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I hate winter. Hate it. Can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate it. I’m a summer kind of person. I like wandering around outside in my bare feet, scrunching beach sand under my toes, debating whether I should put on some sunscreen or just stay outside and burn and peel. So, being of that sort of mindset, it’s really hard for me to try to get into a winter sort of mindset and do what I have to do for my dogs in terms of making sure that they’re exercised throughout the winter.
It’s really hard for me at this time of year. The joy of Christmas has pretty much come and gone, and I’m faced with dark, dark days. You know, the ones where you wake up in the dark and go to bed in the dark, and there’s precious little in between other than a bit of grey. It sucks.
So how do I get through the winter blahs? I work really hard at it. It’s not fair to Janice and Leroy if I just want to go to bed and pull the covers up over my head and wait for spring, much as I’d like to. I drag my tired, depressed ass out of bed every morning and try to make the most of the season.
Most of us have had a blast over the holiday season, with office parties and family get-togethers. Our dogs probably haven’t suffered much either, but as we wind down from the holidays, we usually want to just “cocoon” and ignore the nasty weather. When we do that, though, we’re ignoring the first rule of dog ownership, which is that no matter what’s going on in our lives, our dogs need to be exercised. Remember, your dog needs to be exercised to the point where he’s worn out, or he’s not going to be happy. So you’re just going to have to fight of the “seasonal blahs” and do what needs to be done for your dog. Here’s how to do it.
Make a snowman. Your dog will run around behind you while you roll up the snowballs. Make some small snowballs, and throw them for him to fetch. Sure, they might disappear in the rest of the snow, but he’ll still have fun looking for them. And besides, there are all those birds and squirrels and other animals out in your back yard that your dog is interested in. Get out there and have a good time.
Forget about the weather. Just bundle up, and take a walk no matte what’s going on. As long as you’re dressed for conditions, and those conditions aren’t unsafe (in which case you should, of course, stay home), there’s no reason why you can’t have a good time.
Now, don’t tell me your dog is too delicate to go for a walk in the snow! There’s practically no such thing as a breed that can’t be outdoors at this time of year. If you’re really compulsive, put some booties on your dog. And when you bring your dog home, if his paws are sore from snow and ice, slap on some balm so he’ll be ready to go out again tomorrow.
What dog doesn’t love to go for rides in the car? It doesn’t really much matter where you go, as long as there are exciting things to see. Drive around town, or head out into the burbs. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, you can always go for a drive. Of course, don’t leave your dog unattended in your vehicle – that can be just as bad in cold weather as it is in the heat of summer.
Going for drives doesn’t even have to involve getting out of the car. I often take Janice and Leroy down to the local convenience store where I pick up a newspaper and chat with the store owner. Then sometimes we go to the bank. I park in the lot, and people always seem to want to come up to my car and make friends with my beautiful Boxers. Then it’s off to Starbucks, where I grab a latte and the guy at the drive-thru gives treats to Janice and Leroy.
I have asthma, so sometimes the next stop on our agenda is the drive-thru pharmacy. I get my meds, and again, Janice and Leroy get treats. Wherever we go, they’re hardly ever disappointed.
Sometimes, too, we stop by the vet clinic. Not because anybody is sick – just to say hello and get weighed. Stephen and his staff are always happy to see Janice and Leroy.
Actually, I’m always amazed at how many places are glad to see my dogs!
This time of year I’m always thinking about ways to improve my home. I bring home buckets of paint, wallpaper, paneling and other stuff. Janice and Leroy are always curious about what’s going on, and most of the time, the people at the building supply stores are happy to socialize with them. I usually leave with a smile on my face.
Sometimes, of course, you don’t have much of a choice but to stay at home. If the weather is really bad, and you don’t want to venture out, use the time to reinforce some basic training. If your dog already knows all the basics, like stay, sit, come and so on, work on other skills like “leave it” or the long down. Get some treats, and get to work. You have a warm, comfortable home, so use it to work on enhanced training.
How about turning mealtime into play time? Get yourself a food puzzle that intrigues your dog, or hide treats around the house. Your dog will have fun finding the treats, and get a lot of mental stimulation.
Okay, I’m not big on baking. In fact, I’m not much of a cook at all. But there are a lot of dog treat recipes that can be baked up in very little time. A quick Google search will give you a ton of recipes that your dog will love. Here’s a great one: http://www.dogtreatkitchen.com/ peanut-butter-dog-biscuit-recipe.html
There’s nothing wrong with napping. Sometimes, it’s just a dark, crappy day an all you really want to do is get under the covers with your dog. Sometimes, it’s just snuggle time, and that’s okay. So make some cookies, and when they’re done, put them on the counter to cool. Then, call your dog and make a beautiful little nest under the covers with your bestest, warmest friend next to you and just drift off.
There’s no law that says you have to be up and doing things 24/7. You can snuggle in bed with your dog if you like. There’s something to be said for warmth and comfort, and the feeling that you have when you’re saying, “I’m here with my friend, and it couldn’t possibly be any better. I will go to sleep now.”
I think what I’m trying to say is that you should just enjoy spending time with your dog. That’s what you got him for in the first place.Remember why you got your dog – for love and companionship, and someone to snuggle up with on these cold winter nights.
So I think that’s about all I have to say right now. Remember the love, my friends. Treasure it. In the final analysis, it’s all that matters.