Today is Blue Monday, considered the most depressing day of the year, but I have to wonder if our dogs get the winter blues as well?
Dog Days of Winter
I’m no expert, nor do I have any scientific facts, but I personally believe it’s possible for dogs to get the winter blues. Perhaps dogs aren’t affected the same way humans are when we feel blue, down or are depressed, but I think it may be more that our dogs are bored from lack of stimulation, exercise, and being outdoors less.
In my personal experience, winters, some years more than others, can be difficult for me and my pug Edie. Living in Canada you’d think we’d be used to the cold wintery weather by now. Canadians for the most part are a hardy breed, we think nothing of lighting up the barbecue in a winter snow storm, sitting in a hut in the middle of a frozen lake to fish, when the weather calls for temps to go above 5C we pull out our t-shirts and start planning our gardens. But even the hardiest of us Canadians and Canadian dogs start feeling the chill when the weather drops to -34C with windchill. Yes, there are still a few that can be found skating or playing hockey on outside ice rinks, but when we start breaking weather records for cold temperatures we tend to hunker down.
Not wasting any time being outside in this weather!
Over the past weeks we’ve broken records with extreme windchill advisories, cold weather alerts and been warned of potential frost bite within minutes for exposed skin. It’s days like these that not only effect me but effect my dog as well, and no matter the temperature or extreme weather warnings, my dog still need to go outside to do her “business” and she still needs some form of mental stimulation and physical activity to fend off the boredom.
So what do my dog Edie and I do to get through the long dark, cold snowy, dog days of winter?
Stimulation and Indoor Dog Play
On days that are not safe to be outside for any length of time, I play indoors with Edie. These indoor dog games can range from playing fetch back and forth in our hallway, hiding a favourite dog toy or treat for Edie to search for, even playing hide and seek where I go into another room and have Edie come find me. Cold weather days are the perfect opportunity to brush up on my dog’s commands, teach her new tricks, and get her used to wearing the all important dog boots needed to survive these freezing days.
My goal is to stimulate and ultimately, tire my dog out!
Socializing my Dog:
As much as I’d like to think I’m the light of my dog’s life 😉 Edie absolutely loves meeting and visiting with others, and if that includes a car ride then her day is made complete! When the winter weather does not allow to take my dog outside for any length of time I’ve been known to drive to local pet stores to walk up and down the isles, get in some exercise and meet up with other dogs and dog parents.
Over the past year I’ve been taking Edie to a Senior’s residence to visit with a family member. I honestly don’t know who gets the most joy out of these visits, my dog Edie, or the people she comes in contact with? Visits to the Senior residence is a great opportunity for Edie to learn self control, the importance of being gentle, and becoming comfortable coming in contact with wheelchairs, walkers and other health care products that dogs may not normally encounter on a daily basis.
What do you do with your dog to stay active, be happy, and keep motivated during the dog days of winter?