Winter Woes? Here’s our Alternative Pros

by Angus Healy // December 2017

Winter Woes? Here’s our Alternative Pros

As the final leaves fall from the trees, and a crisp morning air becomes more of a certainty than a shock, it is safe to say that Winter is steadily approaching. With its arrival, the coldest of seasons also brings with it the blackest of nights, which are greeting us sooner with each passing day, and with so many of us going to and from work in the dark, the idea of walking your canine companions in the light seems like a distant dream.

For the lucky among us, your dog may be completely unfazed by the dark and dreary weather, bounding to the door at the prospect of a good run, but many of us may find in these times that there is a sheer reluctance to go out (and we don’t blame them…!)

For those of us with these kinds of dogs, getting them out in the dreary weather can require a little more encouragement than usual. Some of them just need a nudge and then end up really enjoying the walk – great! However if your dog seems really keen to remain indoors in the warm then that’s fine! Walks are an absolute must as we all know but there are inevitably occasions where staying inside in the light and warm is a better option.

However, while the need for a walk in the dark, cold, rainy night may not be the most viable option, the need to exercise your dog remains paramount, otherwise you may have a bundle of boundless energy on your hands.

Lots of people don’t realise, but mental stimulation and doggy brain games are an excellent way to burn loads of energy, with a plethora of options to choose from. Puzzle games, snuffle mats, scent games or even just playing with your dog’s favourite toy are just a few of the many options available!

Bud and Dexter working hard with some exciting enrichment games.

As the above pictures perfectly capture, using food as an enrichment tool can work wonders in engaging your pooch. Use part of their dinner for the enrichment if you worry about over-feeding, and most dogs actually prefer working for their food!

If you don’t have any immediately on hand, there’s plenty of room for improvisation! Putting food in cardboard boxes, plastic milk bottles, or anything of a similar vein can make for some excellent enrichment tools.

Frank and Stevie getting stuck into some box enrichment

Although they can be great enrichment, your dog may not be entirely aware of how to interact with the tool, so may require some help from you to show them what to do – start off easy and the quicker they get the better you can hide things! Try your hand with different objects, or simply play some “hunt the treat” games, the options are near limitless! It’s always advisable to supervise your dog during these activities as well, and try to make it as fun as possible!

However, as previously stated, there are dogs that are unafraid of the dark and enjoy the wet weather. This is fantastic for them, as their routine goes on without change, but unfortunately that does mean you must brace the cold and dark!

Health & Safety in the dark is just as important as ensuring your dog is comfortable, and with the increasing amount of traffic these days, visibility is key, especially if you must walk your dog along unlit roads. There are so many fetching high visibility options available for your dog (and even for you!), so use this season as an opportunity to strengthen his winter wardrobe! Some dogs, short haired dogs especially may require an extra jacket to fight off the winter chills! Introduce this new, weird clothing gradually to your dogs as they will probably not be used to it. Use lots of treats and go at a slow pace making sure your dog is comfortable at all times.

 

Wouldn’t you want to look this trendy?

Despite the miserable weather that Winter brings with it, there are many solutions to keep your dogs happy! Now you can rest assured knowing that your dog will be equally entertained and safe regardless of which enrichment option suits you and your beloved pet.

Don’t Forget!

We will soon be running our classes throughout Surrey, to help your pooch transform from a rebel without a cause to your friend on four paws! For more information please call us on: 01372 224766 or email: surreydogschool@dogstrust.org.uk and get booked on to some of our classes.

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