Winter Hiking with Dogs requires extra care. Prepare using these helpful tips.
Assuming you’re hiking with a well-behaved dog who knows basic obedience commands, here are a few extra things to keep in mind when hitting the trails during winter:
1. Choose trails that are appropriate for your dog’s physical abilities. Just because your dog is used to five-mile hikes doesn’t mean he’ll be able to do the same in deep snow.
2. Start slow. Let your dog get used to walking in snow and ice before increasing the distance or difficulty of your hikes.
3. Be prepared to turn back if conditions are too difficult or your dog seems uncomfortable.
4. Dress your dog in appropriate gear. A coat or sweater will help keep your dog warm, and booties can protect his feet from the cold and salt. We recommend Ruffwear dog boots. Make sure you train them to wear boots BEFORE the hike (and have a camera ready, because the first time can be a rodeo!).
5. Be aware of your dog’s energy level. In the cold weather, your dog will burn more calories to keep warm. Make sure to bring extra food and water on your hikes, for BOTH of you.
6. Dogs can overheat in cool weather. Heavy panting and frequently trying to lay in the snow are signs that your dog is too hot.
7. Check your dog for frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite usually affects the tips of your dog’s ears, toes, and tail. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy, and uncoordinated movement. If you suspect your dog has either condition, seek medical attention immediately.
8. Always check weather forecasts before heading out, and let friends and family know your location. Be sure you are adequately prepared with the right gear and plenty of water. It is better to be safe than to be sorry!
Happy winter hiking!
Want to head out off leash? Dog Dynamix offers off leash dog training programs to get that hound trail bound.