Dogs need exercise whatever the weather, but not all dogs love going out in the snow. So how can you help them learn to enjoy their winter walks?
How to enjoy winter walks with your dog
Wrap yourself and your dog up in the right gear to keep warm inside and keep the elements out. Protect paws from frozen ground and chemical deicers with paw balm. Keep your dog on a leash and your walks brisk, short and allow your dog to sniff along the way.
Prepare yourself first
Wrap yourself up warm with several layers and a good winter coat. Layers work better as they trap air and insulate your. Try a merino wool or bamboo base layer.
Wear comfortable footwear that offers your grip and warmth ( wool socks will help too). I love muckboots. I have two pairs including the Arctic Sport II short boots and they are brilliant for dog walking.
Keep your hands toasty and warm with mittens or gloves so that you don’t lose your grip on the leash. I use puffa gloves that have a grip in the fingers and palm (they’re my horse riding gloves) that means I can hold the leash, deliver treats and of course pick up a stick to flick the poop.
Keep your dog warm too
Unless you own a dog such as a Alaskan Malamutes, Huskies, and Saint Bernards who are naturally built to survive the winter elements you’ll need to take care of your pooch.
Most dogs benefit from a jacket when it’s cold, especially puppies, elderly dogs, smaller breeds and hairless or shorter-haired dogs who may have a harder time staying warm. A coat built for the cold and for repelling moisture is best.
If it’s a bright cold and day, but dry, you might opt for a cozy fleece. Or, if it’s raining or snow on the ground then a water resistant coat with a warm lining might be a better choice.
Don’t forget to check before you go out that their coat is dry from the last walk as cold wet clothing will not be appreciated.
Check out this review of 5 of the best dog coats for the colder weather. Dolly, my French Bulldog, has a Dogby Down coat from Trespaws that we use when it gets really cold to keep her body warm whilst we’re out and about.
Protect your dog’s paws
Dog’s paws need protecting so at least use a good paw balm before you go out to keep the nasties on the ground out like de-icer, salt and ice melting chemicals seeping into your dogs paws as they are toxic.
And, when you return from your walk, give those paws a good soak ( see below for a home made remedy) to remove any ice or snow that may have built up between toes and to rinse away any salts or toxic chemicals that may have been stepped in.
Read next: tips on paw care
You might also like to consider doggie booties. You’ll need to teach your dog to like their boots which can be done very successfully with clicker training:
Keep hold of the leash
In bad conditions it would be easy for your dog to run off and get lost. So I recommend that you use a leash at all times when on winter walks. If you turn your walk into more of a ‘sniffari’ then your dog will get plenty of stimulation and enjoy themselves. You might have to hop from one foot to the other to keep warm, so wrap up!
I always us a running leash that goes around your waist and has a slight elasticity ( like a bungy cord) that attaches to Dolly’s harness . In the event that I trip and fall, this type of leash leaves my hands free and my dog stays attached, regardless of whether I kept a grip on the leash or not.
First winter walk tips
Once you’re both ready to go, keep the walk short. If your dog just wants to sniff round the block for 5 minutes, then let them. Gradually extend the walks by 5 mins at a time and let your dog tell you when they’ve had enough for today. Always set them up for success and make it a positive experience.
Avoid potential dangers on your walk
In the countryside we have may hazards. Ponds and lakes are still very dangerous, even if they look completely frozen, the ice can crack at any point. Rivers, fords and ditches can become swollen and fast moving water can sweep a dog and you, away much quicker than you think.
It’s best to stick to the foot paths and routes you are familiar with. Snow can cover and hide obstacles like fallen branches, rocks and other sharp objects that could injure you or your dog.
When walking in urban areas try to avoid driveways and parking areas where antifreeze may have dripped. Stay clear of freshly salted or de-iced roads, especially if your dog isn’t wearing protective booties, as salts and chemicals can be irritating to the skin at the very least, or life-threatening at most.
Remember to use pet-safe ice melter on your own driveway and path outside your house and encourage your neighbours to do the same.
Most ice melters on the market, except for those containing calcium or magnesium chlorides, if used according to their label instructions will not harm your pets with normal contact. However you might like to try our easy homemade pet-safe ice melter recipe!
Pet Safe Ice Melter – Cheap and Easy Homemade Instructions
- Watering can with rose nozzle
- 2 tsbp Fairy washing up liquid Dawn dish soap for the US
- 2 tbsp Surgical Spirit Rubbing Alcohol for US
- 5 litres Hot Water
- Put the washing up liquid, surgical spirit into your watering can first then add the hot water to mix
- Pour the solution onto the ice and snow
How to prevent snowballs on your dogs legs and paws with this easy method
Use an oil spray on your dogs coat and paws to prevent snowballs and ice balls forming whilst they are out enjoying themselves. Coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil work best and are safe for your dog. The oil prevents the snow from sticking to the fur and will encourage your dog to enjoy being in the snow without the painful snowball legs.
Paw soak for winter dog paw care
When you’ve been out in the wet and the snow it’s a good idea to wash your dogs paws to remove any harmful grit or chemicals that they may have walked in.
Here’s my home remedy for a lovely paw soak. Remember to prepare it before you go so you can clean them as soon as you return.
Home made Paw Soak for Dogs
- Flat bottomed bowl
- 250ml Organic apple cider vinegar
- 1 juice Lemon Lemon is an anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral ingredient
- 20 drops Peppermint oil
- Mix all the ingredients in a flat bottomed dish ( we use a stainless dog bowl.
- Pop each clean paw in the bowl for 30 seconds and then let them air dry.
When is it too cold to walk your dog?
Before heading outside always check the temperature first (including the wind chill factor). This handy infographic created by Dr. Kim Smyth from Pet Plan based on research by Tufts University shows whether your dog may be in danger from the cold.
Essential gear and tips for winter walks with your dog
Walking in winter can be exhilarating and just what you need to blow away the cobwebs from being cooped up indoors. So wrap up and get out there and enjoy your walks again.
- Wrap yourself and your dog up with a good coat.
- Protect their paws from the frozen ground with paw balm.
- Keep the walk brisk and short allowing them to sniff along the way.
- Always keep them on a leash to avoid them running off it you trip.
- Avoid dangers like ponds, rivers and stick to the footpaths
- Double check how cold it is outside
Recommended winter dog walking gear
|Muck Boots Women's Arctic Sport II Tall Rain Boot, Black/Grey, 9 UK||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||5pairs Women Socks Merino Wool Winter Thermal Soft Classic Business Chunky Socks Breathable Premium Hiking Socks Sweat-wicking Lightweight, Wool Socks Gift for Men Women (style4) (style5) (style4)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Muck Boots Unisex Muckmaster High Rain Boot, Brown (Moss/Moss), 8 UK||Prime||Buy Now|
|KOOOGEAR 2 Pairs Men's Merino Wool Blend Hiking Socks - Warm, Breathable, No Blister, Thermal Terry Cushion, for Winter Outdoor Sports Running Walking Trekking Cycling Camping Golf Gym, UK Size 6-9||Prime||Buy Now|
|Mountain Warehouse Merino Mens Long Sleeved Thermal Baselayer Top - Breathable Jumper, Half Zip, Comfortable Sweater, Warm Tee - for Camping in Winter Navy M||Prime||Buy Now|
|Mountain Warehouse Talus Mens Thermal High Wicking Base Layer LongJohns Baselayer Pants Trousers Black Medium||Prime||Buy Now|
|Mountain Warehouse Keep The Heat Isotherm Womens Round Neck Top -Lightweight Ladies Baselayer, Breathable Underlayer, Warm -Best for Skiing, Snowboarding in Cold Weather Navy 10||Prime||Buy Now|
|Mountain Warehouse Talus Women Thermal Baselayer Pants - Lightweight, Breathable & Quick Drying Ladies Leggings - For Winter Travel, Hiking, Camping, Skiing, Snowboard Navy 16||Prime||Buy Now|
|FLOSO® Unisex Mens/Womens Thinsulate Thermal Capped Winter Fingerless Gloves (3M 40g) (One Size) (Black)||Prime||Buy Now|
|MOKCCI Truelove Dog Boots Waterproof Dog Shoes with Best Reflective Straps for Small Medium Large Dog Outdoor||Prime||Buy Now|
|MOKCCI Truelove Soft Front Dog Harness .Best Reflective No Pull Harness with handle and 2 Leash Attachments||Prime||Buy Now|
|Ancol Muddy Paws Cosy Polar Fleece, M, Red||Prime||Buy Now|
|Ancol Muddy Paws Stormguard Coat Chocolate Medium ( Length 40cm/ to fit girth 52-68cm)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Ancol Muddy Paws Stormguard Coat Hi Vis Medium (Length 40cm/ to fit girth 52-68cm)||Prime||Buy Now|
100% organic cotton dog walking hoodies
Why not head over to our Ruffle Snuffle Wear clothing shop where you’ll find soft organic hoodies to layer up with for your walkies.