Plan your travel route with your furry companion's abilities in mind
Choose a dog-friendly trail and know the rules
Know the terrain and conditions
Check the weather
Fill out a trip plan and a plan B
Obtain the knowledge and skills you both need before heading out.
Physically prepare your dog for winter hiking
Make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise and is fit before heading out on a big hike. Start with smaller winter hikes and slowly increase the time for the next training hike.
Know your dog's limits
Snow drifts and deep powder on the trail can cause exhaustion very quickly from jumping through the snow. Don't hesitate to modify your plans to accommodate your dog's abilities.
Help your dog acclimate to the weather
Some dog breeds are naturally equipped for long hike in the cold weather, but not all of them. Start by hiking in the cold around home before heading out to help your dog acclimate to the colder weather.
Practice obedience and trail etiquette
It's important to be able to maintain control of your dog at all times, on and off leash. Only bring your dog on the trails if they are well-trained and obedient. Be respectful of other hikers and remember that some may not like dogs as much as you do. Always clean up after your dog. Try to keep them from disturbing local scenery and wild animals.
Know how to monitor your dog's condition
- Is your dog showing fatigue by panting hard, whining, or limping?
- Does your dog constantly stops?
- Is your dog shivering?
- Are your dog's paws sore or tender to the touch? Are they chapped or scraped from the snow and ice?
- If your dog has very cold paws, nose, ears, or tip of the tail, of if you see discolouration in those areas, it may be an early sign of frostbite.
- When you notice your dog starting to feel uncomfortable, it's time to stop and head back.
Taking the Essentials
Make sure you have the proper gear and that your dog gets accustomed to the equipment before undertaking a long hike.
- Identification (up-to-date tag, GPS, microchip)
- Navigation (sturdy leash, harness)
- Visibility (beacon light for dog, high-visibility vest)
- Paw care (dog booties, pad salve)
- Hydration (water, collapsible bowl)
- Nutrition (food, dog treats)
- Sanitation (biodegradable bags, poo bag dispenser, dog pocket)
- First-aid kit
- Travel pad, sleeping bag or blanket
- Dog backpack
- Essentials for Hiking Dogs in the Winter
- The Best Free Dog-Friendly Snowshoeing Trails to Do in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor This Winter
- Essential Tips to Keep Pets Safe in the Snow
- Keep the Trails Pet Friendly By Following Dog Hiking Etiquette