Exploring a Wintry Wonderland: A Pup’s Guide to Hiking Safety

December 24, 2017

Explore the Great Outdoors With Winter Safety in Mind for the Family Pooch

Winter HikeWintry weather has set in, but the family dog doesn’t mind the cold. In fact, larger breeds with thick coats often look forward to a romp in the snow because they’re built for these environments. Work off any cabin fever by exploring nature around Lakewood. Keep these winter-dog tips in mind as families brave the cold between December and March.

Pack Ample Supplies

Treat winter hikes as if it was summer when it comes to food and water. Bring human and puppy food so that everyone has the necessary energy. When it’s cold out in Lakewood, hikers of any species will require more energy than during a mild day. The body works hard to stay warm, which burns calories.

Dog treats and water should be on hand at all times. Ideally, avoid the habit of allowing the pup to eat snow. Although it’s technically water, it cools off the pup too much. Hypothermia is a real threat. Bring along water on any hiking trip.

Add an Insulated Jacket

When families work with a kennel from time to time, their pups might wear a sweater or jacket to stay warm. Take this fact into consideration and apply it to a wintry outing. The jacket should be insulated while covering most of the dog’s fur. If families are heading out to Waterton Canyon, jackets and leashes are basic gear. The pup has some fun outside of its dog daycare while remaining safe from actual wildlife encounters, such as big-horn sheep.

Be Patient With Booties

If humans walked around in the snow without shoes, the cold would impact the feet in little time. Apply this concept to the dog’s paws. Cold weather calls for protective wear for the pup. Purchase some booties that are designed for frigid temperatures.

It will take some time for the dog to get used to the items on their paws. They might walk strangely at first so try them out before a big hike. After a dog training session, put the booties on for about a half hour. Once the pup acclimates to the footwear, they’ll enjoy the protection on the snowy, hiking trail.

Maintain Visual Contact

A pooch may be well-behaved during their dog boarding days, but they can get a bit rambunctious afterward. During any hiking trip, maintain a visual of the pup. Allowing them off of the leash is legal on many hiking trails, but the handler must have a good relationship with the dog. Responding to commands is critical. If there’s any question about a dog’s obedience, keep the leash on it. Their safety should trump any thoughts of free walking through snowy lands.

Get Personal During Breaks

Everyone in the hiking party will need breaks throughout the adventure. Take advantage of this time by inspecting the dog as everyone rests. Look through the fur for any injuries or collective ice. Snow and ice can latch onto fur or between toes. Clear away any items that have solidified onto the dog’s fur or body. Their comfort will be obvious as the next hiking leg commences. Ice that remains on a dog’s body may poke and irritate the skin.

Know When to Stop

Every pet owner knows when there’s something different about their dog. Be observant about the pup’s behavior. If a bundle of energy is now a lethargic drag, stop hiking and evaluate the animal. Many pups simply need a break, or their time in the cold is essentially done. Keep an open mind about the pup’s endurance in the great outdoors. The cold can quickly drain the pet of its energy. Cut the trip short so that everyone is safe and happy with the adventure.

Warm Those Pup Treats

Humans don’t want cold treats on a winter hike and neither do dogs. Bring along motivational treats so that the dog has some incentive to keep on going. Carry the treats close to the body. The pet owner’s body heat warms the treats, which makes them attractive to the pooch. Every treat warms the dog’s body by just a little bit as the hike continues.

Research the Adventure

No outdoor adventure is appealing if it’s not well suited to the participants. Research trails near a family’s home or dog boarding facility. The Alderfer/Three Sisters Park near Evergreen, CO, has about 15 miles of trails that are distinctive. Learn about hiking distances, difficulty levels and possible weather issues that impact each adventure. The family dog may be used to a comfortable kennel during the day so a wintry adventure will be a dramatic change. Stimulating the family dog in this manner only invigorates its spirit and bonds it once again to its master.

Loving Those Colorado Trails

After taking the family pup to dog training, it’s time to make those lessons pay off with some fun in the outdoors. Golden is home to a state park that’s full of trails designed for the family pooch. At the visitor center, grab a map of the available trails that have varying intensities.

Bear Creek Trail is another gem that’s popular with Colorado residents. It’s a busy thoroughfare at times, however, so families can gauge if they want the pup to socialize or not. Trails extending out into the surrounding areas are more open to off-leash adventures.

When most of the family isn’t ready to hit the outdoors, consider a play date for the pup. Make friends with other pet owners at dog daycare so that impromptu treks to nearby trails are possible. These Golden residents may be itching to get outdoors too. By watching out for one another, both pet owners and pups have a chance to experience winter’s wonder with as much safety involved as possible.