It hasn’t really felt much like it of late, but winter is almost here! As many of you already know, The Red Pointy Dog team absolutely loves the snow. Manzo and Piper wake up like kids excited for a day off from school when the first snow comes every year. It’s so much fun to watch them turn into puppies right before our eyes as they play, romp, eat and roll in the snow. Times like these are the times where we really bond as a family. Manzo and Piper’s humans also love the snow! There is something magical about how the woods around where we live get so quiet as the snow muffles all the sounds around us. Just like many of your dogs, Manzo and Piper keep us exercised quite well. The winter months are no exception. One of the reasons we love winter so much and one of the things that has made Manzo and Piper’s winter lives so much easier, more active and more fun is our snow shoes!
Snow shoes are one of those pieces of equipment that everyone has heard of, most people have tried and a lot of people have them but many people never use. They can feel cumbersome! If you are snowshoeing, by definition that means the weather isn’t the easiest to be out in. If you are an inexperienced snowshoer, trying to get control of your dog can be pretty difficult! There are however some big benefits snowshoes provide. They make trudging through the deep snow something that is enjoyable rather than miserable. They also keep your trails safer, preventing frozen post holes that can hurt your dog if they aren’t paying attention. They make it much easier for dogs with short legs, older dogs, and even dogs who collect big snow balls between their toes can enjoy their walks and stay safe. Sometimes, the paths that snowshoes make through the deep snow can help keep your dog closer to you as well. None will happen though if snowshoeing with your dog seems too difficult to even attempt. Here are our top tips for snowshoeing with your dog to hopefully make your outings more fun!
1. Get used to the snowshoes without your dog first.
Snowshoeing takes time to get used to! Practicing without your dog will allow you to find your stride, get comfortable with the motion and gain confidence before adding them into the mix.
2. Watch your step.
Our dogs are often not the best at respecting personal space. If we elongate our feet, a lot of dogs won’t change anything about the way they interact with us! This can lead to stepping on paws and your dog tripping you. Your dog likely won’t be watching out for your feet so it’s up to you to look out for them.
3. Be aware when your dog is behind you.
Growing up we had an amazing dog named Maggie and she loved going out into the snow. She had a blast running through the woods and she loved stepping on the back of our snowshoes! To this day I swear she used to do it on purpose! She would step on the back of your snowshoes at the exact perfect moment to take you down. Once you had face planted into the snow she would run past you and I swear you could hear her laugh! If your dog is walking behind you, keep an eye out and don’t walk too fast!
4. Lengthen your leash.
Longer leashes, think 10 feet, can make life a lot easier. I won’t lie, it is easier to get tangled while you get used to your new big feet. Giving your dog a little extra space can make getting tangled less likely. If you are using hiking or ski poles, consider a waist leash as well.
5. Know your dog.
Dog toes can get cold out there in the winter. Long fur can collect snowballs that can be uncomfortable or even painful. Take time to make sure your dog is staying warm and safe while you are out there snowshoeing. If you need more info about winter dog gear and how to help your dog get comfortable wearing it, check out our blog How to Teach Your Dog to Wear Winter Boots.
6. Get Creative.
One of the best things I did last year was packing down a maze for the pups. I went out without them and spent a bunch of time really packing down a maze with multiple path choices, dead ends and a nice spiral in the middle. We put treats throughout the maze and the dogs had a blast trying to find the prize in the middle!
So there you have it. A few tips to make snowshoeing with your dog easier, safer and more fun! Have you gone snowshoeing with your dog? Have you thought about it but aren’t sure where to start? Join us over in the Homework club to continue this discussion!