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Unless you’re the proud owner of a Siberian husky, chances are good that winter walks with your pup are going to be a lot shorter than the ones you take in more friendly temperatures.

But that doesn’t mean these walks are necessarily going to be easy — or that they should be! Just like any walk you take at another time of year, you want to keep both you and your pup safe while he gets the exercise and challenge he needs.

Here are six tips to ensure both of you enjoy your walk through this winter wonderland:

Trim nails for better traction
If you don’t do a good job of keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, you increase the chances of her slipping and sliding around — especially if there’s ice on the ground. If you want to help your dog to stay upright and avoid turning the walk into an unpleasant experience, cut them regularly.

Use a backpack
If frigid winds are limiting you and your pup to “bite-sized” walks and doing little to relieve your dog of his excess energy, one solution may be to add some weight to the walk — literally. Put a backpack on your dog and you may discover that it forces him to focus more and siphons off a lot of that “naughty” energy, turning him into the “nice” dog you’re used to the rest of the year.

Protect those delicate feet
Cold, snow, ice, salt, and more can all wreak havoc on your dog’s feet during the winter months. We’ve written before about using dog boots and balms, but one simple way to add a layer of protection is to slather on some petroleum jelly. Just be sure to wipe your dog’s feet before you come back inside.

Prevent pulling
While you never want your dog to pull you on the walk, it can be especially dangerous when there’s ice involved. If you’re still mastering the walk, use the Pack Leader Collar to keep your dog from (literally) pulling you onto thin ice and risking a fall — or worse.

Sometimes breed does matter
Certain longer-haired breeds may be begging you to stay out for more time when it’s cold outside, but if you’ve got a Chihuahua, a Doberman, or another short-haired dog, be very mindful of how cold they are. A nice, warm dog coat that doesn’t restrict movement is a good investment, but you may still want to watch the clock. If it’s freezing outside, a fifteen to twenty minute walk is probably more than enough time.

Don’t push yourself
Worry about keeping your dog safe, sure, but don’t neglect yourself in this equation. If the wind is cutting into your very soul and you can’t feel your fingers anymore, it’s probably a good sign that you should head back inside — even if your dog is still raring to go. There are other ways to get them exercise.

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