January isn’t the most forgiving time of year for dog walking, especially in the city.
Luckily, Walk Your Dog Month inspires us to keep on our toes, and with some stylish booties for both pup and you, to strut in. So start the New Year with a resolution to step it up when you step out with your dog. Show the love by being the best dog walker you can be.
Know Before Your Go
Your pup should be dressed (or not), for the occasion. If they have short hair, they’ll need a coat. If they have long hair, that may or may not be necessary. Shivering is a sign that they need to be warmer and you shouldn’t go too far on your excursion. After all, how would you feel if things were the other way around and you were going for long walks while underdressed in the cold?
Also, be sure to take care of those paws! Christopher Turi, CEO of Hotel Bark Ave says, “Sometimes the salt & chemicals on the sidewalks irritate dogs paws, so we suggest dipping their paws in a special balm (like Musher’s Cream) to protect the pads of their feet during the walk.” If your dog is comfortable wearing booties, by all means put the cute shoes on for the ultimate in protection, but be mindful of whether your pup is comfortable in apparel (or not). If it is too cold to go outside and you need an indoor alternative, he adds, “Take them to Hotel Bark Ave – our spacious indoor and outdoor facility located on E 103rd St & Lexington Avenue.” Assuming the weather isn’t too cold and you are both up for the exercise though, it is good you are now prepped for saucy strutting success while you are…
Walking on (Snow)shine
Now that you are stepping out and ready to step it up, it is important to keep your dog relaxed by being vigilant of surroundings and others, especially other dogs.
Ruff City Leader of the Pack, Stacia Anderson, takes care to have a plan for awareness and follow-up regarding potential hostility between dogs. She says, “Dogs are just like people, and there are some dogs that don’t like other dogs for a plethora of unknown reasons. In these situations, we always try to get ahead of the curve by always watching the pup’s body language that we’re with. Subtle signs like ears going back, change in posture, lip licking and vocal cues (whining or growling) are clear indicators that the pup is not comfortable. So in these situations, we’ll always make sure to skirt as far away from the approaching dog as we can. On the very rare occasions when altercations happen, we’ll separate the dogs as quickly as possible and then check over the dogs for any lacerations or bite marks, then exchange contact information with the other owner for any necessary post-altercation contact regarding veterinary exams. We also notify the clients immediately of what happened so they are aware, and if it’s an ongoing issue, we will refer them to a trainer that can better help the dog (and owner!) address the dog reactivity issues.” Avoiding conflict is of course ideal, but the reality that something could happen is good to be prepped for. Practice awareness.
In addition, while walking it is important to make sure your dog doesn’t do anything that’ll make them sick. Usually the cold doesn’t get dogs as sick as contact with another sick dog, but what they ingest while walking can be an issue. Christine Georg, Operations Manager for Throw Me a Bone Inc has some great advice for keeping your dog healthy during walks. She says, “Avoid standing puddles of water (some dogs use that as an opportunity to take a drink), and areas around garbage cans. Some dogs are “street snackers” and they will eat anything they think looks tasty — even poo!”
While out on the walk, also be sure to be mindful of the shakes! “Dogs will shiver if they feel cold. If you notice your dog is pulling home when she/he normally enjoys walks, acts slow, or stops a lot, cut the walk short. Some dogs love snow and cold weather, and some don’t. When it is below 32 degrees, we advise making walks short, and playing at home for the remainder of the time, after dogs do their business,” say Kira and Paulo Rocha, owners of NY Tails.
Salt in the City
You are back in the house, your dog has been relieved, and it is time to do one last thing. Make sure to check the paws and remove any ice, dirt and debris. Also, Anderson adds, “salt can cause major stomach upset and gastrointestinal issues, so we always recommend that pups’ feet are wiped down with unscented baby wipes or a warm and wet paper towel when they return inside – we actually encourage this practice year round regardless of weather to keep pups happy and healthy in the city” or on your heavily salted neighborhood sidewalks.
Now that your are prepped with the complete “how-to” guide on how to step it up and step out, we hope you enjoy your powder snow walks with your pup.