As the weather is getting colder, online dog forums are getting busy with comments about how much people’s dogs hate walking in the rain. In the summer, there was a similar craze on how dangerous it is to walk your dog when it is warm outside. I’m going to try to make this a short post not to get caught up in a rant.
In the winter I see dog trainers in warmer parts of the world recommending indoor activities for rainy days and all I can think about is – if we followed the same protocol in Scotland, our dogs would never leave the house. On the other hand, the fear of taking your dog out in the sunshine which some Scots posses seems to lack perspective on the fact that many dogs around the world live in warm climates all year round. Lets be real. As much as I love the Scottish summer, it rarely gets so warm that it would be a danger to take your dog outside if you plan in advance. All it requires is being a bit more mindful of when, where and how you take your dog out. Our personal dogs get exercised, mentally and physically, regardless of whether it is winter, spring, summer or autumn. When it is cold, they wear coats and sometimes even boots. When it is warm, we get up early to get a session in before the temperatures rise and we make sure to bring extra water.
We have run the Doggie Day Trips for 5 years now, taking the dogs for 3+ hour hikes 5 days a week. So far, we have never had to cancel a single walk due to it being too hot or too cold. When the Beast from the East arrived, our van was snowed in for a week – but that is a different story! On warm summer days, we walk in the shade alongside streams and rivers, keep a slow tempo with breaks to just sit down and enjoy each other’s company. On rainy winter days, we stick to paths deep in the forest for protection. On stormy and windy days, we walk in open hills to avoid falling branches, and keep a fast pace to keep warm. The dogs come back home happy, content and relaxed after a day outdoors.
A common comment is that “My dogs won’t even go outside to pee when it is cold”. Really? Do you put your boots and coat on and go out with them? Are you excited to take them out, knowing that you will all feel better for it? Do not disregard your own attitude in regards to the behaviour of your dog. Seeing how we treat dogs as fragile creatures who may break under the slightest pressure or inconvenience, is it that strange that so many dogs today suffer from issues related to insecurity? Or the prominence of obesity in dogs?
This winter, make a commitment to be more active with your dog, even if you’ll have to motivate yourself with the thought of a good cuppa and a warm blanket when you come back home. If you want to complement your walks or other outdoor training with some extra mental stimulation, you can try these two easy nose games.