Late fall and winter, when the leaves drop and the air gets cold, can be an optimal time to get outdoors with your dog. I run and hike with my eight-year-old Weimaraner, Rodney, all year ‘round. When the snow flies we skijor and “dogsled” a few times a week. (We put him in a harness and let him pull our kids around on plastic sleds on a frozen lake near our home.)
Don’t let the cold weather or deep snow slow your dog time down. Indeed, many breeds love it when the temps drop and they can run and run without overheating. Ruff Wear Inc., a dog-gear company in Bend, Ore., recently handed out a list of cold-weather dog tips. Take this advice before leashing up your canine in the cold this year. —Stephen Regenold
Don’t fear the chill. Cooler weather provides a great opportunity to get outside with your dog. Some dogs thrive in cool temperatures so take advantage of the seasonal weather! Try a new activity together: trail running/hiking, snow shoeing, or skijoring. If it’s really cold, make the adventure more comfortable for your dog by putting on dog boots and/or a dog coat. This will help the dog stay out longer. (We reviewed a Ruff Wear coat last year: gearjunkie.com/ruff-wear-climate-changer.)
Leash ‘em in the snow. When snow storms hit, it’s best to keep your dog on a leash. Ruff Wear cites a source that says more dogs are lost during the winter months than during any other season. Dogs can lose their bearings when the weather turns nasty, so keep identification tags on at all times.
Water in the cold. When you’re out on the trail this winter, don’t expect your dog to find their own water source. Eating snow isn’t an acceptable way to take in water either. Make sure to carry extra H20 and a collapsible water bowl in your pack.
Dog booties. During the colder months, outdoor surfaces may contain any number of harsh substances that could irritate dogs’ paws. A product like Ruff Wear’s Polar Trex dog boots not only provide excellent traction on snow and ice, they can protect paws from harmful chemicals like salt and antifreeze on winter sidewalks and roads.
Fur considerations. Short-haired dogs like my Weimaraner often need an additional layer to keep their core temperature in a healthy range. A dog coat is a must-have for breeds not equipped to handle winter’s lowest temps. One option is Ruff Wear’s Cloud Chaser, a softshell zip-on that repels wind and moisture while helping a dog stay warm.