Guest blog by Darlene Arden, CABC; author Small Dogs, Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring for Your Little Dog
Winter has arrived for pets and people, and for most of us it truly has come in like a lion with snowstorms throughout much of the country. Even some places that don’t usually see snow have been graced by a white blanket. It looks pretty when it has first fallen but then you and your dog have to deal with it. If you have a small dog – 21 pounds or less – or even a larger dog like a Greyhound with a very short haircoat, your dog needs some extra attention.
Small dogs lose body heat rapidly because they have a smaller body surface. While you may think that dressing your dog up in clothes is silly, when it comes to small dogs and winter, it is purely practical. Your small dog is going to need a warm coat or sweater before going outside. You don’t want to simply turn your dog loose, either. Go with your dog for a walk, even if the walk is just on your own property.
Also, don’t keep the dog outside for a very long period of time. Some dogs, like Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are meant to be out in the snow and they have the coat and size that are appropriate for the elements. Your small or short-coated dog simply isn’t built for cold weather and snowy climates. Go out with your dog, be sure he does what he has to do, and then judge whether or not it’s too cold for a short play session before returning indoors.
Remember that dogs can get frostbite, too. Some people opt to train their little dog to use a litterbox when it’s too frigid or the snow is too deep. This is a good option for the elderly owner who needs to be especially careful when there’s ice on the pavement.
Remember to wipe off your dog’s paws. If you’ve gone for a longer walk, or if you put regular ice melt down on your driveway, your dog will lick those paws and ingest it and you don’t want that to happen.
You can use your time indoors to good advantage to exercise your little dog’s body and his mind. Set up a homemade agility course, having him run under chairs and through a hoop if you have one. Or teach him to jump over a low baton. You can clicker train (operant conditioning) your dog to do all sorts of tricks. Short training sessions are best.
Snuggling with your pet and looking out at the snow is often your best option with a little dog.
Tags: Alaskan Malamutes, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Darlene Arden, dogs frostbite, IAABC, pets jackets, pets sweaters, salt pets, Siberian Huskies, small dogs, Small Dogs Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring for Your Little Dog, Steve Dale archives, toy dogs winter, winter pet safety