Monday, March 18, 2019 Elyria 32°
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Outdoors

Walking (the dog) in a winter wonderland

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    Chronicle outdoor writer Brad Zahar's German shorthaired pointer Macie loves to play in the snow. Many places around Northeast Ohio allow dogs and their owners the opportunity to stay active in winter.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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    Chronicle outdoor writer Brad Zahar's German shorthaired pointer Macie loves to play in the snow. Many places around Northeast Ohio allow dogs and their owners the opportunity to stay active in winter.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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When it comes to winter, there isn’t a middle ground. You either enjoy it or hope to fast-forward through it.

The same can be said for our pets. Winter marks the time of the year where dogs have loads of stored up energy and long for exercise.

A good rule when handling pets outdoors in the winter: If you’re cold, they’re cold. Not every breed can handle the outdoors. Dogs with thick, furry coats can still get hypothermia or frostbite. Keep an eye on things like their paws and paw pads for ice and any cracking on the pads.

Booties are a good idea along with some type of jacket or sweater for your furry friend as these can help prevent any injury or harm due to the wintry conditions.

Here in Northeast Ohio there are a lot of outdoor activities for dogs and their owners and many places people can take their best friends. Unlike some national parks in the western or southern United States, our region is fortunate to have very few restrictions on where our dogs can go. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is dog-friendly as is Findley State Park in Wellington.

There are some restrictions within Lorain County Metro Parks. Dogs are restricted on some trails and it can change during certain times of the year. Signage is good and restrictions are clearly marked online and at the parks. But there’s always a place for our dogs to walk and us to enjoy the outdoors with them. The dogs, however, need to be leashed, which is the case for almost anywhere around Northeast Ohio, and should be practiced for the safety of both your dog and other dogs.

Some dogs love burying themselves and rolling around in the snow. Hiding toys and playing fetch in the thick, white snow is a lot of fun for them and provides a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. Keeping them warm is a part of this activity though, as ice and snow in their paw pads can be uncomfortable.

For those who enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, your dog can accompany you on those endeavors, too. With parks having trails that allow skiing, snowshoeing and pets, it’s a natural combo to bring and spend time with your dog outdoors.

There are some great trails across the CVNP, Buckeye Trail and many of the local metro parks that allow outdoors lovers to take in the scenery and ensuing snow. While winter hikes and sports aren’t for every person and every dog, this can be a fun time of year to try something new that you and your pup may both enjoy.

The winter is tough on a lot of us and our pets, too. Getting them out and about is important and can also help us to find ways to enjoy the winter months a little bit more.

Sitting inside isn’t easy for the outdoor enthusiast, but embracing the season is a way to get through it.

Remember to keep pets safe and warm and you’ll be able to keep them exercised while increasing your fun this winter season.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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