In the middle of the winter, you begrudgingly shovel the foot of snow out of your driveway. You’re exhausted, sweaty, and sick of snow and mumbling how much you hate it as you clear a path for your car. But Fido is loving it, even though it’s the fifth significant snowfall of the season.
Even with his short legs, he is jumping in snow banks, swimming through the white fluff, and flipping snow into the air with his nose. The whole time you’ve been shoveling, Fido has been playing and hasn’t tired yet. It’s cold outside and you’re in layers, but he’s happy just bouncing around. Why does your dog love snow so much?
The Root of the Behavior
Snow is fun! Remember the days before work and responsibilities how much you loved playing in the snow? For those who live in mild winter climates, snow was new, didn’t come all the time, and was usually temporary. You didn’t know when it was coming back. The excitement you felt as a kid to play in the first snowfall of the year is probably felt by your dog too. Snow is something new for your dog to play with. The novelty of the snow makes it attractive to dogs and it’s an abundant new toy. He gets to lick it, jump in it, and kick snow around. Dogs have a chance to dig and sniff. Snow is often lightweight and easy to move, and if it is heavier, it will provide excellent exercise. And unlike dirt, dogs can submerge themselves and their owners won’t force a bath on them. It stimulates your dog during playtime and is a lot more fun than sitting inside.
A dog who lives in typically cold climates where there is constant snow, like a Husky, may not be as fascinated by it, but there are other reasons he might like it. The cool temperature of the winter makes larger dogs with thick coats more comfortable playing outside. In the summer, these dogs overheat easily and can’t run around as much as they would like. In the winter snow, dogs can frolic and roll around in it. Smaller dogs may not be as eager to run outside in the snow, as we’ve seen pictures or witnessed firsthand a Miniature Yorkshire Terriers or Toy Poodles getting lost in a snow bank. Playing gives a dog mental, physical, and emotional stimulation. When dogs have the opportunity to play in the snow, it promotes good health, even if it is cold outside. Dogs are smart enough to take care of themselves and know when to come inside, but there are still some precautions to take.
Encouraging the Behavior
Letting your dog play outside in the snow should be fine unless otherwise stated by your vet or in extreme weather conditions, like the middle of a blizzard with sleet, hail, snow, and a sheet of ice on the ground. Playing is important for a dog’s health and with the boredom that being inside during winter can bring, snow is an amazing relief. He’ll have fun if you’re outside together or if he’s alone and he’ll get exercise and release any pent-up energy.
When your dog plays outside, he is being stimulated mentally, physically, and emotionally. This helps curb boredom, anxiety, stress, and health-related problems like obesity. It will also strengthen your bond if you play with your dog in the snow, too. Watching the snowball break apart as you throw it will be fun for both you and Fido. Keep your dog’s health in mind when he’s outside in the winter. If you have a senior dog or one with health problems, make sure you monitor him. He might be excited and not realize he’s exerting himself too much because it is a special occasion.
Don’t ever leave your dog outside for extended periods of time and keep an eye on him when he is outside. While he might enjoy the cold and have the coat for it, being exposed to the cold and being wet from snow can become unpleasant and cause him to become sick. He also might slip on ice or even run out of the yard, especially if the snow is high enough for him to jump over a fence. If you have a little dog, he could fall into a snow bank and get stuck.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Before you let your dog frolic in the white covering on the ground, consider a few things. If he is a small dog with a thin coat, give him a sweater or coat. Small dog breeds tend to run cooler, whereas the Husky will be fine in a pile of snow with his natural coat.
If you are not sure whether or not you should let your dog play in the snow for a long time or are concerned that he is not interested in the snow, take him to the vet. It is always a good idea to make sure he is healthy before vigorous activity in unusual temperatures.
All winter long, you might sing “Dachshund through the snow” while you wait for the next snowfall. Once it comes, grab your coat and mittens and play outside with your Dachshund. Stay warm, make sure there is hot cocoa for you when you go inside, and fresh water for your dog along with a warm blanket.
By a Miniature Yorkie lover Stephanie Molkentin
Published: 03/09/2018, edited: 01/30/2020
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