Winter Dog Walks: A Guide to Safe Wintertime Walking

dog snowOh, the weather outside is frightful! Despite falling temperatures and falling snow, dogs still need their exercise. Though winter walks pose several safety hazards, with a little preparation, you and your dogs will be out enjoying the winter wonderland in no time.

First, reinforce safe behavior from your dog. With freezing temperatures come slick conditions. If your dog is a puller, ice patches can be treacherous. Inside your house or in your backyard, practice a loose-leash walk. Reward your dog with a treat, a toy, or praise whenever he trots nicely at your side. When he gets ahead or starts to tug on the leash, plant you feet and wait until he returns to your side. Reward him by continuing on your walk. Once he starts to understand what you want, put a command to the behavior like “heel” or “with me.”

Another safe behavior to train is “stop.” If you find yourself losing your footing on an icy path, being able to stop your dog’s progress before you fall is critical. Practice at home with your dog on leash. Start to walk, then halt. When your dog stops, reward him with praise or a treat. Eventually work in the cue word. If you can count on your dog not to pull you down the street or to stop if conditions become dangerous, you’ll both have a safer, much more enjoyable walk.

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