Friday, October 10, 2014

Preparing the dogs for winter (think: clothes, beds and more!)

Sinead the Boston terrier without a sweater

Right now, it's over 80 degrees in my home town. But, the weather forecasters say that cooler weather is coming. Next week, for example, we're supposed to dip down into the high 60s, with temps in the 50s at night. That means winter is coming, and there's one little dog here that needs to get ready.

Bostons don't have a lot of fur, and Sinead is smaller than the average Boston. Put these two things together, and you have a little dog that shakes like crazy when the weather is cool. And if I don't want to spend all winter watching her shiver, I have to do some prep.

Sinead the Boston terrier in a sweater

Sweaters are an important part of the planning process. Now, many people think it's cruel to put a dog in any kind of clothing. But little dogs with little fur just aren't capable of keeping their bodies warm without a little help. A sweater helps to trap in body heat, and that means that she can wander around in cool temperatures without really suffering.

Two dogs in one dog bed

Heated beds are also quite helpful, and even furry Liam likes to take advantage of those. I use a heating pad on a very low setting, and I turn it on in the morning when these guys come to work with me, and I turn it off in the evening when I leave. They love to snuggle on the heat.

It's important, however, to resist the temptation to use a heating pad on a dog that can't get away from the heat source. I don't use these products in Sinead's crate, for example, as she can't move away. And if she were injured and unable to move with ease, I wouldn't use it at all. Burns can happen with lightening speed, so it's best to avoid the temptation to put heat pads anywhere and everywhere.

Sinead with one leg extended

In the spring and summer, Sinead spends a lot of time in the yard, lying in the sun or chasing bugs. She entertains herself. But in the winter, she simply doesn't like to go outside. It's cold, it's wet and it's just not appealing. As a result, I try to keep her toy box filled with new and exciting options when the weather is cooler. A variety of different choices helps to keep her entertained, and if I throw the toys periodically, she'll get some much-needed exercise, too.

Two dogs waiting by the door

Finally, I also make sure to reiterate good house-training habits in the fall. Liam and Sinead are trained to ring this bell when they want to go outside, and I make sure that they're both ringing that thing like crazy when the weather is cooler. (I reinforce that good habit with treats.) Pups can get lazy about going outside when the weather is bad, so it pays to remind them of what good habits look like, and how rewarding good habits can be.

So while I'm not looking forward to the cold, I think I have a good plan of action. Have I missed anything? Chat me up in the comments and let me know.

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