If you’re like most active pet parents, you love to get out and take Fido for a jaunt during the winter months. If you have never tried snowshoeing with your dog, it’s time to give it a go.
Snowshoeing provides people and pets with an active, healthy way to get outside for some fresh air, beautiful scenery and sunshine, even in the dead of winter. If you are interested in taking up this fun winter sport, get started with these simple tips.
Preparing Your Pet
Most dogs will take quickly to snowshoeing alongside their owners and will not require any training to have a great time. In order to set your dog up for success and make sure she has a great time, prepare her adequately.
You wouldn’t want to go outside in the winter without a coat on and, if your dog is shaved or of a particularly shorthaired variety, he probably does not want to, either. Equip dogs that get cold easily with a light winter coat and consider purchasing boots for pups with particularly sensitive paws.
Dog booties provide traction and also prevent puppy toes from becoming too cold. If the snow where you live is heavy and wet and likely to build up in balls between your dog’s paw pads, consider smearing the paws with Vaseline to prevent snow buildup and protect the paws from cuts, scrapes and friction.
Know Your Pet’s Athletic Abilities
In addition to the above preparations, you also need to have a good sense of your dog’s stamina and athletic ability before you head out into the snow. If your dog gets tired easily or is a senior animal, pick a shorter route. If your dog is particularly large, do not head into an area with incredibly deep snow, as the dog will probably break through the snow’s crust and get bogged down in the powder. Smaller dogs generally stay atop the snow but may become tired easily and need to be carried home.
Pick Your Route Carefully
Snowshoeing with your dog is a great way to spend a winter’s day, but you want to be careful about where you choose to go. Most states that get ample snow have a whole host of designated, public snowshoe trails that may also be used by Nordic or back country skiers. These trails are generally free to use and well maintained.
If you are new to snowshoeing, stick to marked and groomed trails until you get the hang of it. Even if you are an old hat, pay careful attention to your area’s snow and avalanche reports in order to avoid getting into an area with unstable snow pack or a high avalanche risk. On most snowshoe trails, dogs do not need to be on a leash, although it is always polite to pick up after your pet.
Winter is a long season and snowshoeing with Fido is a great way to get out and enjoy it. Be sure to prepare your pup before heading out into the snow and, whatever you do, don’t forget the number one rule: have a great time!