By Katelyn Schutz, CPDT
For many of us humans, we are perplexed as to why our dogs want to be outside on a winter day, instead of curled up in a blanket on the couch with us and our hot cocoa. Ever wonder why some dogs love winter and snow?
I find many dogs love winter because they become more energetic as the temperatures cool. Colder weather allows them to run and play more, without over-heating. My thick-coated Springer Spaniel “perks up” his play, almost as if a switch went off once autumn hits. Conversely, this love for winter can be “breed specific.” For example, you will not see my Chihuahua attempt to leave the warm house between November and March. But those built to withstand cold temperatures seem to thoroughly enjoy winter and the snow it brings.
Don’t like going out in the freezing winter, but your dog does? Hire a professional dog walking service to help you provide your pooch with some much needed outdoor time this winter, while you stay warm by the fire.
Most every behaviorist I’ve spoken to on the subject has the same answer as to why dogs love snow: it’s fun! Dogs love to investigate, and manipulate their environment. For some dogs, snow is just another toy to play with. Play behavior is common in social species like canines, and snow just provides a substrate for that merriment. Digging, pouncing in, chasing, and running in snow for a dog, is probably much like a child on a new gym set or playground.
Some of my favorite memories of my late, great Boomer were in the snow. He would gleefully roll in fresh fallen flakes, almost as if making his own doggie snow angel. He would root his nose around in it, and occasionally taste and eat the snow. Several dogs, like Boomer, find joy in this.
It’s really no different than us humans (particularly children), who find many different forms of entertainment in the winter. We toss snowballs, build snow forts, and hurdle ourselves down snowy hills on sleds, skis, and snowboards. It’s no wonder our dogs follow our lead!
So keep your dog active outside this winter! Hire a professional dog walker if you don’t like the cold. Otherwise, take your canine snow-shoeing, or let them “help you” shovel by catching your snow piles as you fling them. Hide your pup’s favorite toys in snow piles, and enjoy as he or she digs and hunts to find them. Attach a sleigh on it to your dog’s harness, and let them pull a sled (you can add or subtract weight to the sled, depending on your dog’s individual exercise needs).
Who knows, perhaps watching your dog enjoy winter so much will make the warm weather come a little sooner 🙂