BRRRR! We are getting down to the 30-50℉ weather and getting out for walks is tough! What can I say, we’re both weenies after moving from Indiana and acclimating to the Las Vegas desert heat. Taking Dart out in the winter involves a lot more preparation and gear, so this is how we stay organized for our winter walks together.
- Gather all your human gear
Like I said, I now think beautiful, windy, 50-degree days are “cold.” In order to not let this keep me from exercising my dog, I’ve got to have all my winter gear handy. In the photos above, my ears and fingers were FREEZING. Top outerwear to have ready are a warm coat, a hat or hood to keep your ears and head warm, and some nice (maybe thin and grippy) gloves that will help you hold on to your dog’s leash too. I’ve even been known to wear Dart’s leash on a belt around my waist when I want to go hands-free! It’s not much of an issue during our Las Vegas drought, buy I’ve always got rain boots or fuzzy warm boots on standby as well. Sunglasses are a must here during our bright desert winters, and you might just need them too when you walk in all that bright winter snow. As we head into these shorter winter days, I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing for dim lighting on your walks. I’ve got a reflective high-visibility belt and my go-to leggings also have reflective material on them. The street lights aren’t all up yet in our new construction neighborhood, so I’ve always got to plan ahead to help vehicles see us.
- Get all your dog gear
Perhaps Dart is spoiled in this area. He’s got a puffy coat that blocks the wind, a sweater that looks like a horse blanket (dachshunds are a tough body type to fit!) and a cozy Raiders t-shirt for his favorite NFL team. If you’re on snow, ice, and road salt you may just need to find a pair of dog boots too. That is not my area of expertise, do you have any dog boot brands and styles at your home? There were times in Indiana that we’d let the dogs out in the negative-degree temps and they’d just lay down on their bellies to lift their poor feet off the freezing ground 😦 On any of those cold wet soggy days, it’s been essential for us to have a towel waiting at the door to dry off dog paws. Honestly, with dachshunds being so low to the ground, the towel is necessary to wipe all the rain and slush off their chest and belly too. Tiny dogs are down in all the messes! Finally, make sure cars can see your dog on these short, dark winter days. I’ve used my meager sewing skills to make Dart a high-vis collar out of extra fabric from my high-vis belt. My little black dog sure needed some help being seen in the dark too!
- Get organized
Let’s face it, I live in a 1600-square-foot house in Las Vegas, so the coat closet is almost non-existent. Our main-floor closet is so shallow that we have to swing all the coat sleeves out of the way while shutting the door. This means we had to get a little creative with our storage and furniture, and every winter clothing item has its place. Ikea had a lovely bench/shoe rack/coat rack that stays right beside our front door. We’ve always got a place to store our most frequently-used shoes, my high-visibility belt, our face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and I’ll admit my lazy self usually lets my water bottle sit there for days too. For Dart’s gear, we got a little dachshund-crazy with a leash hook I bought on impulse. Dart’s favorite leashes and harnesses are always at the ready by our door, hanging on a cute wiener dog decoration. I also got a (free) antique record cabinet from my grandparents; it quickly became known as the “dog cabinet” at our house. We keep everything from games to tennis balls to treats and medicines in there. Ideally, Dart’s clothing all stays in there too, but as I get lazy the various shirts and sweaters creep out into the rest of our house and end up strewn about other furniture. Does that happen to anyone else, or just my messy family??
OK, you’ve got all the ideas now. Get your winter gear together, keep your doggo warm too, and stay safe out there! Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from bonding with your dog, getting some exercise together, and finding all kinds of new and intriguing sensory experiences for your pup. When you’ve got a plan in place, it’s much easier to get off the couch and get out walking ❤