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Qs about exercising dog in cold weather

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by patandchickens, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    More new dog owner questions here, thank you all for your patience [​IMG]

    (Please note that these are questions for people with experience in actual-winter climates; I am not talking about 'cold weather' in L.A. or Orlando LOL.)

    (Also, if it matters, the dog in question is a 8.5 month old yellow lab, smaller and more lightly built than typical labs though and with a single and not especially thick coat. He does not go outside alone -- his outdoor time is all on walks with us or doing play/training stuff in the back yard or just wandering around looking for sticks and voles (within my view) while I do other things outside.)

    1) what kind and how much warmup do you give a dog before asking/letting him "run run run", when it is around freezing? Below freezing? 0 F or lower? (Usually I figure just a few minutes of brisk walking or letting him trot around sniffing for voles in the back yard is enough when the weather is warm (?). But while I have a good idea how to calibrate a *horse's* warmup to the weather, with dogs I haven't a clue).

    2) how do I know when it is too cold for him to be out for too long, this winter? (We get down to like -30 F at times, and often have days when it doesn't get above 0 F). Are there parts of a dog you check for frostbite etc? Aside from shivering, how do I know when the walk or playtime should be over? (My children do not generally have the sense to come in when they are cold, so I am not expecting Russell to, either... although I dunno, maybe dogs are smarter than kids <g>).

    3) any other cold weather dog-ownership advice?

    Thanks, sorry to be so clueless but y'all and Russell are gradually educating me [​IMG],

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  2. Crazyland

    Crazyland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 14, 2009
    Sandhills NC
    Watch his paws and ears for damage.
    He can acclimate himself slowly to the weather if you let him. But he won't be able to stay forever outside. But with him being inside more I would get him a jacket and boots. They make a cream you put on the dogs paws when they will have a lot of contact with snow and Ice to protect them, but I don't like it since the dogs can lick it off.
    I don't get from your writing that you expect to be outside for hours. With those temps I wouldn't be outside for long. The lowest we've handled is in the teens and we would still go for 2 hour walks with no jacket or boots. The dogs ran enough to keep themselves warm.
     
  3. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL. I live in AK and have never worried about these things with any of my dogs. I find that without fail, I am ready to go in before the dogs are, and i'm talking beagles and poodle mixes, not huskies. They are amazingly adaptable creatures. Many dogs of all breeds spend the entire winter outdoors with insulated dog houses filled with straw, and i have never seen a case of frostbite.

    The only thing i would suggest is watching the feet, if you're running him on rough surfaces get him some booties.

    What kind of exercise are you looking to do?
     
  4. Thunder Bay Chicken

    Thunder Bay Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 21, 2010
    North of Thunder Bay
    I have seven dogs other then my staffy bull the rest do very well outside...

    A Labs coat is design for bad weather. Pat , think about what the breed was designed for.

    Do not worry about him too much, the boots and jacket idea is just silly to me.

    My two intact males sleep in the insulated garage at night but live outside in runs during the day full time no matter the temp.

    They both have covered areas and access to a box filled with wood shavings and straw.

    I give them extra food and fresh water in the winter but very little else changes.

    They all can run all they want no matter the weather and are fine... as far as problem areas go the feet /pads can dry and crack or get cut on ice and snow.

    Also if the dog starts lifting paws up check for clumps of frozen snow between the pads can be painful to walk on and pulls on the hair.

    I know it is very cold out when the kennels are quiet but were talking mid minus -20's and -30's...

    The staffy bull is a inside dog other then a quick run around the yard for a poo and pee then back to the door she also hates rain, spoiled show dog!

    My hunters patterdales and russells love being outside even in the bad weather.

    The only other problem I ever experienced with dogs and snow was very deep snow and larger breeds can hurt their joints and limbs running... I had a mastiff years ago who constantly hurt his front legs running in the deep snow. He would be running and then would yelp, then limp for a day or two.. I think it was his ankle joint.

    Winter can be a really fun time for a dog, get out with him and enjoy it!

    EDIT Heres a picture of the kennel from the back door... I just took it now!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Hey Crazyland, I did a lot of fieldwork in the sandhills back when I was in grad school, in the game lands in Scotland county. That is not the kind of winter weather I'm talking about, LOL (yes, I realize you are probably offering advice based on having previously lived in colder places, and I appreciate it -- I'm just easily amused today, sorry [​IMG])

    I find that without fail, I am ready to go in before the dogs are, and i'm talking beagles and poodle mixes, not huskies.

    Oh, I am definitely ready to go in before the dog will be, here too -- I am SO not a winter person. I do not miss NC summers but having the teens F be a really cold day is an awfully attractive position now that I live in Canada [​IMG]

    They are amazingly adaptable creatures. Many dogs of all breeds spend the entire winter outdoors with insulated dog houses filled with straw, and i have never seen a case of frostbite. The only thing i would suggest is watching the feet, if you're running him on rough surfaces get him some booties.

    OK, thanks!

    What kind of exercise are you looking to do?

    Nothing major, just whatever it takes to take the sillies out of his adolescent self so that he does not destroy the house or eat the cats [​IMG] Up til now he's been getting at least a 45 minute brisk hilly walk per day plus 1-4 hrs outside milling around or playing with us (he likes tracking-type and agility-type games). However the total time spent outdoors is going to have to be cut down when the real cold sets in (I have a 3 yr old son who just can't be outside for real long when it's quite cold) so I am hoping to increase the % time spent really runnin' around to compensate. It's a small house, he can't be running around in *here* [​IMG]

    Thanks very much both of you,

    Pat​
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Yeah but he does not have a typical thick double lab coat. He ain't a greyhound but there's not nearly as much depth of fur as there is on a "good" lab. He also hates rain, puddles, or getting wet in bodies of water. <rolls eyes>

    Winter can be a really fun time for a dog, get out with him and enjoy it!

    I'd enjoy it a lot more if it weren't *winter*. LOL

    Thanks very much for the suggestions,

    Pat​
     
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Well, some may laugh at my suggestion, but you might try this site: http://www.chicksaddlery.com/page/CDS/CTGY/4950 They carry very reasonably priced dog vests. My dane is very short haired, and it's already a battle to get him outside in just 30/40 degree weather (or in the rain [​IMG]). I can't imagine what it'll be like when cold and snow actually hit us. There are also many sites that sell waterproof booty-things.
     
  8. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    A dog that mostly lives inside, doesn't get much of a thick winter coat - even if it looks fairly thick, it isn't like what the dog would have were he living outdoors all the time, it is somewhat less.

    I'm careful of short haired house dogs outdoors. While a dog's circulation is designed to keep him warm, and he does better than a human in the same temperature even if he DOES spend most of his time indoors, I'm still careful.

    I've lived in very cold, snowy, wet areas all my life, and periods of time when it doesn't get above 0F all day are not rare here.

    Most of the winter where I am now, daily temperatures are about in the mid twenties, and it's colder at night. It can rain while it's in the twenties here (oh yes, LOL). It can also get very windy, wet, humid and cold, all at the same time. I'm more concerned on those days.

    The biggest worry for house dogs in winter, usually is salt and ice melting chemicals. These can really damage the feet. I find it's quite a challenge to find a good place to walk dogs away from any ice melting chemicals. Much of the time, when they hold up their paws, it's actually the ice-melting chemicals making them hurt or burn, or collect balls of ice. But ice can also form in the paws on the very humid, cold wet days, and wet snow can be very sticky to the paws.

    The second biggest worry is lack of fitness. Most dogs get out for a run infrequently, and often, when people get a bur up their butt to go skiing or sledding, the very unfit dog winds up out running around like mad for hours, and in that situation can easily injure a tendon, ligament or just generally get over worked. I feel like a dog needs to be treated like an athlete, if I haven't been working him and he's not in shape, he may have to stay home or stay on a leash and sit and watch for part of it, when we go tobogganing for six hours.

    People also tend to leave that stuff out where dogs can get to it, as well as chuck antifreeze containers here and there, something else to keep an eye out for at parks and on walks.

    I usually try to clip the hair between the pads of the paws before the snow starts, so they don't have any long hairs between the pads to gather ice. I used to have a pad hardener product, I put on starting in the fall, especially for the younger dogs whose pads aren't as well formed.

    What kind of warmup when it's cold - as much as I'd give a horse before he gallops. I don't feel the temperature makes much difference there, unless the hair is really, really thin. If it's below ten or so, I don't usually let the dogs do more than a good strong trot - horses too. I don't want them opening up their lungs to the absolute maximum below ten or so, it seems to go along with more respiratory infections. If they're frolicking around and stopping when they feel like it, they aren't blowing out to the max, but if they're running along side a snowmobile or something like that for a longer period, I think that's pretty maximum.

    I don't check for frostbitten ears periodically, because I don't have them out if they could get frostbitten, and keeping melting chemicals off them helps. We used to have a wet bulb sling sychrometer(sp), now I look on the web to see what the 'feels like' index is, and look at how exposed they are to wind, etc. We've gone skiing on some frostbite days when we were going to stay in the woods and not get out in the open.

    I do sometimes put a blanket on a dog. If it's very wet and the water is icing up on the dog's back, I am concerned the insulation is getting wet. But most of my dog blankets are more like a raincoat - and are not thick insulated things. I'd consider getting such a thing for a greyhound, pharoah hound, or the like, but not a regular dog.

    We were skiing the High Country Pathway when the temperature was 0F. My Samoyed leaped into the river, came out, shook off, and before the water froze on her (incredibly heavy, long) coat, she dove into a bank of fluffy snow. We could hear her yipping, wiggling and bouncing around in there under the snow. When she came out, she was dry. So, at times, they do exhibit some sort of sense about cold weather. If she hadn't done that, the water would have frozen on her and she would have been dragging around about 30 lbs of ice, and, even she, I think would have been dangerously cold, as well as physically stressed.

    We did get caught in a very severe blizzard while skiing with the dogs. We had no idea the blizzard was coming. It was a freak. It was extremely severe, we could not see our hands in front of our faces, so we skiied with our arms over our faces to keep the (stinging) snow from our faces. The dogs had quite a great time at the beginning. The snow was so heavy and wet it got into their fur, and the English Sheepdog cross started to get cold and shivver. The Samoyed, no, never, not in a million years.

    We got back to the car, we could not get it out. We were able to move it about a foot after digging for a half hour or so, then it would dig in and stall.

    I now think very, very carefully before I go out with the dogs in winter, that I have a (series of) plans to get me and them back if it's very cold, and the plans need to not involve me having to perform any heroics that would wind up with ME getting frostbite!

    Dogs have no sense about cold. It's basically like 'Doug' in 'Up'....'squirrel?' and that's the end of that.

    How do you know how long they should be out? I just go by how I feel, if I am getting bad off, with all my insulated, high tech gear, I know they are bad off.

    3) any other cold weather dog-ownership advice?

    just be careful to wash off or towel off as best one can, the snow melting chemicals. And watch out for the antifreeze, people tend to toss the containers all over in winter.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
  9. Crazyland

    Crazyland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 14, 2009
    Sandhills NC
    LOL Yes, I have only lived here a year. [​IMG] It is pretty mild weather.
     
  10. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2010
    Anchorage, AK
    I do agree with a lot of what WelsummerChick said. Especially the ice melting chemical warning and warnings about ice. I have seen many dogs with injuries caused by running on ice, pulling and tearing things, breaking things. DON'T PLAY FETCH ON GLARE ICE, lol. Seems like common sense, but I guess it's not.

    I live out in the country and don't have to worry about the chemicals so much, but if you're somewhere this is a problem, it's just one more reason to throw on some booties. Booties are more for protection than for warmth. Even something like PAWz which are little rubber balloon type booties provide some traction and lots of protection.

    I also agree with what she said about about being careful with really vigorous, prolonged exercise. That's why I asked about what kind you were looking at doing. I generally think anything the dog is doing with you alongside on foot is mostly going to be ok, but if you're looking at putting them on a bike or sled or running them alongside a machine or horse, they do need some warm up time first.
     

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