Winter is coming (every year). As a dog walker, you will sometimes be faced with rough conditions in the colder months, and it’s so important to prepare.
As a dog walking company proudly serving Philadelphia and Washington DC, we have seen some rough winters and have a few handy tips for surviving the season.
COLD WEATHER GEAR
Staying comfortable, warm, and dry will help you be able to provide the best possible care for your pets. Here are some items you will need to survive this winter:
The Right Cold Weather Clothing
Here’s what we’ve learned over years of trial, error, and reading into military science: You need three layers.
1. Start with a long sleeve base. Avoid cotton, this layer should wick away moisture and keep body heat close.
2. Add a breathable mid-layer. For this layer a fleece or a sweater is perfect.
3. Top it off with a puffy outer layer that has a windbreaking material on the outer. This layer is crucial protection from the environment
Your hands are one of your most critical tools for dog walking. Handling the dog safely is your main priority, but with numb hands that can be difficult. Walkers should have a thin base layer glove that allows for dexterity. This layer allows you to do detail work, like unlocking doors and picking up waste. Over your base layer, it’s advised to have a heavier glove. While mittens might be the warmest option, it is difficult to do most tasks with them. We would suggest a cold-weather work glove for your outer layer.
Having nice waterproof hiking boots will make walking in any weather bearable. Keeping your feet warm and moving is key to successfully dog walking in the winter, so it is wise to invest in some nice wool socks to layer over thinner base socks. When layering socks, it is important to make sure you have enough space in your boot, so you don’t lose circulation.
Hat & Scarf
Keeping the simple and effective tool of Lock De-Icer can save you time and headaches. Ice-cold temperatures mean locks are prone to freezing. A good de-icer will keep you moving and not stuck trying to find a way inside.
Handwarmers – these little packets are a lifesaver. Future you will thank present you for adding these to your walker bag.
COLD WEATHER TIPS & TRICKS
Being properly prepared to brave the weather is an important first step, but here are some simple tips to make your winter dog walking a smoother experience.
while you may not feel as thirsty in the cold weather, your body is working hard to maintain your temperature. It’s easy to become dehydrated and not realize it. So drink up! It will keep you hydrated and will help your body stay warm. This is also true for dogs.
It is important to take breaks. Stop into a cafe or hotel lobby in between walks to warm up. Or spend an extra minute inside the home while writing your walk report.
Less Time Outside
While most dogs love winter weather, it still takes a toll on their bodies. This is good weather to spend less time on a walk and more time playing with fido indoors.
Keep Your Cellphone Warm
Cell phones are the ultimate dog walking tool and the cold weather drastically drains the battery. This holds true for battery packs as well. Keep your phone and/or battery pack in an inside pocket, close to your body to avoid being stranded with a dead battery.
Take Your Time Traveling
Winter travel is notoriously horrible. Whether your traveling by foot, bike, public transit or car, you should expect delays. This might mean taking on a lighter schedule to account for added travel time and obstacles.
COLD WEATHER PET CARE
Making sure you are ready for the winter weather is half the battle. Dogs can also feel the brunt of extreme conditions and it is your job to help them through the season. Here are a few things to pay attention to when walking your dog this winter.
Not all pets have cold-weather gear, but it is important you look for pet cold-weather gear to prepare dogs for the outdoor climates. Look for dog coats or pet booties.
Pay Attention to your Dog
Look for signs of discomfort such as shivering or walking awkwardly. Cold weather can be dangerous for dogs. You may need to head in early and spend time inside for a dog who does not handle cold well. This should be noted on the dog’s account for future walkers.
Wipe Off Dogs Paws
When you get back to the house it’s important to wipe off the pet’s paws. This will avoid the dog making a mess by tracking mud, salt or slush. Also, this will help keep the pup comfortable as salt and ice can get caught in the pads of the dog’s paws and irritate them.
Dry Off a Wet Dog
If you walk a dog in rain or snow, you should try to dry off the dog. This will keep the home clean and the dog from getting cold.
The winter can be a wonderful time to work as a dog walker, but it takes some preparation and understanding of what’s ahead of you. The weather changes fast and you have to be ready to change with it, but with these tips above you should be set to take on the season. Happy walking!