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Freezing Our Tails Off: Tips for Winter Dog Walking

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30/30? Ha! We can do that!

When You Did What With Your Weiner challenged us to walk 30 minutes a day for 30 days, we were all in. All of us, especially the Felix, loves a good walk and I thought this would be a good way to really step up our game. As much as we love a good stroll, I admit to slacking a bit in the winter.

We were going to do it. I mean, how hard could it be?

We knew right off the bat that it wasn’t the walking that would be our challenge. Our problem would be the weather. You see, we live in Vancouver. From October to June (give or take) it rains cats and dogs here. (Not literally. How awful would that be?) It’s a rare day when some precipitation doesn’t fall on our pretty corner of the globe. Who knew that the rain wouldn’t be our biggest problem??

This 30/30 Challenge is turning into more of a 60/15 Challenge.

It’s just been one thing after another! First, the fog settled in over our town. Now, winter has hit. It’s been below freezing every night for over a week. We’re freezing our tails off over here! We’ve had to adjust to this dark, cold, wet weather walking, really fast.
  • Get Dressed. Dogs with long, thick coats have some built in protection, but for short coated dogs like mine, the right dog coat is important. The right gear is also important for dogs who have kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes or hormonal imbalances (like Cushings) since these conditions can make it difficult to regulate body temperature. Pick a coat with a suitable level of insulation/rain protection for your climate and that allows your dog as much movement as possible.
  • Protect the feet. Not many dogs are going to be OK with putting on a pair of boots, but you still need to protect your dog’s paws from winter hazards like de-icing salt. A waxy product (like Musher’s Secret) can help keep the salt of your dog’s pads. Even when I use it, we still make sure we thoroughly clean the paws after every walk.
  • Bring a drink. I don’t know what it is about the cold weather, but walking makes me thirsty. I know it makes the dogs thirsty too, since we usually go through twice as much water. I find cold water hurts my lungs though, so I always make sure I pack a travel bottle of room temperature water the dogs – and one for me.
  • Light ’em up. Even if we leave for our walk as soon as I get home, it’s already dark when we go out. I have two black dogs. This is a problem. An LED Collar or a Light Up Leash is a great way to ensure your dogs can be seen – even during the long, dark winter nights.
  • Grippy gloves. My biggest cold weather pet peeve is gloves! You get them on and then, BOOM! Someone has to go and now you’re pulling off your gloves to open a bag. Sure, you can buy pricey Gilder Gloves, but I’m way too cheap for that. My solution? Grippy gloves. Take a puffy fabric paint pen and draw a small circle on the tip of each finger. The puff paint dries a bit tacky and gives you some grip as you handle your bags.
Now that we’ve found our groove, we’re getting much better at getting out for those 30 minutes a day. I love, the dogs love it and most of all? Our health loves it. Both dogs are looking slimmer and I’m feeling better than I have in a while. If that’s not a reason to get up and go, I don’t know what is.

What do you do to make winter walking easier?

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