Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Games for You and Your Dog

Do you have snow where you live?

As every retriever knows, the chief purpose of snow is to make snowballs. If your dog loves to play with balls, he will love snowballs. "Catch and chomp" is a favorite game among many retrievers. For more entertainment, roll snowballs down a hill and watch your dog return with a mouth full of melting snow and a funny look on its face.

Snowball toss, considered it winter Frisbee, is fun for most dogs too. See if your dog can intercept snowballs when thrown to someone else.

Build a snowman (or elephant) with your dog. Ask your dog to, "Find a stick," for the snowman's arms. Or bury one and see if your dog can find it.

Hide and seek is a classic especially with a good snowfall and snowbanks. The best hide and seek game involves hiding yourself, of course. It is easier if there are two of you, one to give the commands, including the command to go find, and one to hide. If there is just you, you may need to shout "find" from your hiding place. It is not really giving away where you are - the tracks you left in the snow will do that anyway!

If the snow is really deep and fluffy, some dogs like to swim through it after a stick or a snowball. And speaking of deep snow, build a labyrinth or a maze and watch your dog work through it for a treat.

Slippery snow is best for sliding and some dogs really take to it. And there are some dogs that are perfectly happy just rolling in snow.

Most ski resorts do not allow dogs, but you might find some areas to cross-country ski and snow shoe where dogs are permitted off leash. Keep in mind that if your dog is a novice to the sports, you will need to spend time familiarizing him with the equipment. A human being on cross country skis looks like a very strange creature to most dogs especially those two sticks he swings.

While you do not have to worry about heat stroke in the winter months, dehydration can be a problem even in the coldest conditions. If you are out for a long period of time, make sure you take a drink break. And remember, having fur does not mean you do not feel cold.

Also, take care of your dog's feet. During walks, check paws for icicles and balls or hard snow. They make walking very difficult. If you live in a city where roads and sidewalks are salted, you may want to consider getting some dog booties or rubbing your dog's paws with petroleum jelly before going out, and washing the salt off when you get home. Salt can dry and crack paw pads.

Winter can be as much fun as summer for your dog and you.

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