Love to walk your dog, but feel confined by the snow? Don’t be resigned to getting all of your exercise on the indoor treadmill during the winter months. You can strap on snowshoes, grab the pooch, and go! It’s pretty simple, really. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and these days snowshoes have come a long way from your grandfather’s pair that resembled tennis racquets. Now they are made of materials such as lightweight aluminum, composite plastic, even titanium; they are high tech and are well designed.
Snowshoeing is a low-impact, calorie burning exercise that allows you to get out in nature and stave off cabin fever. Add a dog and voila! It’s the perfect snowy day activity for you and your canine companion to enjoy together.
As with any new exercise, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian. Most trim and fit dogs should do fine, but remember, walking through deep snow is physically demanding for your dog, so be sure to start out with a short outing and gradually build up to longer ones. Also, take a day pack and carry plenty of water and snacks for you both.
Don’t forget to check your dog’s paws for ice and snow, which can clump between your dog’s pads, resulting in painful ice balls. You might consider getting protective booties and/or having hairy paws trimmed. In addition, if your dog is not dressed in a heavy fur coat, like a Husky or Malamute, he might benefit from a man-made coat. There is outdoor gear for dogs that will not only keep your short-haired dog warm, but also the dog coats are breathable and water resistant.
Make sure the place you are planning to visit is dog-friendly, and if so, find out what the rules are. Some places allow dogs only in certain areas or at certain times of day, and there may be a charge. Also, your dog may be required to be on a leash or skijoring equipment (harness for the dog, a belt for the human and a towline to connect them). If your dog is off-leash, it’s important to be considerate of other trail users and keep your dog under control and out of the way. Another thing to be mindful of in North Idaho is trapping on public lands. Trapping seasons are open in Idaho for a variety of species at different times of the year, especially fall and winter. For more information go to the Idaho Fish and Game website.
As for the “doo,” you know what to do. That’s right, pick it up and pack it out. Good doggy etiquette helps to keep the trails dog friendly.
Don’t let the winter weather keep you on the couch. Get out of the house and into nature’s beauty. You will be spending quality time with best friend, which will no doubt result in happy tails and tales. Have fun out there!
Chris Shafer is the writer and creator of Dog About Town NW, a regional blog that celebrates dog ownership in the great Northwest where outdoor adventures are typically more than a walk in the park.