Dog exercise ideas on treacherous weather days

When outdoor conditions are treacherous, your dog still needs exercise ! This is the time to change your routine and think survival to ensure a safe fun experience. First off, get your gear together: ice & snow traction aids (pull-over footwear) prevent slipping. Instead of your zip-line leash, use a 4 to 6 ft leash for greater control. If your dog pulls when on leash then attach a front-control harness to prevent your losing balance. Grip boots for your dog might work, otherwise don’t trim paw nails as short during winter. For hikes a thermos of water and cup for you and your dog is necessary. Pack a whistle too. Keep your backyard shoveled and free of ice so that you have a least one safe place for bio breaks (plus find and remove your dogs and rodent poop). When you simply cant get outdoors use your regular walk time to instead play indoor games with your pooch – the games offer intellectual stimulation – which can substitute for exercise. A local doggie daycare can be a solution for social dogs to burn off pent up energy. If you are going to brave the streets then plan a route that avoids steep slopes, ramps, stairs and heavy vehicle traffic. Take a penlight flashlight if your mobile doesnt have one for after 4 pm walks.  Where possible walk on the edges of lawns where ice hasn’t formed.  Turn your mobile devise off so you are not distracted  – in bad weather you need your full attention and observation skills at play (watch out for the other guy). If a leash walk just won’t suffice for your high spirited dog then drive to a safe location where the surface is not frozen over. It’s not advisable to release your dog off-leash in poor conditions without reliable recall. Possible places to run are a local park, a fenced sports court, a vacant bldg parking lot, a school yard (at off hours), or a provincial park where trails are maintained (eg. Hilton Falls). If the park trails are icy then stomp your way adjacent to the trail (which adds resistance to your walk). Wherever you go, first walk the perimeter with your pooch on leash to identify unsafe conditions (like steep slopes and frozen waterways) before releasing them. When you return home from the outdoors take the time to thoroughly rinse salt & ice balls off your pooches paws (and between toes) by soaking them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water and dry them. If their fur coat is wet then a vigorous rub down with a towel will be a nice touch.

Annalore Boyd