Most dog breeds were bred to work for a living and a particular purpose, like hunting, herding or providing protection. Wild dogs scavenge and hunt, care for offspring, defend territory and play with each other. They lead busy, complex lives, interacting socially and solving simple problems necessary for their survival.
Modern “pet” dogs no longer receive this level of stimulation and spend much of their time confined, alone and/or inactive. As a dog owner, you have a responsibility to fill this void.
Many of the dogs seen by The Way of The Dog have behavioural issues that are a consequence of lack of stimulation, interaction and daily exercise. This is most prevalent in the winter months, when dark mornings and evenings combine with cold (and often wet) weather to dissuade dog owners from providing the quality of exercise their dog requires. Every dog needs good quality daily exercise; this is a basic fact of dog ownership and should have been considered when bringing a dog into your life.
Lack of daylight and adverse weather conditions should not affect the levels of exercise you give your dog.
Be Seen, Stay Safe, Keep Warm
Staying safe on dark walks is as simple as being visible, being aware and wrapping up warm. Here are a few of our tips to help you and your dog stay safe and warm on your winter walks.
- Use a Hi-Vis reflective or led light lead and collar on your dog.
- Wear a Hi-Vis reflective vest over your coat.
- Carry a torch or use a headlamp.
- Avoid unlit roads.
- Avoid roads that have no pavement.
- If you cannot avoid roads without a pavement, walk on the right hand side (towards the traffic) with your dog to your right (on the opposite side to the traffic).
- Keep your dog on the lead.
- Use well lit walks that you are familiar with.
- Consider taking your dog in the car to a well lit safe area.
- Do you have a neighbour with a dog? Arrange to walk together.
- Remain aware of your surroundings; leave your headphones at home.
- Carry a mobile phone
- Bad weather requires appropriate clothing; a warm waterproof jacket, waterproof overtrousers, warm sturdy footwear, a hat and a good pair of gloves are the bare essentials.
- It is our experience that the best quality outdoor coat and boots should be purchased according to your budget.
- Consider your dog’s breed, age and health to decide if they require additional insulation.
- Keep moving; if you stand still you’ll feel the chill.
Other Winter Considerations
We have previously written an article that outlines some of the hazards to your dog’s safety and wellbeing in winter, which can be viewed at www.thewayofthedog.co.uk/winter-care-for-dogs/. We’d recommend that you read this as some of the points raised could save your dog’s life.
If you still feel unable to give your dog the exercise and stimulation it needs, there are a few things you could consider.
- Finding a way to change the times that you walk your dog.
- Enlisting the help of family members and friends.
- Employing a reputable, licensed, 1 to 1 dog walker.
- Rehoming your dog.
Article by Heppiness