Inside more often, not getting enough exercise, over-eating: normally, we people worry about gaining weight around holidays and in the winter. This scenario is far from the case with dogs at camp. With our camper dogs we worry more about losing weight in this season.
If the high temperature is slated to break 32 and the wind is not super high, you can bet that most dogs will get a nice time outside at some points in the day – maybe several shorter romps, but they add up. If the temperature is 45, they will have even more time outside. We have central heat, wood stove, and a well-insulated facility, but we shoot for about an average of 50-60 degrees F in the winter. It’s just that most dogs are more comfortable at a cooler temperature. If the outside temperature is close to freezing or above, we let most dogs be outside most of the time.
Even on very cold days – which we have not really had this year – we still have the great open spaces for them to explore in our enormous barn. They move around a lot even inside.
This video is kind of a tour of the building and around the area. You can see how much fun they are having exploring the completely open and huge area.
If they are older, or have a thinner coat, they can curl up by the stove and get as warm as they need to but most -younger ones with more fur- will have access to the outside for long periods and won’t be at human room temperature at night.
Any time of year, the dogs here usually get significantly more exercise than at home.
We can try to make up for the need for extra calories by feeding more – and we do that. But a lot of dogs do seem to have the sense that they are enough and stop. Also, the food we feed them is probably pretty concentrated and healthy and doesn’t have a lot of filler. Or so we hope. We can make up more calories with treats- and we are definitely more generous with treats in the winter.
We try to send dogs home about the same weight as when they arrived. This goal is not too hard to achieve in most cases in the summer, spring and fall but in the winter it can be tricky.
We have tried to weigh in all the dogs. One problem with that is, our scale seems to reset itself and isn’t great. The other is that some dogs move on the scale and we might not always get it right. But the weigh-in process is good, since it might help us get a baseline. The other issue is keeping up and weighing them frequently enough. It takes time. Cleaning the yards takes time. Washing out the vans takes time. Putting the Glencadia collars on and replacing the ones that fall off takes time. Washing dogs takes time. Going for a romp takes time. Uploading pictures and editing videos takes time.
Dogs might go home tired and a bit thinner. It isn’t a sign that they were sick or something bad happened. It’s a sign they were living a more natural life- with plenty of exercise, an austere and a healthy diet. However, we will work to keep the weight on. We can limit some of the outside time for the thinner and less greedy voracious eaters. We can increase food and treat rations. We can and do try those things, but maybe even more so in the future.
We’ll keep at this and get better keeping them at the same weight – unless there is a specific request to gain or lose weight by the owner.
Thanks for reading!