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Karen B. London
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What Snow Does To Dogs
Is yours more energetic and less attentive?

 

As strong as the kinship is that we share with dogs, this year’s nutty winter storms have hit members of both species differently in many cases. Most of the human inhabitants of the US are already completely sick of the snow. They are tired of shoveling, and clearing off their cars, and being stuck on the roads. Many dogs seem to fell differently. Snow is fun for most dogs, and, along with cooler winter temperatures, it really changes them. One of the most obvious changes is that dogs are more energetic, especially when they are outdoors.
 
That extra energy can be a good thing. The extra exercise is great for dogs who join you on any skiing or snowshoeing adventures. And you probably have company while shoveling snow. People shovel the snow and dogs try to catch it as it flies by to the piles. And I love it when a dog is happily tired in the evenings after a day of outdoor snow adventures.
 
However, if your dog is super peppy because of the snow and crisp air, it can be exhausting if the snow does not make you similarly inclined to be more playful and full of joy. It’s not ideal when dogs are invigorated by the weather but their people consider winter storms an inspiration to sip hot cocoa while reading a good book in front of the fire.
 
Energetic dogs are more likely to misbehave with destructive chewing, barking, whining, chasing the cat, and any of a number of undesirable actions that result from being full of energy with no outlet for it. When they do go outside, they may be less responsive because they are so distracted.
 
The way that snow changes many dogs is a big deal this winter since so much of the country is experiencing extreme and even record-setting amounts of snow. The more you are able to follow your dog’s lead and enjoy the snow, the less tedious and stressful your wait for spring will be.
 
How has the snow affected your dog?

 

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Ruby C. | February 8 2011 |

My dog went through a destructive phase when we first adopted her, but that had stopped - until now. I'm not positive it is due to the weather but the cold temps and freezing wind have shortened our morning walks and outside time. I try to make sure we play a little more inside but I know its not the same as a nice long walk! I'm keeping my fingers crossed she starts behaving again when left at home once the weather improves.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 8 2011 |

My dog has recently started eating poop at the dog park! Yuck; I'm at my wits end as to how to get him to leave it alone. As the blog indicates, my dog is also less responsive when I call him away from it and tell him to leave it.

Submitted by Frances | February 9 2011 |

We had heavy snow here in the UK back in November/December. At first my two toys loved it - couldn't wait to rush out and play zoomies, with the snow up to their chests. Then the novelty wore off, and it took some persuasion to get them out at all, especially when it was actually falling. Fortunately toy dogs are comparatively easy to entertain indoors!

Submitted by Heather Roy | February 10 2011 |

Although we haven't had the same snow in southwest Ohio that the East coast has had, Jackson loves when we get fresh stuff. He still has to 'patrol' the yard, so there are nose tracks and he won't come up for air until it is piled to his eyes. Then he'll shake it off and start again.

Submitted by Miranda | February 11 2011 |

The thing I hate most about winter (aside from driving on unploughed roads) is standing around in the dog park freezing my toes and ears and nose off while my dog is having the time of her life!!! I do love to see her so happy though. So far I'd have to say that our best outdoor winter adventures has been playtime, just the two of us, in the dog park. She usually ignores me and all the other dogs in the Summer, but she loves playing when it gets colder. But by far, it's still the best to play in the snow with my dog between the waves of other dog park goers.

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