Let it Snow, Let it Snow…
‘Tis the season for early sunsets and dark walks, holiday travel, and holiday visitors who may or may not love your furry friends as much as you do.
Dark and Cold
Now that we’re nearing the end of the year, the sun is still dark for early morning walks and many of us are still at work as the sun sets. This means moonlit walks, and as romantic as that could be, moonlit walks means it’s time for some extra safety precautions. Wear bright colors and reflective clothing. Clip an LED light to your coat, and another to your dog’s collar to help drivers spot you. Invest in an LED, and reflective collar or leash to be extra visible. Bring a flashlight along for cleaning up after your pup, and wear a headlamp if you’ll be trekking away from city lights.
Winter weather means snow and ice in many parts of the country, and a simple cool down in others. Wherever you and your pup will be exploring, be sure you’re both dressed for the weather. Limit the amount of time your pup is allowed to roam the yard in especially cold weather and be wary of letting him off leash after a snowfall. Fresh snow can hide landmarks and the normal smells your dog is used to, allowing him to easily wander in the wrong direction should he be lost. Once you’re back indoors, give your dog’s paws a quick wipe down to get rid of any muck from melting snow, and sidewalk salt that can make him ill if he ingests too much while he’s licking his paws clean.
Whether you’re traveling by auto or air, be sure to pack ample supplies for both you and your pup in case of delays. Have any necessary vet records on hand, your cell phone number on your pet’s ID tags, and his favorite blanket or toy (that smells like home) for him to relax with once you’re at your destination. Even the most well-behaved dogs can get excited and run off when faced with new places and people, so be wary of letting your pup off leash. Find a local dog park or dog daycare to safely give him an off-leash outlet for his extra energy, if needed. If you’re staying somewhere that already has a resident dog, keep them separated when you’re not available to supervise. Let them meet gradually, and allow them to eat meals and sleep apart to prevent potential aggression.
Good Habits, Good Dog
While it’s always a good idea to keep up on your pup’s basic training, like sitting, staying, and not jumping on visitors, it’s especially important when you’re hosting a holiday event or expecting guests for the holidays. Brush up on his skills now–pick a dog-friendly spot where he can go to every time the doorbell rings. Offer up extra belly rubs when you come home and he keeps all four paws on the floor. Reward “leave it” every time you call your curious pup away from the Christmas tree. If it’s time to call in reinforcements, it’s never too late to call in a trainer or sign up for an obedience class to learn some new skills.
By Rachel Leisemann Immel