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Preparing Pups for Winter Weather

 In PPH Alaska, PPH Blog, Service Dog Training, Training

Winter weather can be a very harsh time of year that can seem daunting when you try to imagine getting your pup outside for some exercise or fun. However, there are processes you can take to make sure they are safe and prepared to enjoy this very interesting time of year.

You should make your dog as comfortable as possible when it comes to wearing things like jackets, vests, sweaters or boots early on. We start this process as young as possible so that not only are they comfortable with winter gear, but that they’re also happy to wear their PPH vests while working. We want to establish a positive experience and association for our canines by slowly introducing them to their winter gear, each time pairing the experience and the term “dress” with a lot of tasty treats to ensure that they will want to participate willingly in the future! When it comes to going out on a cold day in Alaska, we like to get our dogs used to wearing puffy jackets, as pictured above, that cover their backs from their necks down to their tails. It’s important to make sure the jacket fits snug enough that it will stay on and help trap in the warmth from the dogs’ fur and body heat, but that it also isn’t too tight that the dog can’t move around properly.

Margaret relaxing in her boots.
Margaret relaxing in her boots.

The process to get a dog to wear a jacket for cold weather is the same as with boots. Start off slow and steady with lots of rewards and even though it’s funny to watch, try just putting one boot on their paw at a time. If you put all four boots on at once, the dog might become overwhelmed or afraid of walking in them. Trying with one paw at a time and rewarding them with lots of love and praise is the best way to allow them to get used to their boots. Make sure when picking out the right boots for your dog that it securely straps around their “ankle” and won’t fall off once the dog starts moving around. Again, make sure the fit isn’t too snug so that your dog is able to safely move their foot around without being in pain.

It is also important to keep in mind the material of the bottom of the boot. We use a combination of boots that have a more rubber style bottom or a fabric one. Some even have threaded bottoms like hiking shoes, which are useful when walking on surfaces that can be icy. The fabric ones are also nice because they can act more like socks and help keep the dogs’ feet warm while also acting as a cozy material for the dog to put on their feet and walk around in.

Sometimes “trial and error” can be the best method to go about a new venture like this with your dog. Don’t feel bad if you try several different types of boots or jackets until you find one your dog seems to be pleased with. It’s all about keeping them safe, warm and happy while exploring during the winter months. Be sure to make it a fun experience for them and it’s okay to choose bright colors or fun patterns when dressing up your furry best friend.

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