Check the surfaces you are walking on. Put the back of your hand to the ground and leave it there for five seconds. Grass is the coolest surface, and shade is always welcome!
Watch your pup for overheating or signs of labored breathing. Offer them shade and cool water. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.
Never leave your pup in the car on hot days. Shade with the windows down is nice for a few minutes, but even that can get over 100 on a hot day. I love this video Grounds & Hounds did on how miserable & dangerous being in a hot car is!
Swimming is obviously a fun water activity, but not every pup enjoys the water. Using toys in the shallows will get them comfortable around water and getting their paw pads into cool water will help them cool down. Kiddie pools are great for those that don’t want to swim!
Sprinklers and misters are fun ways to cool down if your dog is willing. A mister is a little easier to get acquainted with, sprinklers might take some positive reinforcement and some water play on your part!
Toys that you can fill and freeze are refreshing for hot days, and having some on hand will save you when it’s too hot to go outside for enrichment!
Stay Cool Inside & Out
Have your pup wear a wet bandana, shirt, or cooling vest to keep them cool on walks. Shirts and vest also help those who get sunburned!
Get a cooling mat they can lay on. It might take some conditioning to get your pup used to laying on the mat, but once they do it’ll keep them cool!
Keep up on grooming and be sure to brush out those hot undercoats. Remember, not every dog’s coat is meant to be shaved, so consult a professional if you want to take off some of that fluff. Weekly brushings are usually enough to keep the extra weight off!
Have fun mixing up some frozen treats for your pup! You blend up any of their favorite fruits, veggies, or proteins and pour into an ice cube tray to make some pupsicles!
There are a whole lotta critters out there! And you might encounter one or two while on a hike with your pup! It’s always a good idea to have some basic knowledge of who you might meet on the trail, and who you should avoid. Let’s explore some of the smaller animals found around Central Oregon.
Small Mammals- Chipmunks, squirrels, moles, voles, gophers, and marmots are all very fun things to chase! But if caught & digested they can make your pup very sick. Small mammals can carry parasites, fleas, and a variety of diseases. If ingested your pup could get have a bad reaction. Tapeworms are a very common result to ingesting small animals. Teaching a “leave it” or “drop it” cue can be very beneficial if your pup is into critter chasing. Make sure your pup is up to date on parasite preventatives to keep them protected.
Rattlesnakes- There are two types of rattlesnakes that live in Central Oregon; the Great Basin Rattlesnake and the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. Both of these snakes are hearty in weight, have stubby tails equipped with jointed rattles, and have triangular-shaped heads. The Great Basin Rattlesnake is tan, light green, or grey in color. The Southern Pacific Rattlesnake ranges in color from dark brown to greenish brown to gray. You don’t have to memorize the differences between them, all you have to remember is not to go near one. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will only attack if they feel threatened, but if you accidentally step on one they will respond. It is a good idea to do snake training with your pup so that they never go near one while out on the trail. If you or your pup is bit by a rattlesnake, call an ambulance or haul ass to your nearest emergency vet. There is a vaccination that your pup can get, which helps slow the rate at which the venom travels through the blood and your pup will experience less pain. YOU MUST STILL GO TO THE VET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Stock photos Left: Great Basin Rattlesnake Right: Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
Skunks- There are two types of skunks in Oregon, the spotted and the striped. They are both black and white, but the spotted is spotted, and the striped is striped. Imagine that. Both of these skunks will spray a acrid musk when threatened, so keep a safe distance if you see one. If your pup gets sprayed check their eyes and flush them with cool water, then give them an outdoor bath to remove the skunk oil from their coat. If you’ve tried tomato juice before you’ll know it doesn’t work very well. Instead try an off the shelf remedy from your pet store or create a mixture of 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Work into your pups fur and rinse thoroughly. Do not leave the solution on for long because the peroxide could bleach their coat. And do not get it near their eyes. Then shampoo them with their normal shampoo, rinse, and dry.
Stock photos of skunks Left: Spotted Right: Striped
Porcupines- Porcupines are found throughout Oregon, mostly on the east side of the Cascades. They live in dens and spend their days munching on tree tops. They are large with short legs and their bodies are covered in bare-tipped quills. It’s a myth that porcupines can shoot their quills, but if threatened they will protect themselves. If your pup tries to kill one and gets quilled take them to the emergency vet right away. It is very dangerous to remove the quills yourself. They could break and get stuck under the skin. As your pup moves around the quills work their way deeper and deeper into their skin, muscle, and bone. Quills could stay in the skin for weeks, and if left untreated could cause serious infections and could lead to paralyzation or even death.
Badgers- Badgers are unusual to come across because they are mostly nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean you might not run into one. Badgers are large and powerful. They have long bodies that are low to the ground, and long, sharp claws. Perfect for digging and self-defense. They will attack if threatened, and their claws can slice open skin like paper. Do not allow your pup to enter other animals homes uninvited. Keep them from sticking their heads in holes and from digging up burrows.
Wolverine- They are rare, but they do exist in Oregon, and you should be prepared for when you might meet one. Wolverines basically look like small bears, with short legs and a bushy tail. They are normally out and about at nighttime, but will emerge during the day if they feel the need. Like most animals, they will only attack if they feel threatened. They are strong and powerful and have been known to take down deer. Don’t let your pups go sticking their noses in animal dens.
With fires blazing and a lot of new people moving to the state, wildlife has been forced to leave the safety of their homes and move out into new, uncharted territory. That means they are moving into human areas and you will encounter them more frequently. Be vigilant and keep your pups close!
When you’re out on the trail with your Pup there are a plethora of animals out there. Some are harmless, some are scared, and some are more than willing to stand their ground and defend their territory. Having some knowledge about the various animals out there will help you be prepared for when you and your Pup meet one on the trail. Let’s explore some Central Oregon wild animals together, starting with the smallest.
Fleas– Have you heard of the Central Oregon flea rumor? Someone is going around telling everyone that fleas don’t exist in Central Oregon! It’s blasphemy! Though fleas are uncommon in Central Oregon, they definitely exist. The High Desert is too cold and dry for fleas to thrive, but they live happily in rodent burrows and deer beds. They are normally only around during the warmer months, from spring through summer. Flea bites can cause a lot of grief, irritation, and pain. Keep your pups up to date on flea meds to keep them (and your entire world) protected. If you find fleas on your pup you’ll have to immediately give them a medicated flea bath and clean everything in your home.
Thatching Ants– Thatching ants are somethin’ fierce. They have black thoraxes, red heads, and very angry faces. They got their name by creating their home in giant mounds made of mostly pine needles, sticks, and debris. You can see the mounds moving with ants. Each nest could contain literally millions of these ants. The threat of these ants is their bite! Human or dog, these ants will latch on and bite you! And those bites are lasting. They burn and sting and itch for hours after. It’s easy to avoid their mounds, but they have exit holes everywhere so ants swarm in a wide radius of their nests. Wearing high socks will help you, but your Pups are more exposed. If you notice them fussing with their feet or legs give them a once over and remove any ants you see. Tweezers work best, but you can also wrap up your hand in a cloth or poop bag and pluck those suckers out!
Ticks– There are about 20 different species of ticks in Oregon. Four of them are more common than others: the western Black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick), the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the American Dog tick, and the Brown Dog tick. The western black-legged tick is the only species known to carry Lyme disease in Oregon, but there are other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. Ticks often bite and burrow without the host even knowing. Many people who end up with a tick related disease had no idea they’d even been bit. Some ticks are smaller than a poppy seed, and they hang around in your hair or other areas you wouldn’t think to check after a trip outside. They’re sneaky, and very good at what they do. Ticks love hanging out on the tips of tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to brush through the grass. They latch onto their host and don’t let go. They have tiny hooks in their mouths that they use to burrow into skin. If you find one on your pup you can remove them with tweezers. Place the tip of the tweezers as close to the skin as possible, do your best to pinch the tick by the head and pull it straight out, slowly. If you are not comfortable or confident removing a tick take them into the vet asap. Check your dogs after every outing, and keep them up to date on tick medication to keep them safe and healthy.
Spiders– Spiders are everywhere, and pups are constantly getting into their business. The three types of spiders to look out for are Black Widows, Hobos, and Yellow Sac spiders. The most common, and most dangerous venomous spider is a Black Widow. Females are the ones to look out for, as most males are rarely seen and are often eaten by their mates. They are black and sport a red hourglass on the bottom side of their abdomen. Their bite can cause muscle pain, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Hobo spiders are also something to look out for. They are reddish brown and often have stripes across the tops of their bodies. Their bites can cause necrosis, headaches, and vision impairment. And lastly, Yellow Sac spiders have a bite similar to the Brown Recluse. They are not quite yellow, and are more of a brownish tan color. Their bites are not as serious as the Black Widow or Hobo, but can cause swelling, redness, and a stinging sensation. These three spiders can be found anywhere. In homes, in yards, in the desert, and in the woods. They don’t bite humans very often, but will bite a dog if they are startled or feel threatened. Pups will often show signs of a bite within an hour. Most bites occur on their faces and will begin to swell. You most likely will not know that your pup encountered a spider, but if you see swelling or redness occur take them to the vet right away.
Stay tuned for our next Wilderness Education post about Small Animals such as squirrels, porcupines, badgers, etc.
Our favorite time of the year is coming! Time to roll in the snow, play catch with snowballs, and plow through powder! Below you will find some tips on how to keep your Pup safe & some suggestions on how to have fun in the cold!
Be sure to play in areas that you are familiar with! The snow can hide secret dangers such as sticks, rocks, pipes, etc. Make sure your pup isn’t leaping and bounding in areas that could contain these sharp items, and instead play in areas that you know well.
Keep snowballs from accumulating in your Pup’s fluff!Boots, jackets, gaiters are all great options for keeping your Pup’s fur free of snow and ice clumps. Be sure to get them comfortable wearing these items before big outings. Fresh haircuts are also helpful in keeping snowballs at bay. Keeping leg & foot fluff closely trimmed will do wonders. Snow & ice clumps can cause painful knots and dreadlocks. If you get snow clumps, coconut oil & Musher’s Secret are very helpful.
Don’t eat any snow! Snow can carry bacteria and parasites, and most snow salts are unsafe for digestion, so though it may look like a lot of fun, try not to let your Pup eat snow.
Swimming season is over! When outdoor temps drop below 45, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid swimming. Especially if you’re far from a warm, dry place. Dogs can get hypothermia too.
Fun & Games
Nosework is an awesome game to play in the snow! The snow makes it more difficult to pick up scents, so placing items/toys/treats in the snow can be quite the brain game. Pieces of cheese work great!
Snow mazes are fun for everyone! Dig out a snow maze in your yard or a nearby park and have your Pup run through. You can combine mazes with nosework for even more fun.
Sink a ball in the snow! Toss a ball into the snow so it sinks a bit and have your Pup jump in after it. Make sure you do this in an area that you know doesn’t contain hidden dangers.
Skijoring is a great bonding & physical exercise! It literally connects you and your dog and gets you both outside, working out your bodies and your minds.
Sometimes Home is Best
There are a lot of outdoor winter activities your dog is not interested in. Use your best judgement when deciding on bringing your Pup along. You know them best, after all.
Sitting outdoors at local watering holes or restaurants. Even with a coat on, your Pup can get very wet & cold sitting outdoors watching you and your human friends sip on beer. And it’s not always as fun for them as it is for you.
Shreddin’ Mt Bachelor is for humans. Bringing your Pup along to wait in the car is not fun or comfortable. A warm couch is a better option for them. If you can’t leave them alone in your hotel, look into some dog care options 🙂
Places to Get Outdoor Gear
Ruffwear is local AND they make excellent products!
Hundr is a company in the UK that takes old human outdoor clothing and recycles it into new, fashionable dog gear!
Backcountry has a lot of different brands under one roof… roof, roof! Woah sorry I got carried away.
Oregon is on fire. So is California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. Which means there is a whole lotta smoke covering most of our country. A lot of us our stuck indoors, and a lot of our Pups are stuck indoors too. So I thought I would share a fun dog craft with everyone!
This is a Snuffle Mat. I know it just looks like a mess of fabric, but trust me, it’s actually a pretty fun game. It’s used for easy nosework and offers great mental stimulation for your housebound Pup. They are mass produced, come in a variety of styles, and sell for about $40+ in stores. But the good news is you can spend about $5 and make one yourself! It helps cure hours of boredom for you, feels great to make your Pup something they love, and helps your Pup work out his brain while stuck inside!
They are super easy to make, but I’m not going to lie, they take A LOT of time! If you’d like me to make you one, please shoot me an email! I make them and sell them for $20 and all profits go to the Oregon Humane Society!
Felt or any super soft fabric, remember your Pup is going to be shoving his snout into this! The softer the better! (Thrift stores are excellent places to find super cheap felt/fabric! You can also recycle some unwanted clothes!)
Begin cutting felt into strips, about 1″ wide and about 5-7″ long. They don’t have to be exact, having them vary in dimensions will spice things up on your finished mat 🙂
2. Begin by inserting one strip of felt through two neighboring holes in the sink mat, then tie it off. Continue looping the felt strips through holes and tying them.
3. Continue tying the felt to the plastic mat until every hole, and every direction has fabric through it.
That’s it! You’ve made a Snuffle Mat! Now break up some treats and nestle them into the felt “fingers” and let your dog go to work! If you’re really bored you can make several of these and place them around the house full of treats! That way your Pup can get a little extra brain work in!
The entire West Coast is burning. Thousands of people have lost their homes and have had to evacuate. Areas not on fire are consumed by thick smoke. Oregon is under a state of emergency. Air quality in Central Oregon is horrendous and people have been advised to stay indoors. But what do the fires and smoke mean for your Adventure loving Pup?! And what about all your other pets and livestock that have to stay outdoors?!
As unhealthy as smoke can be to humans, it can also cause serious health problems for nonhuman animals. Smoke from wildfires affects pets, horses, livestock and wildlife. If you can see or feel the effects of smoke yourself, you should take precautions to keep your pets and livestock safe.
Look for the following signs of possible smoke irritation. If any of your animals are experiencing any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian:
Difficulty breathing; panting, wheezing, gasping
Excessively drinking water
Reduced appetite and/or thirst
Inflammation of throat or mouth
Disorientation or stumbling
Tips to protect pets & livestock
Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke is present
Brief outdoor bathroom breaks
Avoid outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality.
Have a pet evacuation kit ready, include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning. (see below for kit info)
Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Don’t require animals to perform activities that cause labored breathing.
Provide plenty of fresh water near feeding areas.
Limit dust exposure by feeding low-dust or dust-free feeds and misting the livestock area.
Have a livestock evacuation plan ready in advance. Coordinate with neighbors/friends if you don’t have enough trailers.
Remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around livestock structures.
Give livestock 4-6 weeks to recuperate after the air quality returns to normal. Attempting to handle, move, or transport livestock may delay healing.
The fires have been spreading quickly and many people are awaiting evacuation orders. If you have not prepared for emergency evacuation, and are looking for some guidance on how to do so, The American Veterinary Medical Association has everything laid out in a downloadable booklet entitled “Saving the Whole Family”.
If you and your Pup don’t have the option to stay indoors, there are air filtering masks for dogs that can help them breathe and stay healthy.
2020 has been challenging… but we can make it through! Be prepared, be thoughtful, and be safe!
Being stuck indoors is rarely fun, especially when your inner Adventurer starts screaming to get out! Here are some ways to avoid becoming a couch potato and to help keep you and your furry sidekicks happy and entertained while you Shelter-in-Place!
Fort Building- Believe it or not most pets love forts! They aren’t that great at helping build them, but that’s the fun part for you! Dogs, cats, rodents, birds, and reptiles can all appreciate a good fort, you just have to tailor it to their personality. A man who called himself Papa Jake has a YouTube channel dedicated to box forts, including some made specifically for nonhuman animals!
Have you heard? Boxes are an excellent fort building material! And most animals love playing in them! Dogs are a little clumsy with box forts so you have to be thoughtful during your build, but cats, rodents, reptiles, and birds can handle the most cattywompus of box forts. You can find free boxes on CraigsList or NextDoor!
Sheets, blankets, & towels, oh my! Blanket forts are a little easier for larger pups to enjoy, and other animals enjoy the comfort blankets offer. You can build it big enough to include their bed, a comfy spot for you to sit, and your tv or computer for binge watching Animal Planet. If you don’t have enough sheets or towels, you can get creative and use clothes!
Getting FreshAir- Basically the only thing we’re allowed to do is go outside for a walk. Not only does your dog enjoy this, but all your pets will love getting out! They make leashes & harnesses for basically every shaped animal alive! If you can order pet supplies from a small or local business please do! But you can easily find leashes & harnesses on Amazon.
Go for a smell walk! Don’t just stare at your phone and tug your pet along, instead really get into it! Explore smells with your pet! Hold your kitty up to a tall tree so she can smell the otherwise unattainable leaves, and smell them with her! Let your ferret dig through shrubs to explore new scents, and maybe just take a distant whiff! How often do you use your nose? How often do you share sensory experiences with your best friend? Just steer clear of anything they might be rolling in! Yuck!
Scavenger Hunt! Take a walk with your fluffy pal and bring some trinkets along. Nothing important to you, could even just be small stones. Get your scent on them, roll the item around in your hands and get em nice and smelly. Then on your walk simply place the totems randomly along your path. On your next walk allow your pet to try to seek these totems out! Keep a score of how many they find! (You can do this activity inside your home as well!)
Hide n Seek- Exactly what it sounds like! Have your pet stay in one spot while you hide, then call them to you so they can seek you out! This game really only works with dogs, and in my experience rats & rabbits. Whenever I have tried playing it with a cat I come back to find them snoozing in the same spot I left them in. And forget about playing with a reptile, they prefer to be the hider not the seeker.
Puzzles- Brain games are a great way to help pets pass the time and exercise their minds! Be careful when playing these games with cats… if they get any smarter they might finally take over the world!
Hiding treats around the house is a great way for your pet to use their nose and brains to find them! Have then stay in one spot while you hide the treats in easily accessible areas around the house! Don’t hide treats near irreplaceable family heirlooms! This works with almost all pets!
Use household items to create a puzzle game for your pets. Placing tennis balls in a muffin tin easily hides treats and your pet can sniff them out and figure out how to get to them! Imagine a Kong, and then get creative to make your own at home! Toilet paper and paper towel rolls are great makeshift Kongs! Fold up one side of the cardboard roll, plop some treats inside, and then fold the other end! Your pet will have to chew the roll apart to get to the goods inside! You’ll have a mess to clean up, but that’s all part of the game 🙂
Energy Work- Spending quiet time bonding with your pet will greatly benefit both of you! You’re normally so distracted with work, and kids, and friends, and television, and Reddit… why not spend this time slowing your brain down and connecting with your best friend. Maybe now is a good time to master Reiki!
Pets, massages, and tTouch are all great ways to quietly sit with your pet, quiet your mind and deepen your bond. You can find different massage techniques and tTouch exercises on the World Wide Web. There’s something offered for every type of animal!
Treat Making- This is a great way to get your kids involved in dog care! And to get them out of your hair for a bit 🙂 I prefer making easier, minimal ingredient treats, like pupsicles! But you can get pretty crazy with your treat making! There is a list on Good Housekeeping that has some more extravagant treats, but if you want to keep it simple just blend some peanut butter, plain yogurt, and bananas and add the mixture to an ice cube tray to freeze overnight!
Try Something New Together- Try anything new with your pet! Anything! Something you’ve never done before, but perhaps have always been curious if your furry best friend would enjoy. My dog rarely plays ball, so one day I decided to try a soccer ball and he was all about it! He now has 3 Chuck-It soccer balls and wants to play every day! When my outdoor cat became an indoor cat, I got her a harness to take her outside for mini trips. She hated it. So much. But after a few outings, she began to enjoy being outside again! She refused to walk on the leash with me, in case one of the neighborhood cats saw, but she enjoyed when I sat in the yard and gave her a long leash so she could safely explore! The new activity you try together could range from reading your pet your favorite book to seeing if your cat enjoys slack-lining. Get into it!
Strangers often ask if I’m a dog walker and I usually just say yes to be polite and move on, but I feel that I am not just a walker but perhaps more of a talker, a dog communicator, because that’s what I do all day, communicate with dogs. Adventure Pup never just walks dogs.
Every Adventure Outing is different and tailored specifically to the Pack. Every Hike we focus on things that will benefit the Pack as a whole, as well as the individual Pup. Every Walk we take is a learning opportunity, a chance for a Pup to grow mentally and emotionally. Every Dog Park Visit is a lesson, never just a game of chuck-it.
Each Outing we work on etiquette & basic manners, play brain games, and dabble in energy work, all while having the time of our lives!
Manners on the Trail, Sidewalk, and in the Park are very important. Adventure Pups practice sit, stay, and recall in order to respond appropriately to a variety of situations. Throughout our hike we practice random recall and “touch” (dogs recall all the way and press their adorable noses into my hand). We always practice stepping off trail whenever we encounter someone to prepare the Pack for any future situations such as horseback riders. We go far enough away where we can still see the passerby, but not close enough to distract the Pack’s focus on me. Treats are used, of course, but I have found just kneeling down and praising & petting the dogs works just as well 🙂 If I have someone that is easily tempted I will put them on leash, just in case. This constant practice gets the Pack prepared for when real danger approaches; deer, snakes, coyotes, or shifty humans.
Brain Games are not only fun, but they help dogs work out their brains. Hide and seek is my favorite game to play. Sometimes if someone lags behind to investigate a smell, the rest of the Pack and I will hide behind trees or bushes and watch them sniff us out. It’s my favorite thing to see the seeker’s face when they find us! Just always make sure you can see your dog when you try this so you don’t end up searching for them instead. We also do a little bit of nosework, hiding treats, tennis balls, or sticks for dogs to sniff out. For this activity the Pack sits & stays while I hide the object, then I release them to sniff it out!
Energy Work is usually done in a low-key, calm environment, but sometimes we take it to the trail. Most of the energy work we do on Hikes centers around bonding, but we will also do some exercises to help improve circulation & movement, build confidence, and calm overly excited or anxious Pups. We use a combination of t-Touch, Reiki, leash guidance, and simple body language. Using these techniques has resulted in the Pack being more attuned with what I am doing and where I am. When I stop, the Pack stops. When I walk off trail, the Pack follows, without a single spoken word. The Pack stays within 20 feet of me, and if they go further I stop, and they return. This of course doesn’t work 100% of the time, but the more we practice the more positively the Pack responds.
We practice similar exercises on Neighborhood Walks & Dog Park Outings. Every Outing is an opportunity to learn & grow, no matter how much time we have together.
Winter is upon us! We hope everyone else is having as much fun as we are in the snow! We also hope everyone is enjoying their fashionable winter wear! Winter coats are a must for humans, but they are also very helpful with Pups. If your Pup is lacking fluff or has a wild coat that collect snowballs, a doggie jacket could become a very helpful tool for you and your Pup this winter. It will keep them warmer and dryer, and will also prevent snowballs from collecting in their fur coats.
But what about their bare feet?! Depending on the dog’s coat, snow can collect between toes and paw pads making walking more difficult and uncomfortable. So now you’ll have to get some doggie booties. After several minutes of struggling to get the boots on correctly, your Pup can now plow through snow without snow clumping up between their toes! Dog boots are difficult for some dogs to get used to, so it’s always helpful to get your Pup accustom to them before a big adventure.
But wait… all four of their legs are still exposed! “Oh geez don’t tell me I have to get more clothing for my dog!” Yes! Get some leg warmers! I know, I know, this sounds utterly ridiculous. But sometimes when you’re out on longer treks in the snow, snowballs can twist their way further into a dog’s fur and create painful dreadlocks. You see this a lot with Poodles and Doodles, which is why dog gaiters have been invented! Gaiters are more useful than a coat, and some of them even come with boots attached! So you don’t have to spend half an hour putting booties on your dog only to discover five minutes into your hike two of the booties have gone missing.
You can also make your own doggie leg warmers out of socks! They aren’t as durable, or as fashionable, but they keep your Pup’s legs protected against the elements, and they’re cheap! Simply get some socks and cut the seam on the toe. If they don’t stay up you can get some velcro straps from a hardware or craft store to add at the top.
Not every dog needs gaiters, or booties, or even jackets. Some dogs (like my RottenChow) are made for winter and snow just falls out of their fur. But if your Pup is having to put play on hold to chew snowballs out of their feet you might want to explore your options for a more enjoyable winter outing.
*The links that I have provided are just some recommendations of products that I have first hand experience with, or have been told by a trusted dog pal that they are reliable, quality products. I have yet to find dog boots that I really want to rave about, but the two links are to boots that frustrate me the least. We love recommendations so if you have any always feel free to share!
Last week I was sitting at my favorite food truck pod with my sweet Pup Link. People came and went with their dogs, sometimes coming over to say hello to my Pup. Each dog calmly came over to get and give a brief sniff and then they trotted away with their human. After about five dogs stopping to say hello, in walks a beefy pitbull. He was large and had a big smile on his face, scanning the area for dogs. He saw Link and immediately began walking toward us. Behind him was a small woman, gripping his retractable leash with both hands and being dragged across the gravel as if she was wearing roller skates. She grasped the handle of the leash and held her thumb tight against the leash lock, her other hand was wrapped up in the thin cord, turning white from the lack of blood flowing to it. She kept shouting, “Stop! Heel! Stop!” but the dog continued to drag her toward me. I stood up and asked, “Does he want to say hi?” The woman’s face filled with relief and she allowed her hands a break and let her dog have some extra leash to say hello. The dog calmed and they began to walk away, but then another dog popped into view and the woman was being dragged off again, this time she dropped the large plastic handle and it hit the ground, shattering into pieces and retracting itself all the way back to the dog, who began fleeing in terror into the parking lot, the broken plastic handle clattering behind him.
This is honestly not the first time I have seen this happen. Retractable leasheswere invented in order to provide control over the dog while allowing it more room to roam, but instead they tend to provide little control and absolutely no guidance. Your dog is able to walk about 20ft ahead of you, sniffing and eating whatever they find, wrapping around trees or poles, and hopping into the street in front of an oncoming bicyclist if they so desire. The inventor of the retractable leash has said, “It is usually desirable that the dog should have a certain freedom in running about, but it is difficult to prevent the animal from running on the wrong side of lamp posts or pedestrians, thus causing much annoyance to the owner, who is constantly required to adjust the length of the leash in her hand, and frequently the leash is dropped and the dog permitted to run away. The objects of the present invention are to obviate and overcome all these difficulties and annoyances due to the usual form of leash, and prevent the leash from becoming tangled as the dog runs about.” This directly translates to: “I hate dealing with my dog and just want to zone out while I walk him.” Her description is odd, considering the retractable leash allows more room to run about and go on the wrong side of posts and people, and you are CONSTANTLY adjusting the length of the leash. It is also very easy to drop, and even easier to break!
The truth is, people only use these leashes because it is comfortable for them to hold. If you remove the large plastic handle you would be left with a thin cord that would slice into your hands, similar to walking a dog on a fishing line, and nobody wants that.
I always recommend a 6ft nylon leash. You can shorten it as much as you’d like, and no dog needs to be more than 6ft from you while on a leashed walk. You can drop it without the fear of it breaking or retracting after your dog. You can adjust your grip and hold the leash in a variety of ways depending on how you and your dog walk together. And the best part is, you are in control. Even if your dog is a puller, a flat leash provides the most control and support. I prefer the simple slip lead that tightens when the dog pulls, which usually prevents the dog from doing so. But every dog is an individual and needs what’s best for them AND you. Try out a few options to see what’s best for both of you, but leave that retractable leash on the shelf!
*When researching retractable leashes I discovered that there are A LOT of injuries to both humans and animals when using one of these leashes. I know when the handle is dropped it could retract and injure the dog, but I had no idea how many issues this leash actually had with injuries. They’re even illegal in some areas because of the amount of injuries! Here is a link to the Animal Hospital of North Asheville, if you’d like to read about the potential injuries causes by retractable leashes. Whatever you do, don’t Google Image search it!
I borrowed the image fromDogTime.com, which also has an informative article about retractable leashes 🙂