Surviving Dreary Days of Winter

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I don’t know about you, but this relentless rain, and these chilling temperatures are enough to drive me back to the warmth of my down comforter.  But my pup?  Not so much.  No siree, she is rearing to go.  If I so much as look in the direction of my tennis shoes, she is at the back door, panting, whining, and pacing.  What’s a good dog mom to do?  I lace up, snap on the leash, put on a hat, and head out the door for a winter walk.  No, that’s not right.  My husband does all of the above.

But this morning, as I was returning from the gym, he sent me this text:

How do you tell a dog that you just put a leash on that it is now raining?

He thought he could squeeze in a walk, between raindrops, but by the time our dog was leashed up and ready to go, the bottom had dropped out and it was pouring.  He waited an hour, and when the rain was lighter (but it was still freezing), he bundled up and headed out for a long walk. 

This is the time of the year when it is libel to start.  The obnoxious, destructive behavior that comes along with cabin fever.  Speaking of texts, my sister’s and my text stream last night looked a little like this:

Sister: Harley just destroyed our sofa.

Me: Oh, I’m so sorry.  If it makes you feel any better, Hattie just finished Jonah’s dinner while he was in the bathroom.  Chicken skewer sticks and all.

Ugh.  Luckily, Harley lived to see today and Hattie didn’t have any trouble “passing” the wooden sticks that she devoured along with my son’s chicken.  But, we could’ve had a different outcome. 

Exercising in winter

So, how do we survive these cold winter months, when our dogs can’t get outside for their regular exercise?  I have three tips to share with you that will hopefully help you weather this winter.

  1. Bundle up and brave the cold.  Honestly, it’ll be invigorating for you and your dog!  Tonight at dinner, my husband told me how thankful he is that Hattie needed a walk so badly today because he was feeling stir-crazy and needed to get out of the house, himself!  As long as it is not so dangerously cold that being outside for an extended period of time may cause frostbite, it is perfectly ok to bundle yourself and your dog up and head outdoors.  Go ahead, put on a hat, gloves, scarf, and heavy coat, and maybe even invest in a sweater for your dog. Even a short walk is better than no walk at all. 
  2. Play a game.  Dogs love hide and seek just as much as little kids.  We used to play hide and seek with our golden all the time when we lived in an apartment where there was no backyard for her to run around.  One of my favorite places to hide?  In the shower with the curtain closed.  She’d go crazy hearing my voice but not being able to see me, and finally nosing open the curtain to find me hiding inside.   Another fun game is to sit in plain site with an old towel over your head.  Let your dog try to get to you by pulling the towel off.  Being silly with your pooch is often enough to stimulate him mentally and get the wiggles out at the same time
  3. Train indoors. Take some time to get your dog back up to speed on some basic training cues, or add some advanced tricks to your repertoire. Consider your options for dog-friendy indoor workouts that will wear your dog out mentally and physically such as indoor swimming, 
  4. Take your dog for a ride.  A simple car ride may be a good distraction from the monotony of being cooped up inside.  Also, many stores allow dogs, and a change of scenery can be good for everyone.  Take your dog to the pet store and let him pick out a new toy, or let him tag along to the hardware store (most of them allow dogs) so he can get a little extra attention.  The employees often enjoy the opportunity to take a break from their work and give your pet a little love, too.

Keep your dog active and engaged!

It’s important to keep your dog active and engaged when the weather gets dreary and cold. A dog who has too much energry and is trapped inside may release that energy in negative and destructive ways. Pet insurance can help keep you covered if your pup gets into trouble over the winter that results in unexpected veterinary bills. Our tips can help you keep your pooch in shape and out of trouble when Old Man Winter comes around! 

Share the Greatness