature is mild – so stick to the shoreline and beach rather than encouraging your dog to swim, which may be risky. Also, take a supply of fresh water with you and wash and dry your dog thoroughly when you get home, to keep them safe and comfortable.
There are a wide range of winter sports and activities that dogs can get involved in, such as dog sledding, skijoring and much more. Whilst the basis of such sports is snow – which we don’t always get a lot of in the UK – most winter sporting dog clubs and organisations also have equipment and courses built to simulate snow or adapt the equipment and techniques to other weather, without losing the benefits.
Winter sports for dogs are especially appropriate for breeds that were designed to thrive in very cold weather – like the Siberian husky. However, any fit, healthy dog can have a go, so don’t rule it out!
Many dogs – and owners – tend to get a little lazy over the winter, as being outside and active is less appealing than normal, and our bodies naturally tend to slow down a little when the weather is cold. However, if you make a concerted effort, you can actually use the winter wisely to boost your dog’s fitness and endurance, and keep both of you mobile and active.
Exercising, training and working with a dog during the winter comes with different challenges to summer weather, and you do need to pay particular attention to ensuring that your dog does not slip or jar themselves with high-impact activities on hard or slippery ground.
The cooler winter weather also makes it important to warm up and cool down your dog and yourself properly – but also that your dog won’t get as hot, and so will be able to do more with less risk of overheating.
Doggy day care centres are becoming popular all over the country among dog owners looking to provide their dogs with company and stimulation during the day, and many doggy day care centres also offer play areas and sessions designed for dogs and owners together.
You may be able to hire or get a pass for an indoor play area to enjoy with your dog when the weather is awful and you need to exercise your dog without spending too long out in the elements, which is something that your dog is sure to enjoy and appreciate!
All dogs regardless of breed have heightened scenting abilities and a unique range of skills regarding tracking and sniffing things out. Scenting games are a great way to interact with your dog and keep them active and engaged at any time of the year – but the changing of the seasons and the different weather and conditions that we face in the winter allow you to step things up a notch!
High winds, heavy rain and snow will all affect scents, meaning that your dog will have to work harder and think more to keep track of what they are following – so winter provides a great chance to hone your dog’s scenting ability, and provide them with a new challenge that you will both enjoy.
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