How to Go Snowshoeing With Your Dog: Tips for Winter Hikes

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You’re an avid winter sports enthusiast and looking for something different to do with your canine this winter? Snowshoeing may be the perfect activity for you and your furry friend. And I’m sure you will love it, especially if you like to go hiking with your pup.

Snowshoeing is a low-impact aerobic exercise that can provide your pooch with much-needed physical and mental stimulation while allowing them to enjoy mother nature at its finest! What’s more, it’s inexpensive and more accessible than many winter outdoor activities like snowboarding and cross-country skiing with dogs (skijoring).

Without further ado, let’s get you started on some great tips for taking your pup snowshoeing so that you can head out to your nearest dog-friendly snowy trails this winter for some fresh air and exercise!

Winter Hikes with Dogs
Caption: A couple is showshoeing with their dog

Will Your Dog Like Snowshoeing?

Before you do anything else, let’s start with the obvious and ask yourself, will your canine love snowshoeing? If you think your pooch may not enjoy snowshoeing, take them out for a short test run before committing to hitting the trails!

Check if the Trail is Dog-Friendly

The first thing you should do before you head out is to call and check if dogs are welcome on the trail. You would also want to find out the rules, such as whether or not dogs are required to be on a leash at all times, can dogs go off-leash, any off-limits areas to pets, and if there are specific dog breeds not allowed.

Is Your Dog the Right Snowshoeing Partner?

You know your dog likes the snow and that the trail is dog-friendly, but that doesn’t mean your dog is an ideal candidate for snowshoeing. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself before hitting the trails:

  • Does your dog have any medical conditions?
  • Does your canine have enough stamina for winter hikes?
  • What type of coat does your dog have? Can they tolerate the cold temperatures?
  • Is your dog always friendly with other pups and humans they meet on their adventures in nature?
  • Does your furry friend pull on the leash? If so, you might want to get an anti-pull dog harness to teach them leash manners first.
  • Is your dog at the right age to hike with you?
  • Does your fido know the basics and commands for hiking?

If you answer all these questions favorably, then congratulations! If not, it may be better to stick with short walks around the neighborhood or just exercise your dog indoors.

Teach Your Pup to Navigate in the Snow

We can all agree that traveling through a winter landscape and deep snowdrifts isn’t the same as hiking in the summer. And dogs often like to walk beside or in front of their owners. That also means your adventurous pup will often post holes or sink into the snow, especially if you let them wear a dog pack.

And as you can imagine, this will be very tiring and is no easy task for your four-legged friend. However, there’s one way you can help make navigating snowy terrain easier for them, which is to teach them to walk behind you!

Plan Your Snowshoeing Trip Accordingly

Winter hikes require more effort and preparation than usual walks. So, it’s vital to plan your trip accordingly.

If you’re going snowshoeing with your pup for the first time, take on a shorter hike to get them used to it before tackling more challenging routes. Take things one step at a time, so both of you are comfortable with the experience.

It’s also crucial to know when enough is enough as many hazards and cold-related injuries like frostbite and hypothermia can arise. If your dog is tired, cold, or struggling to carry on, don’t push them past their limits. Just turn around and head back to the trailhead.

Read More: How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs to Hike or Walk Outside?

Protect Your Dog’s Paws and Keep them Warm With Appropriate Dog Winter Gear

Snowshoeing With Dogs
Caption: Appropriate dog winter gear is recommended for showshoeing

Just as you need a pair of snowshoes and appropriate clothing to keep yourself warm, dogs need protection from the cold weather, too.

So, make sure to keep your dog’s feet warm and protect them from frostbite and prevent snowballs and ice balls from forming between and around their pads with a good set of dog booties for snow or organic paw wax.

And depending on your dog’s breed, you may also need to get them a dog coat or sweater and winter knitted beanie to ensure they are comfortable.

Read More: Top 17 Winter Dog Care and Safety Tips

Remember to Bring Your Dog’s Gear and Essentials

You obviously will need to pack your dog’s food and water, too, as well as treats for motivation, especially if going on a long hike. Apart from that, there are a few things you should bring as well. That includes a first aid kit, dog carrier backpack, and a GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking device for dogs. We’ve compiled a list of equipment and things your dog needs for snowshoeing. Make sure to take a moment to check it out.

Take Frequent Breaks and Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Walking through trails covered in deep snow can be hard on your dog, so don’t hesitate to take breaks and offer your pup plenty of water. That is especially important if the hike involves a lot of uphill walking or any ice climbing. We’ve also put together some safety tips for snowshoeing with dogs, which I highly recommend you to read.

Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop

No Dog Poop
Caption: Don't leave your dog's poop on the trail

Dog poop is not only unsightly and can contaminate the environment, but it also contains harmful bacteria or parasites that could make canines who come in contact with it sick. So, be sure to practice good trail etiquette and pick up after your dog.

Wrapping Up

I hope that these tips will help you better prepare for the next winter hike with your pup. And again, make sure you bundle up your canine companion with appropriate clothing, and don’t forget about your dog’s leash and harness!