3. Do a Practice Run
Once you choose the trail, do a practice run with Fido. While this isn't necessary, it's important in two specific situations:
- If it's your dog first winter hike, take a long walk or stroll through a trail with snow. This will help Fido get used to trekking in the fluffy stuff for long periods of time.
- If you choose a longer or more strenuous trail than your dog is used to, train them to complete it the same way you would train yourself.
4. Have a Back Up Plan
Like hiking with kids, you can never be sure how the hike will actually play out with a dog by your side. If your dog becomes too tired, uncomfortable or cold they may resist continuing. Come to the hike with:
- A good turnaround point: Find an overlook, or a spot 1 to 2 miles from the start in case your pup seems hesitant to push on.
- An alternate trail: If you plan a long hike, look for an alternate trail that you can switch to if Fido is struggling.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
Frequent breaks along the trail allow you to check in with Fido and make sure he's able to continue on. When you stop, look for:
Snow between the paws: Dogs will lick the snow off their feet, consequently attracting more snow to stick. During your break, check the dog's paws and wipe them off if necessary.
Frozen furry chunks: Look for snow chunks on your dog's body, especially underneath where most contact with the snow is being made.
If you want your dog's experience to be as great as yours, keep these dog safety tips in mind. When you come prepared and choose an appropriate trail, you can both enjoy the winter wilderness.
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