Winter Survival Kit for You and Your Dog
As the weather turns decidedly wet, windy, snowy and inclement, John has taken a look at his personal tips on enjoying the countryside.
“We all enjoy the crisp air, blue sky and clean feeling of a high pressure system. Enjoying how the sunlight plays on the last few leaves, struggling to hold onto the branches! We love watching Biscuit gallop across the fields when the landscape has been visited by good ole Jack Frost. Glistening and glittering, puddles with wonderful patterns and icicles growing on fallen leaves.” Loving the sound of this? Below are a few tips and ideas to help you combat the short days and dark nights.
This weekend, Dorset is being battered by rain and high winds again. The paddocks look like a battle field where the horses have trampled the grass into submission. Mud!
My wife was not looking forward to the short darker days, long evenings and soggy puddles. She chooses to keep horses, I say.
People and Dogs have similar needs
It is surprising how many people know not to keep a dog in a car in the heat of summer. Therefore it is reasonable to say DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR while you pop in the pub. Especially if they are wet and trying to get dry and warm. Elderly people and children feel the cold. It is exactly the same for puppies and old dogs. Illness and medications can also make them more susceptible.
Flexibility in the duration of a walk, or where you go, is also important for some breeds. (Spaniels, Labradors who are regularly working outside will have a much higher tolerance)My wife is always considering which rug to put on her horse as the weather / temperature changes daily. Warmth is a luxury we all crave. As temperatures plummet in the early hours and your heating may have gone off, a cosy bed really comes into it’s own. Talking of beds, where is your dog’s bed? Do you need to move it to a different location in the house in winter, for example to avoid draft or cold surface.
A few obvious dog walking ideas, and a couple you may not have considered.
A friend of ours has had a hip replacement and her biggest fear is falling. Luckily her Labrador has been well trained on the lead and does not pull.
She has boots for normal walking and a pair of boots for slippery conditions. To avoid slipping on ice consider walking at a later time of day. In wet weather our patio seems to grow an algae which always proves slippery. I know a friend’s decking which is amazing but becomes slippery when wet.
We love the way she is an avid weather watcher on her phone, aiming to give her dog, and herself, the best times of day. If walking alone she always makes sure her mobile is fully charged, they loose charge more quickly in the cold. If you are concerned, make sure someone knows where and when you are going out, or better still take them with you.On the really cold days she never lets her dog off the lead near a river, lake or pond. He loves nothing more than swimming, but she knows he only comes back when he chooses. He would not consider he was getting chilled or even hypothermic. Ice is unpredictable when it comes to thickness and taking weight. The news often highlights an owner that ended up in hospital, or worse, as they went in after their dog. If they fall through ice phone the emergency services for help and keep calling him/her to swim back to you.
Energy levels can fluctuate if you change your routine based upon the weather. The fresh air and exercise is so good for you. The initial excitement of exploring snow will guarantee lots more energy is used by both of you. The opposite of this is, of course, if you stay in more than usual you will both be exercising less. Because of this you may want to review the feeding levels you are giving your dog.
Sensible survival kit for walking in the dark.
Coat, gloves, hat, high viz jacket, yours and the dog’s, bright lead – Check. Remember your torch, (or head torch leaving you hands free), that extra thermal layer and neck-warmer
Do your dress your dog or leave as nature intended?
Biscuit has a good coat, but if he has been clipped we will consider waterproof jacket. Especially useful for old dogs, thin coated breeds, dogs who love to roll in puddles and old dogs who may have the onset of arthritis or rheumatism which you may not be fully aware of yet.
My Mud busting Tips
The back of my car is kitted out with essentials for Biscuits comforts but also to keep my precious car clean. What do I do? Boot liners are fab, I would have seat covers too if he was allowed on them, which he is not! It really helps to keep a bottle of fresh water and old towels to get the worst off before he starts cleaning his paws and coat in the back of my car. Check for sores, thorns or cuts as grit on roads, exposed gravel and ice can be sharper or irritate at this time of year.