It has been a few weeks since the clocks have changed, but it suddenly feels like we are living in the dark. By late afternoon, any sun that we may have seen peeking out has long since disappeared and by early evening it's positively dark outside.
While this might seem like the perfect excuse to cut your dog’s walk short, we must take a closer look at the situation. Dogs have to have some form of daily exercise and that usually means that a walk is in order.
Many people believe their dog doesn’t like the cold or snow or even the dark, but this is far from the truth. Most dogs tolerate the cold quite well if they are bundled up for it and many actually love to have a good long romp in the snow.
Being bundled up is the key, for the dog and the walker.
Getting yourself a good dog-walking outfit will make all the difference. With the abundance of polar fleece, this should be no problem.
Your dogs should have an insulated, windproof jacket. This is no longer just a fashion item, but great for all dogs, especially the short coated breeds.
Remember your dog spends most of his time indoors and has not developed a thick winter coat. The blast of the winds can be uncomfortable for any dog.
The majority of dog owners choose after work as the most convenient time to walk their dogs.
This can cause problems with visibility, not for the dogs seeing us, but for us being able to see our dogs.
There are many dog collars and leads on the market with a reflective strip. You can also add some reflective tape to your existing lead. This will make it easier for drivers to see your dog coming, especially if you have a black or dark-coated dog. It is not a bad idea to have some reflective tape put onto the back of your own jacket.
Collars with flashing lights are available at many pet shops. These collars have small batteries and when the collar is turned on, the lights that circle the collar will flash. This makes the dogs visible in the darkest areas. There is also another version of the flashing collar. It's a small flashing bulb that runs on a battery. This can be attached to you dog’s collar.
While the flashing collar is great for walking the dog, it's also useful for seeing your dog while he's in your backyard.
For the ultimate in safety, it's recommended you keep your dog on a leash at all times while walking, especially in the dark.
So, you have no excuse. Throw on those snow boots, wrap a scarf around your neck, dress your dog in a warm jacket and out you go. The exercise will do you both good!
Gillian Ridgeway has been featured in many media interviews and is a writer for various dog publications. Her involvement as the founding member of two dog training associations ensures she remains current on training issues. Gillian is an in-demand speaker at many trainer and vet tech conferences and a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, using dogs to shed light on learning theory to the psychology students. Contact her at 416-465-3626; 905-619-1733 or www.whoswalkingwho.ca