Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What Can You Learn from a Vizsla in the Winter?

What Can You Learn from a Vizsla in the Winter?
Lately, it’s been frigid cold in north-central Montana. We haven’t been above a HIGH of five degrees in over a week now, with the cold temps expected to last through this coming Sunday. As a farmer, my husband follows weather like it’s religion, and he said the cold air is literally air that has come from Siberia.

Needless to say, we’ve been spending most of our time indoors. At school, the kids have had indoor recess for a week now, and my treadmill has been seeing a lot of love at home. Waaaay too cold to run outside with windchills in the -20s or worse.

Harvey, our short-haired Vizsla dog has been surviving the cold as well. Vizslas are definitely NOT an outside breed in the winter. They have no undercoat and their hair is short. Harvey spends most of his time inside anyway, but even moreso when it’s this cold. I started thinking about what Harvey does to “survive” the coldest days of winter, and thought it would make a fun post! There may be a few tips for humans in there, too! 

Bundle Up!
Even though he wears a fur coat at all times (ha!) Harvey wears extra layers when it’s this cold outside. Even if he’s only going out for a short time, he wears at least a hoodie or his wool coat. Sometimes he even wears both! He’s not a huge fan of putting on the layers, but once he has them on, they don’t seem to bother him.

Frankly, I tend to agree. It can be cumbersome to bundle up and pile on the scarves, hats, mittens, coats, boots, etc. BUT I also like to be WARM! Bundle up out there, people!
Harvey wears his wool coat. Actually sort of like a cape. 
Harvey also has two different hoodies just like this one. One red, and one black.
Sometimes we layer his wool cape over a hoodie for extra warmth.

Fortify Yourself
When Harvey comes in from outside, he almost always hits his food dish first. Something about the cold seems to make him extra hungry. Even if it’s just one or two kibbles, he pretty much always gets a snack. I’d recommend the same for we humans! There’s nothing better than a warm hot chocolate, cider, or cup of tea after coming in from the cold.

Harvey was extra spoiled this past weekend, though, as Jeff and I were working on processing deer meat into jerky. Harvey was very interested in what we were doing, and in waiting for the odd piece of ground venison to drop!
Jeff is loading a jerky gun and is about to squeeze it out onto the dehydrator tray.
Harvey is VERY interested in these proceedings. 

Find a Warm Place to Lie
Harvey excels at finding the warmest places to lay down. Whether bundled up on “his chair,” or curled up on the rug in front of the kitchen sink… which is conveniently located right under a warm air vent… Harvey knows just where to go to warm up!
Seriously... look at that face!

He also has already claimed this old quilt I was finishing up as his own. He likes blankets and furniture that are the same color family as his coat, I think!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been keeping blankets in heavy rotation during these cold days. Harvey is onto something yet again!

Exercise Indoors
When temps are sub-zero and wind chills are dangerously low, it’s time to take the exercise regimen indoors. On a typical nice day, Harvey gets at least 30-60 minutes of off-leash exercise pretty much daily, whether running or walking with us outside. Vizslas need A LOT of exercise, and this gets challenging when it’s so cold outside. Harvey will typically go out and “help” Jeff with some farm chores, and romp in the snow while doing so, but this doesn’t really cut a dent in his energy level. We have to get a little creative with keeping him entertained and helping him burn off steam inside.

Harvey does have his toy crate, but frankly prefers plastic water bottles over just about any dog toy you could buy. We’ll toss some of these around the room for him to pounce on and tackle.

Another favorite activity of Harvey’s is wrestling with Jeff, and something we call “back and forth,” which is where Jeff and I each go to different places in the house, and then call Harvey to us. He’ll go tearing at full speed from one of us, back to the other, and back and forth again and again. Preferably, one of us will be upstairs in the living room and the other downstairs somewhere in the basement. Those stairs really tire him out after several trips at full speed!

Once again, Harvey is on to something. Jeff and I have both been exercising indoors lately. In between games of Back and Forth with Harvey, which is in itself fairly tiring, we’re using our treadmill or elliptical and doing other things inside. You can always get creative and find ways to stay in shape, even if it means staying inside.

Even Harvey can be distracted from the cold outside by things like Christmas decorating and wrapping presents.
Ok… he was definitely more interested in attacking the wrapping paper tube than in wrapping presents! People can definitely stay busy with all the trappings of Christmas, too, and maybe even forget that it’s too cold outside to do anything fun anyway… right?

Settle In for the Night
At the end of the day, it’s always nice to snuggle in to a warm, soft dog bed…

Who am I kidding?! Harvey sleeps in the people bed! It works out great for us, too, because he’s like a little space heater!

Stay warm out there, people! And learn from a Vizsla that the coldest days of winter are survivable with a little creativity! 


  1. I love this post! Vizslas are so not cold weather dogs...poor things. It's been very cold here this week and Matilda has been pretty miserable. We do a lot of the same 'games' that you do, 'ping-pong' where we call her from different places, kind of hide and go seek of sorts. We haven't tried the plastic water bottles though, we definitely will!

    ...also Tilda is ALWAYS in front of a heater vent :)

    1. Sounds like Tilda and Harvey employ many of the same strategies!!! Stay warm, my friend! :)


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