Photos by: Kevin Roberts
Release your inner yeti this winter and bring the dog along for a snowshoeing adventure!
Snowshoeing is great exercise, not to mention a ton of fun and fairly fraction of the cost. You can get a pair at most sporting goods stores, and even department stores (I got mine at Costco), or rent them for the day. And there’s no reason why your dog shouldn’t join you in this winter sport. But before you head out on your picnic, Kevin Roberts, snowshoer extraordinaire, presents these important tips for ensuring your dog can keep up, stay comfortable and keep energized on you trek across the trails of the winter tundra.
id please. There is no worse feeling than losing a pet. Tag collars are insurance—if you and your dog get separated, people who find them will be able to contact you and facilitate a speedy reunion. Make sure the tag contains your cell phone number. When you’re out in the cold, keep your mobile phone in an inside pocket. Your body heat will keep the battery warmer and it will be more likely to function in an emergency.
- Appearance is important for success. Whether it’s booties or a coat, you need to know what your dog needs for comfort in the snow. Proper fitting shoes allow the dog to spread his toes while walking. It’s just right for dogs sticking to trails, or it’s light enough to walk over snow. The boots are not good for dogs braving through deep snow — if the snow slides down into the bootie, snowballs will form. This can lead to damaged and uncomfortable paws.
- Snack time. Mmmmm…the food. Snowshoeing is a full-body workout for both you and your dog. And after any great workout, you need to refuel. Saving heat and moving through deep snow burns calories fast. Look for a dog treat that he will eagerly eat on the trail. Some dogs are more fussy than others – while Bill will eat anything, a burger is his choice of what he buys. I’m testing at home so I only pack things that I know he’ll eat. Look for a treat that is high in fat and protein. Fat to give your dog an energy boost, and protein will keep him going the distance and aid in muscle recovery.
Related: Wellness CORE Super Protein Bars
- drink. Keeping your dog properly hydrated is a big deal. Dogs that eat snow tell you they are thirsty. It can be hard to tell if a dog is thirsty, and they often don’t drink enough water to keep their entire body hydrated for strenuous activity such as snowshoeing. If you want to check your dog’s hydration level, just take a look at his urine! Remember this: white and clear, don’t worry, honey, yellow and stinky, drink, drink, drink! I always carry water with me, to which a little melted beef fat is added – this mixture is irresistible to my dogs. They like it, so they drink more, and I can tell that every dog got enough water.
RELATED: Corgo Collaps A Bowl
- wax on. For adventures with a massive trail of deep snow, you’ll want to use dog paw pads. There are many brands of paw wax, formulated to protect your dog from snowballs building up between their toes. They also protect the paw pad itself by forming a waxy shield against the cold.
Related: Muttluks Pawstik and Pawmagik Paw Painkillers
- Free hands. To make it a full body workout, I prefer using a set of poles when snowshoeing. This gives my arms a much needed constitution, and helps with my balance on hills. Now, I can’t walk my dog very well on leash and hold poles at the same time. I’ve tried, but it’s not really fun. I prefer attaching dog lines to my waist using a trekking strap. With the dogs secured to my waist, I was still able to maintain control of the leash, while keeping my hands free. If you choose the two-handed method, use a longer line to keep the dog a foot away. I prefer using a mean skijoring line, because they have a built in internal bong. The bungee helps take some of the pressure off the sudden movements.
- harness. When snowshoeing, a harness is the best way to keep your dog safe and comfortable. When moving in deep snow, attaching the leash to the collar is more likely to get tangled in your dog’s legs. This can be dangerous, as well as definitely annoying (having to loosen your dog every two minutes reduces the fun). You’ll have an easier time keeping your dog tangle-free with a strap that has a back attachment. Using a harness with an attachment point on the forefoot is not suitable for snowshoes – you want the dog to have full range of motion with their front legs to get out of deep snow. An added bonus: A harness is a useful safety option should your dog fall through thin ice or into deep powder.