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Top 5 Winter Dog Walking Tips


When the winter season arrives, so do winter dog walking challenges. 

Even though winter can be a blast for skijoring and building snowmen in the great outdoors with your pup, there are tips you need to know for keeping your dog safe when walking them in the winter. 

Walking, no matter what the weather, is a necessity to let your dog “do their business” and to keep up an exercise routine for both of you. But when it’s cold and the days are short, certain precautions should be taken to make the all-important dog walk as pleasurable as it can be. Read on for the top 5 winter dog walking tips, compiled to encourage you and your pooch to head out the door without hesitation!

Is it too cold for a dog walk?

This is a tough question and will depend on the breed of dog. A small dog will feel the cold quicker than a large dog with a thick coat. But, any pooch, whether big or tiny with little fur will be shivering in no time on a frigid day. Don’t subject any dog to the cold for too long. It’s not kind, and it’s not safe.

Weather's not too cold? Then keep reading on for Wag!'s TOP 5 winter dog walking tips! 🐾

Here are the tips:

#1) Protect the paws

One of the most important things to remember is that your dog’s feet are bare to the elements. Cold snow, slippery ice, and road salt can make a pupper’s paws pretty sore. Salt, in particular, can cause the feet to burn.

Invest in a pair of dog boots for protection. Although dogs that have not been trained to wear them from a young age may resist the idea, it is worth the try. If boots are an absolute no-go, opt for a protectant like a musher’s wax to coat the paw pads. 

Once you are back inside from the walk, take a few minutes to wipe your pooch’s paws to remove ice, snowballs, salt, or other chemicals.

#2) Check for leash safety

Before heading out for a winter walk, check that your dog’s collar and leash are securely fastened. Unless you are at an enclosed dog park, keep your furry companion on the leash at all times. 

Snowy roads are hazardous and cars cannot always stop on a dime. Running to chase a squirrel or darting across the street to greet a canine friend spells disaster if a car is approaching at the same time.

#3) Don’t allow your dog to eat snow

There are a couple of reasons that dogs should not eat snow. Cold weather products like antifreeze and de-icing chemicals are highly toxic and even fatal in most cases. Ingesting too much snow can also lower your dog’s body temperature. Signs that your dog is cold are shivering, walking slowly, and whining. 

#4) Dress for visibility

Does your dog have a bright, flashing light for their collar? Short-coated dogs who have jackets for warmth should be wearing ones with reflective strips. Be sure to purchase more than one jacket or sweater—putting a wet coat on a dog to go for a walk is worse than not putting one on at all. 

Don’t forget your jacket; choose a color other than black and wear flashing armbands so that both you and your furry BFF are easily seen. Staying visible is a must.

#5) Keep the walks short on frigid days

Dog walking on really cold days is no fun for anyone. Keep the walks short and go more often instead of venturing out for a long trek. Head back home if your pooch starts lifting their paws, showing anxiety, or trying to lie down. 

When temperatures are frigid, don’t go far from home. If your dog exhibits signs of hypothermia or frostbite, call the vet right away. 

Other things to keep in mind when dog walking in the winter:

  • Dogs with certain health conditions should not be taken on lengthy outings. Arthritic dogs may experience worsening symptoms and could fall more easily, setting them up for injury. Canines with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease will feel the cold sooner than healthy dogs do.

  • Senior dogs and puppies will mind the cold and should not be outside for lengthy periods in cold conditions. The risk of hypothermia is highly possible. The same goes for dogs with thin coats, and pooches with short legs whose bellies may be low to the ground.

  • Be aware of your dog’s response to the cold. Watch for signs of discomfort and always put your pupster first. You may be having a good time, but your pooch may be pining for the warm indoors.

Thinking of staying home today? No worries! Wag!'s compiled fun exercise ideas for you when dog walking just isn't an option.

  • Dogs love yoga! Teach your canine pooch-approved poses like the downward dog and the cat-cow.

  • Do you have a long hallway? Play fetch and run from one end of the hallway to another. This gives you and your tail-wagger a workout.

  • A happy hound who loves following a scent will be keen to play treasure hunt. Hide a few treats around the house and set your pooch on a trail.

  • Missing a walk also means missing the mental stimulation of sniffing around outside. Have interactive toys on hand that give the brain a workout. 

  • Brushing up on obedience at home is a valuable indoor activity. Start with the basics and perfect your dog’s “sit” and “stay”.

  • If you are unable to hit the streets on a cold day but your pupster absolutely needs a walk, enlist the help of a 5-star dog walker in your neighborhood.

  • A trusted dog walker can ensure that your much-loved dog gets to stretch their legs, even on a snowy day.

Enjoy the holidays! 🐾

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