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Winter Warmers: How to keep your dog safe and warm on winter walks

07/12/2018 - Welcome to Best Behaviour Dog Training

Following on from our Christmas present blog I thought we could look at another seasonal subject. How to keep your dog warm and safe on winter dog walks.

There are some dogs that revel in cold conditions. But others, especially pooches with fine textured or clipped fur, do tend to feel the cold. Remember too that icy surfaces and road salt can lead to sore paws. We have a solution for that too.

What to look for in a winter coat for your dog

Adjustable Fit
There is no such thing as a one size fits all dog coat. A jack russell terrier for example may have a similar height and length to a pug – but the body shape is completely different.

Look for a coat with fastenings that adjust easily to make sure the neck, chest, armpits, tummy, hips and tail can all be comfortable.

It goes without saying that the rug should not impede bodily functions in any way either.

Collars and Harnesses
If you are walking your dog, he’ll presumably be wearing his collar or his harness on top of the coat. For harness wearers choose a coat that’s not too bulky and doesn’t have buckles or fixings where the harness sits – your dog won’t appreciate chafing

Easy-on–easy –off
Dogs don’t understand clothes the way that we do. Some won’t like having a jacket put over their head, some won’t be able to keep still while you “dress” them. For a fearful dog, a snug fitting coat can be an excellent training aid – it helps him feel secure. However, it’s important that he’s not spooked by his coat.

Look for simple fastenings that won’t get clogged up with mud. Elderly or injured dogs might like a coat they can step into before you zip it up along their back. Like this Equafleece dog suit (scroll down to see the zip option)

It can take a lot of patience to get your dog to co-operate with having his coat put on. Don’t worry. We can help. A one to one session with one of our behaviourists will help identify what it is the dog doesn’t like and help you to overcome his reluctance (or his enthusiasm)

Hi Visibility
If you’re walking on dull days or after dark, then a hi-vis option is a good choice

A waterproof or water resistant coat is a good option. Even in misty weather when it’s not actually raining, dogs can get damp. As they can if they run through long grass. Should they swim in their coat? I’d say avoid it if you can. A fleecy inner lining can soon get waterlogged.

The hardy winter dog walker will know that a good dog coat is not only machine washable – it’s quick to dry too.

Here’s our pick of products to keep your dog toasty warm
Who has years of experience at keeping outdoor animals warm and dry in winter? That’s right, horse lovers. Horse rugs are tough, they allow a full range of movement without getting tangled or falling off and they do an admiral job of keeping clipped animals snug.
It makes perfect sense to look at dog coats made with the same level of expertise

These websites have a wide choice of dog coats – there’ll be something suitable for everyone here

Equafleece is a successful UK Company originating in Dartmoor where dog walking conditions can be harsh and challenging. Their products are popular amongst horse lovers and dog owners.

Weatherbeeta is based in Oxfordshire and has an extensive range of dog coats for all shapes, sizes, ages and energy levels.https://www.weatherbeeta.co.uk/pets
Based on the rugs that racehorses wear, the Rambo Deluxe dog coat has an eyecatching design and carefully shaped leg openings to allow for maximum movement.  https://www.equinesuperstore.co.uk/horseware-newmarket-fleece-dog-rug.html
Paws for Thought
Now that your dog is warm and snuggly, there’s just one more thing to think about before you leave the house. His feet.

Dogs’ paws are quite vulnerable. In summer we warn against walking on hot pavements. In winter you need to remember that ice, road salt, frozen soil etc all have the potential to damage your dogs’ feet.

Protect his feet with paw wax. It’s amazing stuff and even makes great handcream if you are prone to chapped hands.

Buy online or make your own. There are lots of different video recipes out there – I chose this video because it shows beautifully how effective and protective paw wax is.
The winter after- walk routine
Before you both get too comfortable, your dog needs to have grit and salt rinsed off his feet. Follow that with a circulation-boosting rub down with a microfiber towel. Remember to pay particular attention to the spaces between his pads.

Again – if he’s not keen on too much handling, dog training classes can show you how to help your dog appreciate the extra attention.

Once the dog is happy, you can make yourself a hot chocolate and start to thaw out. Maybe with a read of one of our blogs

More Reading
Worry free dog walking
Book a training session to help your dog with winter worries  
Keep warm and get active with dog agility classes

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