Professional dog walking is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I absolutely love setting my own schedule, being outside, and getting to spend my days with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Most mornings, I wake up happy and excited to go to work. The only time that doesn’t happen? When I look out the window and see rain or snow coming down. I’ve been a dog walker in Los Angeles, Denver, and New York City, so I’ve done this job in a variety of climates, but I’ve never learned to like walking in bad weather.
Sometimes the dogs don’t like it either—but sometimes they do! Plenty of dogs don’t mind the rain or snow and even enjoy it. Here are some tips on how to make sure you’re giving the best walks possible even as the seasons change and the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Bring the Proper Supplies
One of the most important rules for dog walking is to be prepared! I always check the weather for the whole day before I leave the house, because sometimes I pick up new walks on the go and end up staying out longer than I thought. If there’s even a slight chance of rain, make sure you bring not only your jacket but also an umbrella, because an umbrella can protect the dog from getting wet too. I have a special hands-free umbrella so that I can use both hands for holding leashes, and it’s perfect. If it’s going to be hot and sunny, make sure you bring a bowl and an extra water bottle for the dog.
Familiarize Yourself with Dog Breeds
Different dogs will respond in different ways to extreme weather. For example, breeds like St. Bernards and Samoyeds are made for cold, snowy conditions. Their size and fur type makes it unlikely that they will get too cold when walking in the snow, but they need extra care if you’re walking them on a hot day, as they can overheat more quickly than other dogs. Chihuahuas, on the other hand, tend to have very little fat and fur and may need shorter walks or cold-weather gear in order to go out on a cold day.
Think About Yourself
While the goal of every walk is to give the dog the best possible experience, one of the best ways to do that is to ensure your own safety and comfort, not just that of the dog. Here’s an example: I once went for a walk in the snow wearing sneakers instead of boots, but I assumed it would be fine because most of the sidewalks were shoveled. Unfortunately, I walked over some hidden ice and because I was only wearing sneakers, I slipped and fell, and so did the little Goldendoodle whose leash I was holding. Luckily neither of us was hurt, but we could have been, and it was an important lesson for me. If I’m not wearing the proper footwear or don’t have the correct gear for the weather, it doesn’t just affect me, but also the dogs. Their safety is the top priority!
What are your go-to supplies for you and your pup in the colder and rainy months?