Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Winterizing Your Dog, Part 3

Winterizing Your Dog for Winter Travel


If your dog is anything like mine, you have a hard time leaving the house without him. A car ride is complete bliss! Winter travel can pose a unique set of challenges for you and your pet. Whether you’re going to the corner market, or on a long road trip, there are a few things you can do to keep your dog from feeling the effects of the cold while en route and when you arrive.

I’m not sure what it is about herding dogs, but they seem to have a true passion for adventure. Perhaps it’s a bit of wanderlust, since most of them no longer work vast ranges, or they just enjoy being with their people. Whatever the reason, they often manage to coerce us into taking them along for the ride.

Get caught up in the series: Winterizing Your Dog, Part 1  Winterizing Your Dog, Part 2


It may seem like no big deal to take your dog with you on quick errands during the winter. They certainly won’t overheat. However, if you live in a particularly cold climate, even short amounts of time left in the car can pose as much danger as a hot summer day.

Cars can act like refrigerators, letting the cold in and holding it there. Even with the sun shining, in cold climates the interior of a car can reach very low temperatures in a short amount of time. To help combat this, here are a few things you can do to keep your loyal companion warm and comfortable:

  • If it’s extremely cold outside and it’s not absolutely necessary to take your dog with you, leave him at home. He may be disappointed at first, but he’ll be much happier in the long run.
  • Put your dog’s winter jacket on before you get out of the car. This way he doesn’t have to work to warm both himself and the jacket up after you get out.
  • Never leave your dog in a cold car for extended periods of time. Depending on the outside temperature, little more than five to ten minutes can spell disaster.
  • If your pup is getting out to go with you, go ahead and put him in his jacket anyway. If his body isn’t having to adjust to extreme shifts in temperature, he will transition from the car to the building much more easily. Long-haired and short-haired herding dogs alike can benefit from a cozy sweater during car rides.
  • Keep an old towel in the back of the car to dry  his feet and remove ice melt that may have accumulated from walking outside.


Perhaps you, too, enjoy taking your dog to visit family during the holidays. Just as we pack for ourselves, your dog, too, should have his overnight bag ready to go. Food, toys and sweaters (if he’s short-haired) are obvious items to include. There are also special considerations for areas that can become snowy and cold quickly. In these areas, it is especially important to make sure your dog is as prepared as you are in case of an emergency on the road.

  • If you will be traveling through areas with no civilization around for any distance, make sure you have enough water not only for yourself, but also for your dog to survive a few days. Some parts of the country (and the rest of the world) can experience unexpected blizzards that can leave you stranded. Also make sure you have enough of your dog’s food packed for several days, in the unlikely event you become stranded.
  • Buy him a well-insulated winter jacket. Many outdoor sporting goods stores now offer jackets made for hunting or tracking dogs. If, for some reason you need to get out or find yourself without heat, he will need to be able to keep warm, too. Don’t forget to pack his boots, too, if he has some!  
  • Always have a leash with you. Never let your dog out of the car without first putting him on a leash. Even the most well-trained dogs can become excited and take off. Herding dogs have so much excess energy that they may decide to go for a run, with every intention of coming back, but get lost. Trying to find a dog in freezing temperatures is scary and dangerous for you, too.
  • Make sure you have all of his pertinent information with you, including his shot record, microchip number and any travel papers you may need for international travel (such as between the US and Canada).


Maybe you prefer to travel by air during the holidays. If you plan to fly with your dog, here are some additional details you may want to think about.

  • Get all proper health certifications and other documentation as required by the airline you plan to fly.
  • If your dog is too large to fly in the cabin with you, consider leaving him at home with an experienced pet sitter you trust. Most herding breeds are too large for in-cabin travel. Many airlines will accept dogs as checked baggage within certain parameters, but it’s still often too cold for the average household dog to endure. The air may feel chilly down here, but it’s MUCH, MUCH colder up there!  
  • Be sure that your dog has a safe, secure, airline-approved carrier. There are always stories about inadequate carriers coming apart and pets getting loose.
  • Never leave your dog unattended at the airport (or anywhere else, for that matter). The rules for not leaving your kids alone should apply to your pets, as well.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not it’s too cold to take your dog with you, err on the side of caution and leave him at home. He’ll be comfortable and you’ll be able to relax knowing that he’s safe and warm at home.

Article By:
Jennie Eilerts

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