To Stay Active Outside During Winter Select Proper Clothing

Trojan dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Trojan dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Many of us have seen Christmas Story and the scene that Ralphie is so well insulated that his arms are stuck up as he has been bundled for his walk to school.  He whines “I can’t put my arms down” and his mom comments “Well..you can put your arms down when you get to school.” When I work in locations that require walking dogs in snow and ice, I can’t be bundled up like Ralphie.  When we are out playing with our dogs in winter areas that has snow and ice, we need to be able to move about safely and stay warm.

I lived in Alaska for two years and really had to prepare for travel in subzero temperatures.  Part of that ritual was having my own traveling winter emergency kit available.  It includes extra warm clothing, blankets, dry shoes, a candle, a lighter or water-proof matches, food that doesn’t freeze, access to water, emergency flares, a first aid kit, and the list goes on.  The biggest challenge was dressing for winter.  I had to learn to layer so that I wouldn’t be walking around like Ralphie.  One of the important layers is two pairs of breathable socks or a pair of heavier breathable or insulated socks, if your feet got cold or wet there can be problems.  Then the first layer was the layer closest to the skin after the undergarments and socks.

Trojan hiding behind pole

In Alaska that first layer was a polypropylene top and bottom, this is also called long johns, long underwear, or a base layer. From that I would put on the normal outerwear garments: pants, blouse, or sweater.  I got into the habit of wearing two tops one being a turtle neck and then something on top of that.  That way if I got to hot inside I could remove a layer of clothing.  From there came the coat (my coat in Alaska was gauged for minus weather) or a jacket that covers the butt.  I sometimes will double layer under the coat with a fleece vest.  To protect myself from the wind a light weight pair of ski pants to cover the bottom.  I like to double layer my hands, head, and neck.  For the hands my first layer would be a light weight pair of contact gloves and either another set of heavier gloves on top or a pair of mittens.  There are also gloves out where the wearer can remove the top to expose the fingers just in case one can’t use the fingers with gloves on.  For the neck/chest area I would put a scarf under the jacket and a neck gator that would cover a portion of the neck, mouth and nose.  I use to double layer the head gear as well, using a warm hat and either on or under the hat I would wear ear mittens.

The final dress wear before going out in snow and ice is the shoes.  Your type of shoes will determine how warm and dry your feet are and wearing normal tennis shoes in snow or ice will maintain this goal and will be slip resistant.  Using waterproof shoes or boots that are lightweight will help.  Coating those with a water repellent fabric treatment can help waterproof shoes.  Traction is very important on ice and snow, I keep a pair of slip-on cleats to put on the bottom of my boots, these are similar to the ice shoes worn by those who climb glaciers.  Don’t forget polarized sun glasses to block the glare of ice or snow, it’s important that you see where you going.

In 2013 Southern Illinois got a lot of negative weather temperatures and I actually layered well enough that my main layer was a hunter’s jacket (camouflage on one side and orange on the other) all winter long.

Gitli dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Gitli dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Take care of dog paws, some dogs won’t put up with dog boots on their feet so using a petroleum jell on their feet will help protect the paws just be sure to wipe off when your back from walks.  Do your best to protect the paws form getting cut by ice or the salt while out walking.  Rinse the paws in warm water to remove ice pellets and other ice melt products, so not to send the body into shock.

Winter can be a wonderful season to be out in about walking dogs and taking care of pets. Take care of yourself and dress appropriately during the winter to protect yourself.  Don’t forget to take care of pet’s paws when out walking.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters and Disaster Plans: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

Ask Permission Before Approaching A Dog Unknown To You!

The reason why I related this story is because when someone asks you not to approach their dog, there is a reason that you are not aware of.  So when asked please don’t approach, better yet ask for permission first.

Dutch had already touched me a couple of times so I extended my hand as he was raising his paw.  Notice at this time he still wasn't completely looking at me.  Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

Dutch had already touched me a couple of times so I extended my hand as he was raising his paw. Notice at this time he still wasn’t completely looking at me. Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

June 8, 2013 at the Union County Animal Control Fund Raiser “Raise the Woof” in the afternoon, I kept watching two women working with a frightened dog.  After watching a while I went out to talk with the ladies.  They had recently adopted Dutch and as I slowly approached they said the dog was afraid of everyone and pretty much everything.  He had been abused with fishing poles and a broom by a man.

 

 

So Dutch was even more afraid of men and even more so when they had a hat on.  It also appeared to me he was of afraid of young boys as well.  I asked for permission to approach the dog and I told the ladies what I was going to do at each step.  First I said I am not going to look the dog in the eyes, I don’t want Dutch to feel threatened.  So I gazed at the ground talking to Dutch all happy and knelt down in front of him, after a few moments of talking all happy he reached out for my hand to touch me.

He had turned to look at me.  Shaking hands with a new friend. He also gave me a few kisses.  Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

He had turned to look at me. Shaking hands with a new friend. He also gave me a few kisses. Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

After a few touches from Dutch, I proceeded to reach my hand out open palm and he placed is paw in my hand.  His people then gave me some treats to work with him for a few minutes.  The ladies were surprised as to Dutch’s positive behavior with me and we continued to talk and they asked if I would be willing to come to their home to work with Dutch and I said yes and gave them my rates.

 

 

While I was working with Dutch a large man approached with his dog and I clearly asked him not to approach us.  He totally ignored me and I watched Dutch’s body language and facial attributes change to fear.  So I kept engaging Dutch so that he would ignore the ignorant man.  This particular man made it clear that no one could touch is service dog in training because it was in training especially when folks asked to pet his dog.  He didn’t feel he had to ask to approach another person’s dog and even when told not to  he would totally ignore the requests of stay back.

I later found him and politely told him when someone tells you to stay back you stay back from their dog.  That particular dog I was working with that you felt was OK to approach and do your own things was AFRAID of you and actually afraid of men.  Just like you don’t want someone touching your service dog when it’s in training and you made that clear.  You have to honor the requests of others about not approaching their dog.  I walked away at that moment to let him think about it.

The ladies and Dutch visited several times so they he could have good interactions with a stranger.  I know that I got caught in the act of dog whispering and a picture had been taken when I was talking and working with the Dutch.  Fear base dogs can be worked with and trained though it’s at a slower pace and when they are opened to it.

Were these women doing the right thing for the dog, yes they were.  They were trying to desensitize  their dog to help it overcome its fears in a positive manner.  They were not there long and knew when it was time to take their dog back to the safety of its home.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters” and “Disaster Plan: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”

Steps to Reducing Dog Aggression

Trojan and Gitli with toysDog aggression is a common and serious behavioral problem in domestic dogs.  The trauma to the human victim is both mental and physical.  When big dogs bite it can result in serious injuries to the victim.  When little dogs show aggression or bite my experience is that folks laugh and think the little dog’s aggression is humorous. But it isn’t humorous to be bitten by any dog regardless of their size.

The human victim isn’t the only one who suffers when a dog bites.  Big dogs that bite can be euthanized.  The news broadcast are usually very negative holding the dog responsible for the bite.  Community government also bans or regulates certain breeds of dogs even though specific dogs have never bitten.

Dog bites can be easily prevented by understanding dog behavior and through dog training.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  All dogs can potentially bite.  Dog parents needs to make every effort they can to prevent their dog from developing an aggressive behavior and from biting.

Dogs will bite for any number of reasons and it only takes one bite that can label a dog aggressive.  Chicago Dog Coach Ami Moore suggests Three Easy Steps to Reducing Dog Aggression.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.