Are you enjoying the winter months with your dog? I often hear “it is too cold or difficult to walk my dog in the winter”, so I thought I would give a few fun recommendations! I do realize not everyone loves the snow, in fact there are a few dogs breeds that do not like the snow either. With that in mind, you must also realize that most dogs become frustrated and create unwanted habits when their exercise is stopped during the winter months.

We are fortunate to live in an area where there are so many dog friendly beaches and dog parks! This is also a fun way to meet friends who are also crazy about their dog! In addition, dog parks are great places of high distractions, if you want to practice your dogs cues, this is a great place! Remember to focus on adding positive reinforcement to your training!

Here’s a great link with information on local “dog-friendly” parks:portlandonline.com

If however you share your life with a shy dog that sits between your legs or worse, growls and snaps at the other dogs while at the park, then the dog park is not for you. Hey, that is okay, not all dogs are social, that doesn’t make them a bad dog. There are many other options to exercise your dog than taking them to a dog park.

Walking our dogs in the winter takes a bit of extra effort for sure. I find it difficult to walk in the soft powder as I do not have snow shoes, but if you do and you have a medium to large dog, their is no better way than to earn your dogs love! Trail blazing on snow shoes or cross country skis is a fun way to exercise both you and your dog.

Another option, that I recommend is to find a snowmobile path. I love to head out on the snowmobile trails with my dogs as it makes for easy walking because the snow is packed down tight. Occasionally you will need a pair of spiked grips on your boots to help keep you from sliding, this is necessary when the temperature is below freezing. Because the trails are along the power lines, they are usually sheltered from the wind which makes the walk easier.

Going to the beach is a great way have fun with your dog. If your dog likes to fetch, you can walk along and play fetch for great exercise. If your dog is not as well trained as your would like and runs too far away from you, try using a long 30 to 50 foot light weight rope to keep your dog from wandering too far. If this makes your nervous, than consider taking my Outdoor Adventure Class!

Always keep in mind your dog’s needs such as wearing a sweater, booties and providing fresh water after your walks. Also, if you need to motivate your dog to stay near you, take two levels of reward with you. Either yummy treats or a favorite toy! Many dogs would rather play fetch with their owner than run off to smell another dog. This is normal and perfectly fine! Your dog is saying you are more fun and exciting than anyone else on the beach, how awesome is that!

Regardless of the location you choose, safety with your dog in the parking lot is a must! First use the leash to tether your dogs until you have them under voice control. Ask you dog to wait while you gather your belongings while your door is open. Practice will turn into habit for your dog and soon you will be able to leave the car door open with your dogs waiting nicely in side. Don’t take chances, always use a leash to be ultra safe when cars are nearby!

So I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the winter months with your dogs, they will love you for taking them with you! If you are just not a cold weather person, consider asking a neighbor or young teenager to walk your dog for you.

Until Spring have fun in the snow!