It's winter. You fall asleep to the wind blowing and snow whirling through your yard. Everything from the treetops to the rooftops is covered in white. I'll give it to you: it IS pretty. It's calm and peaceful and looks beautiful. The dogs are so excited to hop and romp and roll in the fresh fallen flakes, so you let them. They look adorable and you want to go make snow angels with them, so you do. Enjoy the moment because tomorrow's a new day and it's going to get old fast. Snow days are awesome, what ensues, not so much. Enter wet dog, wet floors, snow balls, ice balls, bored dogs and a whole lot of wet towels that need laundering.
What gets me through the winter doldrums (aside from dreaming about summer) are the following essentials for any dog owner:
1. Soggy Dog Doormat - This mat is awesome. When I first found them at a trade show, I thought, "no way would I pay that much for a doormat." I take that back. This mat does everything it promises to and more: it traps dirt and grabs much if not most of the wetness from the dogs' paws. This mat has cut down on my cleanup time and I'm down with that.
2. Safe Paw - You can read here how and why salt is harmful to your dog and why it is important to have a pet-friendly ice melt. I love Safe Paw and it's a good price point. Plan ahead and get the 5 gallon bucket, you'll save a few bucks and won't run out. Not only is it safe for the pups' paws, it provides a nice clean dry walkway that keeps your floors in better shape!
3. Groom or Pawz - If your dog hasn't been in to see our awesome groomers lately, he may have what we like to call "Grinch" feet. Long hair between the pads and toes is the main cause of iceball buildup on the paws. This can be extremely uncomfortable and painful for your dog but is preventable by having a nice tidy paw trim or by using Pawz, a natural rubber boot that protects the pad from snow, salt and ice.
4. Chuck-it! - Actually, the Chuck-it! is a must have for all seasons! But what makes it extra fun in the winter is "chucking" hard packed snow balls and watching your dogs hunt for the needle in the haystack. Depending on how big your yard is and how solid a snowball hunter your dog is, this quick game will get them tired out and get you back to your hot toddy in no time.
5. Bullies, No-Hides & Antlers - When it is just too cold to play outside, I default to my indoor dog entertainment: bully sticks, No-Hide chews and elk antlers. These are my top three MUST haves in the house at all times. They provide indoor jobs for the dogs, give them chewing satisfaction and allow me to read, uninterrupted, for a good half hour.
6. Tug Toys - Last but not least is the tug toy. In our house, many things work as tug toys. Braided fleece, rope, fire hose toys, etc. all prove to be great tugs. But on special occasions we let our boys play their favorite game of tug. You will need one awesome, adorable intact plush stuffed dog toy. Drop it on the floor and sit back for the show. If your dogs are anything like mine, this is their favorite indoor game. One will grab the toy and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Dog 2 wants in on the game. He grabs the other end and before you know it, it's snowing toy stuffing in your living room. The adorable stuffed toy is no longer intact and the carcass is discarded for the ultimate jackpot: the squeaker. One holds the little plastic squeaker in his front teeth and the other does the same, at the other end. They might stand lips to lips in a tug standstill for minutes at a time. This is the game, and they love it. This game requires some clean-up on your part, and will destroy one of your cutest toys, but hey, whatever it takes to survive winter.
Of course all of the above mentioned products are available at Hot Diggity in Mashpee Commons and at Hot Diggity Dog Wash & Boutique in Dennis Port. If you want to take care of your pup's grinch feet, give our amazing groomers a call (508-258-0208) and they can take care of that for you.
Do you have winter survival tips for dog owners? What are your dogs' favorite games to play? Sound off below and enjoy the snow!