Dogs Trust

Winter Weather Advice

Ruby from Dogs Trust Glasgow standing on frosty grass

With temperatures dropping and wintry weather on the way, our four-legged friends need to be ready for winter too. We have some useful tips to help you keep your doggy friends safe and warm and avoid potentially hazardous winter walks.

Keeping your dog safe this winter

Keeping your dog warm

When the weather gets colder, let your dog's winter coat grow. If you have a puppy, short-haired or old dog, you may want to buy them a winter dog coat. If you are walking when it’s dark, it’s also a good idea to ensure your dog is visible with a flashing collar or high-vis jacket.

Introducing a coat to your dog

A dog wearing a purple dog coat If your dog has never worn a coat or harness before, it’s important to introduce it carefully so your dog finds it comfortable and enjoyable to wear. Dogs can sometimes find it difficult having items such as harnesses and coats placed over their heads and around their bodies. Follow these simple steps to introduce the coat.

1.Before you attempt to put the coat on your dog, lay it on the ground and put a few tasty treats on the coat so they can sniff and investigate it.

2. Once your dog is familiar with the coat, lift the coat and feed your dog a treat through the opening of the coat. Gradually move your hand a little further back to encourage your dog to move their nose and mouth through the opening to get their treats.

3. Once your dog is comfortable with putting their head through the coat, you can place it on their body, continuing to give them treats. If at any point your dog is uncomfortable or retreats from the coat, remove it and feed them anyway. Try again another time and take it back a step if necessary.

Once your dog is comfortable having the coat put on, they'll need to learn to get used to the feel of it and how it affects their natural movement.  Scatter feeding and letting them just move around to find the treats on the ground can help to distract and reward them. If this happens every time their coat goes on, they'll soon look forward to wearing it once you appear with it at walkies time!

Top tips for winter walks

  • A dog and Canine Carer on a walk in the snow Keep your dog on a lead if it is snowing heavily
    Snow can be unusual and exciting for dogs.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag and is microchipped.
    It is important to ensure your microchipping database is up to date with your address and contact details. Find out how to update your dog's details.
  • Make sure you wipe your dogs' legs, feet and stomach after a walk
    The grit from the roads and dampness from rain or snow can irritate their skin.
  • Never leave your dog in a car
    Whether the weather is hot or cold, don’t leave your dog in a car. 
  • Don’t let your dog walk on frozen ponds
    The ice may not be thick enough to take their weight. If your dog does fall through the ice never be tempted to go in after them. If possible, encourage them to swim back to you and call the emergency services.
  • Antifreeze is highly poisonous but tasty to dogs
    Keep it well out of their reach and mop up any spills!
  • Safety first
    Think about your own footwear when you're going out with your dog in winter, and make sure you are as visible as your dog.
  • Regularly check your dog's leads, collars and harnesses
    Make sure they are all functioning safely and not at risk of wear and tear or damage during winter weather. If it's extra cold it can be very difficult to do up lead clips and attach them to collars and harnesses. Wet weather may also make metal clips rust.

Keeping your dog active

A dog on a bench being fed a treat by a Canine Carer It can be difficult to keep dogs physically exercised during these dark evenings, especially when public parks are closed at dusk. Our tips will help keep walks fun and your dog active, even if the weather is bad:

  • Change up your walkies route
    You can provide lots of entertainment for your dog when parks are closed by walking different ways to normal, so they can experience new sights, sounds and smells.
  • Try doggy barkour
    Incorporate some little training sessions within your walks to liven them up. Take treats with you and reward your dog for doing a trick along each street you walk down. You can also lay treat-trails for them to sniff out and follow or create doggy-parkour (or barkour) by using treats to guide them to circle street furniture such as benches and lampposts, all of which you can do on-lead so they're always safe.
  • Play games indoors
    You can play these types of games indoors too – even hiding their toys for them to search for and playing with them as a reward when they find them.
  • Take your dog to Dog School
    Treat your dog to some fun and games that are educational and valuable too by enrolling them in a Dogs Trust Dog School training course! We offer short training courses for puppies, adolescents and adult dogs teaching important skills in a fun and positive environment.

You might be spending more time indoors if the weather's very bad so always make sure your dog has plenty to do. Long-lasting tasty chews, or rubber food-releasing toys and enrichment games are useful for giving your dog something enjoyable to do that is mentally stimulating.

A dog using a Snuffle Mat How to make a snuffle mat

Our simple DIY Snuffle Mat is easy and cost-friendly to make and will keep your dog content and occupied this winter.

Learn how to make it in just four simple steps.

Find out how