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Staying Warm with the Pups
How are you keeping toasty during the historic freeze?

As the U.S. weathers a historic freeze, schools closed, people stayed home from work, and planes were grounded in much of the country. With the wind making it feel well below zero in many areas (-55 in International Falls, Minn.!), most people are opting to hole up at home. But us dog people know that no matter what Mother Nature brings, we still have to walk our pups.  

It's weather like this that makes me thankful I trained a quick potty behavior! Because of this, I haven't bothered putting any extra layers on the dogs before they go outside to "do their business" (I don't even bother putting on a jacket myself). But if we were going to be outside longer than a few minutes, I'd definitely put their coats on... and maybe even booties!

With the freezing temperatures, outdoor play time is pretty much out of the question. Many of my friends planned long hikes on Sunday to exercise their dogs before the cold temperatures rolled in. When I winter hike with my pups, they wear their coats and I bring a fleece or down jacket for them to put on during breaks (so their muscles don't get cold). But the current temperatures and wind conditions are too cold for even the most bundled up dog. So I've resorted to indoor games that get the dogs' brains working, like box shaping and tugging, to burn off energy.  Self control games, like crate games, are great for tiring out pups (and have endless other benefits as well).

On a more disturbing note, there are many reports on social media of dogs left outside to freeze to death in the blistering cold. I really hope this problem is not as widespread as Facebook and other outlets makes it seem. In most areas the weather is too extreme even for dogs acclimated to winter temperatures.

How are you and your pup staying warm?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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