Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
Walking our pets is a great way to get regular exercise. Having your puppy scratching at the door is a lot more motivation to get up off the couch than any personal trainer can provide. If you can use it as a time to bond with your pet, even better.
Sometimes, looking outside and seeing it snow or the temperature below where we feel comfortable makes us think twice about going out. Some small dogs find those conditions daunting as well. But most dogs think its fun, especially if they have the proper protective gear for going out in extreme conditions.
For short forays outdoors, most dogs have sufficient fur coats to keep them warm, even in the coldest conditions. Double coated dogs like Huskies and Shepards can weather even the worst extremes without a doggie coat. Short haired dogs can benefit from a little extra protection, but both need some kind of protection on their paws. Proper food and grooming can ensure their pads stay in good shape, supple and free from hairs that can cause iceballs to form between the pads. This is enough for short walks, but longer walks may require booties. Dog boots come in a variety of styles and sizes, its best to bring the pet in to be fitted with a set that are appropriate for your need.
If it gets truly too cold for both of you, man and beast, to go outside, a very smart option is using your treadmill. Dogs can very easily be trained to walk on a treadmill, and it can be a valuable replacement for taking them out for a stroll. For the smaller dogs that can't handle the snow or cold, it is a great option all winter long. No need to gain "winter weight" anymore, when they can get exercise inside.
It gets dark early in winter, posing other challenges for walking our pets. I was driving down a back street the other night and almost didn't see a dog and their owner walking towards me on my side of the street. A white dog, and a person in light clothing, on an overcast night with light flurries. No reflectives, no lights, almost no chance of seeing them had the snow been coming down a little heavier. If a driver hadn't been paying as much attention as I was, it could have been disastrous.
There are LED lights now for dog collars, dog leashes, and you can wear an LED armband designed for joggers. They can be set as a steady light or set to flash. They come in a variety of colours and styles. A tiny bit of moving light makes you very, very easy to see. They are not hard to use and relatively inexpensive. If they save one life, of a pet or an owner, its all worth it.
Walking our pets is a great form of exercise, for both pet and owner. Make sure to use good judgment, though, in making it safe as well.