Tips & Tricks For Winter Weather

By Sean-Patrick M. Hillman

Winter is always a challenging time for New Yorkers. Being stuck inside and keeping your furrever one calm, healthy and fit when it is too cold and wet outside are all norms during the winter in the Big Apple. 

Whether it’s because of too much snow, colder-than-average temperatures, or a mix of the two, we’re here to help you get through what is allegedly a harsh winter ahead. 

Kate Perry, the owner of Kate Perry Dog Training, one of the best trainers in the country, and a columnist for Pet Lifestyles Magazine has some fun, innovative indoor tricks and games for when it’s too cold to walk outside and to prevent your dogs from going stir crazy:

• Maintain your regular schedule as much as possible. Dogs love a good routine. They depend on it. Even if it’s cold out, stick to your dog-walking routine when possible. But shorten the time outside!
• Protect your dog from the cold with a waterproof Velcro fleece-lined coat. An easy-to-put-on coat is best.
• Protect paws with Musher’s Secret, which aids in protecting your dog’s paws from salt, chemicals, and ice build-up. Just rub it into paws and between toes. If you prefer boots, Kate recommends waterproof Pawz Dog Boots, which allow your dog to feel the ground naturally.
• Be sure to wipe down paws, legs, and bellies to remove salt and dirt.
• If it’s too harsh outside, create indoor fun! A snuffle mat or puzzle toy are perfect for physical and mental enrichment as dogs search for treats. 
• Pet-safe brand Busy Buddy twist and treat toys provide hours of boredom-busting. One example is Frozen Kong, which becomes a yummy, challenging project for any dog when filled with snacks or food. 
• Set up an indoor agility course with tunnels and other fun obstacles. You can also hide treats around the home for fun nose-work.
• Socialization is crucial—every day! Set up play dates in building lobbies or at a friend’s place. Wintry weather can lead to isolation, which is unsuitable for social animals like dogs. 
• One of Kate’s favorites is to teach dogs to spin on a towel after coming in from wet, snowy days. It’s not only fun but is also very practical to wipe their feet. You can then combine both a spin and rollover trick on the towel. And voila! Your dog has dried itself off on the towel. This trick is featured in Kate’s book, Training For Both Ends Of The Leash (available on Amazon)!

During the winter months, you often run into health or wellness issues with your dog because they can’t exercise as much or don’t want to be outside in the freezing cold for more than a few minutes at a time. Try these tips for a healthier pooch during the winter months:

• Make sure that your building is using pet-friendly snow melt or salt—if they aren’t, or you walk your dog around the city streets, you should consider a barrier for their paws, like pet boots (i.e., PAWZ Boots) or wax (i.e., Mixlab, Mushers, etc.). You should also contact your building’s management to see if they will switch to pet-friendly snow melt.
• You must be careful about walking through puddles, curb “ponds,” and snowbanks because of potential dangers hidden underneath, especially when it comes to the water’s temperature because it can harm their paws.
• If it’s cold for you, it is cold for your pet. If it’s frigid, you must ensure they have a coat or insulated barrier like a fleece or heavy sweater.
• Be sure to monitor calorie intake. You may want to consider feeding them a little less food or cutting back on treats so that they can maintain that svelte figure.
• If it’s dry season, use olive oil in their food and consider extra bathing with a conditioner. It would help if you made sure to keep their coat shiny. Along those lines, monitor nail length; you may need to get them trimmed more often.   

As a rule of PAW, always remember that if it is too cold for you, regardless of their fur coat, it is too cold for them to be outside for long periods. It’s better to rug up and stay warm than be too cold!