Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing With Dogs

We love our dogs. And our dogs love snow. For some reason, it just brings out the most playful side in them. And after a long spring, summer and fall without that white, fluffy fun stuff on the ground—or if it's your pup's first winter ever—the beginning of snow season is that much more exciting.

There's no better way to spend time with your best friend than to take him or her with you on your winter adventures, especially on your snowshoe or cross-country ski treks. It's a bonding experience that will get you both in shape. Plus, watching your little buddy romp with that smile on his or her face is priceless.

But Nordic skiing and snowshoeing with dogs takes some preparation, know-how and common sense. The same general rules apply to taking your dog on any outdoor excursion, but in winter you need to factor in the ways in which cold weather affects dogs. Here are some guidelines:

Pick a Good Route

Nordic or snowshoe centers, national or state parks and trail systems, backcountry wilderness, farmland (granted you know the owner), golf courses are all great places to take your pup. (Avoid snowmobile trails, though. The risks are much to high for mishaps and traumatic accidents to occur.)
Take proper precautions in wilderness, though. Frozen and snowed-over lakes are also good options but make sure the ice is thick enough that you won't fall in.

Get Familiar With the Trail Rules

Every season, more and more Nordic centers and trail systems are opening portions of their trails to dog owners who aren't lucky enough to have access to miles of wilderness, backcountry or farmland. Some of these places charge a fee for your four-legged companion, require leashes or designate certain trails only for dogs. Figure out the details before you go.