Winter Care for Your Dog - Dog Training Tips
1st June 2016
At Bark Busters Home Dog Training we are committed to helping owners to do the very best for their dogs at all times and in all circumstances. The Winter months bring challenges for dogs and it is a good idea for owners to be aware of these so they can take the necessary steps to keep their dogs safe and warm.
Dogs feel the cold too!
There is a misconception that, because they have a fur coat, dogs do not feel the cold. Whilst their coats will provide a certain amount of protection they will feel the cold just as we do. If your dog lives indoors with you, he will have become used to the warmth, and going outside into colder temperatures can be as uncomfortable for him as it is for you. As a guide, if the winter weather is too cold for you to stand outside without wearing a coat, then it may also be too cold for your dog. Dogs with thin/short coats may need to wear a dog coat or knitted jumper when out for walks during cold spells. Even then, a coat won't protect the ears, nose, feet or tail, so it is a good idea not to keep your short-haired dog out for too long.
Clearly, you will still want to walk your dog and most dogs will still require and expect their fair share of "walkies" time. You can try to minimise the impact of winter weather conditions by taking him out for a walk in the middle of the day, rather than early morning and late evening. Going outside when the sun is shining is a good idea as temperatures will be slightly higher, and you can both benefit from a little vitamin D!
When you take your dog out, always ensure that your dog is wearing his identification tags.
Watch out for signs that your dog is getting overly cold when he is outside. If you notice him shivering, becoming lethargic or if he starts to whine, take him into the warmth and cover him with a light blanket. Paws are extremely vulnerable in colder conditions. Check your dog's paws regularly for cracked pads.
Food and Drink
Ensure that fresh water is available at all times and use a plastic water bowl (if water is kept outside) so that your dog's tongue does not get stuck to cold metal. Don't be tempted to over feed your dog as his activity levels will probably be less during the winter than during the summer. You can even place some of his food into a treat reward toy, such as the Bark Busters GameChanger® so that he has to work for his food, burn off more calories and it will also keep him entertained.
If your dog lives outside, or even if he spends periods of time outside, ensure that you provide him with a kennel, crate or a sheltered undercover area so he can get out of the cold elements.. Fit a flap onto the kennel entrance, cover the crate and face it away from the weather. The kennel & crate should be raised several inches off the ground and the floor could be covered with an old blanket or the likes, which need to be changed regularly to kept dry. The kennel or crate needs to be large enough for your dog to sit, stand and turn, but small enough to retain his body heat.
Even if your dog lives indoors, don't leave them to sleep on a cold floor in winter. Provide a dog bed, blankets or even a heated or raised dog bed. Place the bed in an area away from draughts, or uncarpeted floors.
Don't Give Up Your Training Routine
Even though your dog may be spending less time outside during the winter you can still maintain your training exercises. Practice your basic obedience indoors, and play some interactive games with your dog. You can even practice recall, and lead-work in the house and around your garden. Spending 10-15 minutes each day doing some basic training will help maintain your relationship with your dog, and keep his brain active.
Paying a little extra attention to your dog's well-being during the winter months means that you can both enjoy the frosty, cold and invigorating weather conditions together. Your dog will certainly appreciate your efforts!