It's Winter and I’m sure we’ve all noticed by now that the evenings are getting darker, especially those of us who work nine to five, are in college or in school. At 5:30 p.m it might as well be the middle of the night! This can make walking your dog even more of a challenge than it may already be, considering the low visibility conditions that the Winter can bring. With that in mind; we’ve consulted with our sales assistants to bring you 8 tips to make sure you’re safe and seen when walking your dog during these cold Winter evenings. Let’s jump right in!
Tip 1: Don’t stray off the beaten path.
While you may be thinking that the shorter evenings are no match for your dog walking prowess, it may be in your best interests to stick to a route you know, especially if it is well lit. If you live in the country this may be a problem but we have other tips that can help you keep safe! In any case, we advise that you don’t stray off your regular route, always let someone know where you are going, when you plan on being back and always bring your mobile phone. Following any of those guides will ensure that someone always knows where you are and that if you run into trouble you can contact a family member or friend.
Tip 2: Never assume that you can be seen.
“Be grand...” – Old Irish Proverb.
No it won't I'm afraid; it is never safe to assume that drivers on the road can see you, especially if you walk your dog on country roads or on similar routes. It is up to drivers to make sure their lights are on and their car is visible, so it is up to you to make sure that you can be seen by them. This can be easily achieved by bringing a small light with you, wearing high visibility jackets, arm bands, leads or even having your dog wear a high visibility vest or flashing collar! Not only will you be safe but your canine companion will be protected too! Winter is no excuse to stop walking your dog, but it is the best excuse to break out the high visibility gear and flashing lights!
Tip 3: Short evenings bring colder nights.
While this is not directly related to Winter visibility, it is important to mention that as the Winter progresses, it will only get colder. We can throw on a scarf, coat, gloves and other warming apparel, but our poor canines were left freezing… before the introduction of our dog jumper and coat ranges! Simply pop into any one of our stores and we can get your best ‘four-legged’ friend kitted out in his very own Winter gear! We can even get him a coat or jacket to match your own! Your dog will definitely need a coat or jumper if he has been recently groomed and it may also be no harm to get a nail trim which can help your dog gain traction on ice or snow.
Tip 4: Safety in numbers.
Many of us (myself included) cherish the time we spend with our animals, especially on team building exercises such as walks, though it may be worthwhile bringing a friend and their pet along for the journey! Two people and two dogs wearing high visibility gear are much easier to see than a lone pair. As well as that, two people are much less of a target for crime than a lone person and dog. The other benefit is that you will have someone to chat to, making the time pass even quicker (which can slow to a standstill when it’s really cold!). Even if your friend doesn’t have a dog or similar animal that needs walking, ask them anyway! They might just enjoy themselves...
Tip 5: Know the weather.
While our Winters may not bring White Walkers (any Game of Thrones fans?), they certainly bring unpredictable conditions. Stay up to date with weather alerts and know when to stay in. Foggy conditions are a definite no-no as sight lines can be reduced to only a couple of feet for both pedestrians and drivers. Rain is ok, as long as you wrap up your dog well. Snow (as unlikely as it may be) is fine as long as you take your time and ensure that your dog doesn't eat any of it. Any conditions that would impair someone’s ability to drive is a bad time to take your dog for a walk, especially if you live in the countryside. Wait until the weather clears or just leave the walk for that evening. It may be no harm to invest in a pair of Trixie dog walking boots, for use during freezing temperatures. If you find that your dog's paws are cracking from the cold we suggest using Pet Head Balm to ease your dog's pain and speed up the recovery time!
Tip 6: Know your limit, and your dog’s.
While we can interpret weather conditions and adjust our strategies accordingly, our canine companions cannot. Smaller pets may be easily exacerbated by the colder weather, while bigger dogs may be weighed down during heavy rains (damp fur…). Understand that your dog has a limit and never go past it; let him enjoy his usual walk and go home. Spring and Summer are perfect times to test your pet and put them through their paces, but during Winter take it easy. If your dog doesn’t feel like leaving the warmth of your home on a particularly bad evening don’t force him to. Let your dog decide how much he wants to do and never stray far from your regular walking route. If a walk is completely out of the question, spend the hour or two that you normally would walking by stimulating your dog's mind with toys or other games like fetch or catch!
Tip 7: Warming your pet when you return home.
It can be very easy for us to come home, get changed, shower and start a roaring fire but it's not so easy for our four-legged friends! If you do return home from a particularly cold walk: Turn the heating on straight away or set a timer for it to have been on while you were away. Prepare a warm towel and pat down your pet, or better still; Run a warm bath and give your dog a gentle scrub. Either method is perfect as long as you properly dry your dog afterwards. This can be achieved with towels or more traditionally with a blazing open fire! Ensuring that your dog is warm is essential, especially when the temperature dips below zero. This will prevent colds and fevers while also making your dog feel happier and content.
Tip 8: Seek advice for pet care during Winter.
If this is your first Winter with a pet, it may be no harm seeking advice from a member of our staff or your trusted vet. Either party will be more than able to assist you and your best pet friend during these colder months. We can offer supplements, clothing and diet instructions that will help prepare your pet for everything that may come his or her way during these harsh times!
We really hope these tips help you be safe and be seen during the short evenings. If you’re ever unsure of anything or ever want to come and get your pet sized for a jumper or coat, simply pop into one of our stores and our dedicated sales team will be more than happy to help you!
From everyone here at Equipet, we hope you’ll be extra careful this Winter.
Until next time Pet-Pals!