Brrrr! Baby, it’s cold outside! With January, comes the arctic blast that reaches out to grasp the Northeast, causing temps to dip way down low to zero and below, with some wind chills up to 30 degrees below zero! And in some regions, it’s that cold without wind chills. Even areas of the south along the coast have seen snow! It’s enough to make Frosty freeze!
When the mercury drops, we have to remember our dogs can get cold, too. As the hu-mom to Siberian Huskies, the FiveSibes, this breed can, of course, stand the weather a bit colder than other breeds. Snow is their favorite past time! But that is not the case with every dog. My mom had many dogs, and Poodles were among them. Each one had a little knit sweater to go outside in, and the potty trips were fast!
With a northern, double-coated breed, such as a Siberian Husky, a material coat is not necessary, and you may even find yourself chasing your Husky around to convince her or him to come in out of the cold! While every dog’s tolerance to cold is different, one thing is for sure—they should never be left exposed to the elements, and extra care must be given on these freezing cold days. When cooped up indoors for long periods of time, exercise and mental stimulation are key to having happy dogs.
So what kinds of things can we do with our dogs when the thermometer says it is too cold to be outside?
Puzzle Me This
Brain stimulation is an excellent and healthy way to “exercise” a dog’s bored mind! And fun! Think of it as playing board games with your dogs. There are many “puzzles” out where a treat is hidden and dogs are taught and encouraged to find the treat by moving, tipping, spinning, or removing a puzzle piece. Be sure to have your camera on hand because I promise you some silly moments you’ll want to capture on film!
Oldies, But Goodies
Playing an indoor version of Fetch! Or Tug O’War can get as energetic as an outdoor game! If you have a long hallway in your house, even better! Just close the doors and use it as play space!
Teach An Older Dog New Tricks
Who says this can’t be done? Of course it can! Dogs love to learn! If your dog is a senior, choose a no-impact trick. Time, patience, positive reinforcement, and lots of high-value treats (ones you do not typically give so it makes it more tempting) can go a long way in teaching your older dog a new trick!
“The Voice”— K9 Edition
Having Siberian Huskies, one of their traits is they absolutely love to howl and sing and “woo,” and I love to hear them! But did you know you can teach other breeds and mixed breeds of dogs to sing too, with a little vocal teasing and, of course, treats! My childhood dog was an adopted German Shepherd that had been retired from the New York Police Department as a drug-sniffing K-9 officer. A pretty serious job, right? But, after some howling on my part (my neighbors must have thought I was a strange teen), she followed my lead and learned how to “sing!” So much fun! And remember to have your cell phone camera or video camera ready to record and cherish that music video forever!
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
As a photojournalist, photography is so important to me. It captures a mood, a moment—all without a single word. A photo freezes the moment in time so that you can go back and visit whenever you wish. So, when those winds are howling, what better way to keep warm and bond with your pet than by having an impromptu photo session? Those fun moments will become priceless keepsakes you will cherish forever.
Chill out when it’s freezing out? Absolutely! Go right ahead and snuggle up with your dog inside your warm house and enjoy a movie, read a book, or simply share some hugs and pets in front of the fireplace (real or faux). Time spent together with your dog is always time well spent.
So, go ahead and let Jack Frost nip at your nose! Just hustle on back inside your house with your furry best friend and spend the chilly day doing—well, lots of indoor things, or nothing at all! And here’s a warming thought—spring is only two months away!
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the FiveSibes.com, an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed and Canine Epilepsy information, as well as her international award-winning FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of "The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show. Dorothy is a 9-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2017 and 2016 for her writing, photography, and design. Dorothy was also named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram(@FiveSibesMom).