Winter Sports

Snowshoeing with Dogs

When we go snowshoeing we have the usuals we pack with us: compass, first aid kit, emergency kit (including matches, hand-warmers, emergency blankets), flashlight, snacks, extra gloves/hats etc. Read this post I wrote about snowshoeing safely: Snowshoeing Safety Tips.

Now that we have Bella we bring extra stuff for her. She has a little pack that she wears when we hike that carries her “gear.” It’s not heavy and she doesn’t mind the pack. In her pack are poo bags, her collapsible water dish, her booties, and extra snacks.

We recently went snowshoeing and decided to leave Bella at home. While we had the gear and stuff for her, it was just a better idea. Sure it would be nice to have her with us whenever we go out and play in the snow, but sometimes the temperature is just too severe (and 15 degrees was definitely too cold for her!). The thing is, it makes a difference what kind of dog you have. You got a big fluffy husky or a dog with lots of hair? They would probably be okay in snow and low temperatures like that. But our Miss Bella has very short hair and a bare belly so not a good plan for her. So after you make the decision on temperatures and your own dog, go ahead and read some of these tips:

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Check for signs of hypothermia.

This was something I didn’t know a lot about before we got a dog. When we take her hiking, I keep an eye on her for changes in behavior due to weather. When we hike in the summer we make sure she gets a ton of water and plenty of rest in the shade when it’s hot. There have been times when she was panting a LOT and I was concerned she was overheating. We’re still figuring things out. Hypothermia is scary because it can happen so fast.

“Puppies and elderly dogs are especially susceptible; watch for shivering, slowed breathing or dilated pupils, signs of a dangerous drop in body temperature. We pack plenty of snacks and water, and examine our Labs’ paws frequently for the ice and snow that can clump between pads.  (source)”

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Check the paws frequently.

Snow and ice can get stuck between the pads and chafe, cut, freeze or cause loss of traction. Bella has a history of paw injuries so we are super diligent about checking her paws on a regular basis and taking steps to make sure they are protected. Some of the things I’ve used are the following products:

Musher’s Secret – It’s similar to vaseline in consistency. We tried this for a little bit snowshoeing but I realized it came off too easily and we switched to her booties (which was a good decision).

Eqyss Mega Tek Coat Rebuilder — This is what I use on Bella’s paws when they are starting to feel rough. I used this after our snowshoeing trip and after every hike for a few days afterward to protect and build her paws back up.

Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boot — These boots are AMAZING. They have helped Bella so much with her paw issues! I would never snowshoe without these. They are a must. 

It’s a good idea to stick to trails that are compacted and not super deep. Having booties will do nothing if the dog sinks down into deep snow.

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Bring plenty of snacks for the dog.

Bella got some treats for Christmas so I packed them along with us and we stopped a lot for treats. I knew she’d be burning a lot of calories and energy playing in the snow and I wanted to make sure she was okay. It’s a good idea to pack a “survival” kit for your dog when going hiking or snowshoeing.

Bring enough water for you AND the dog.

Get a collapsible water bowl. It’s great! It’s easy to pack in her pack, or ours, and we stop a lot for her to have water breaks. She’s pretty intuitive and knows when she needs water and when she’s done drinking. So make sure to pack enough water for you AND your dog. And stop frequently for water and snack breaks.

Bring a small, waterproof blanket/towel for the dog to sit/rest on.

This is something I didn’t even think about until I read some articles online. It makes sense. When stopping for a break, it’s a good idea to have one so the dog doesn’t have to sit in the snow and they get a break that isn’t freezing cold. DUH. I’d tell her to sit and she looked so miserable. I get it Bella, sorry!! Parent fail.

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Stay on trail.

This is something I just do anyways. Dog or no, I am not into back-country snowshoeing or hiking off trail. It’s just not a good idea. Unless you are a seasoned hiker with maps and GPS and survival skills, it’s a bad idea and you’ll most likely end up on the news. 😛 So be smart, stay on the trail and keep your dog safe by doing this too!

In the same vein….Keep dog on the leash. You never know what dangers are out there. Other animals, wild animals, cliffs, lakes partially iced over, snow banks, TREE WELLS!!–a million dangers are out there. It’s just wise to keep the dog on the leash at all times while hiking/snowshoeing.

What are some of your go-to tips you have regarding hiking/snowshoeing with your dogs?

Thelma & Louise & Bella

Michael was off in Seattle doing boy things and so Bell and I were flying solo for a little girl’s weekend. On Saturday I had plans to go for a mini road trip and picnic lunch with my friend Erika.

But first, I went to the gym for a quickie weight workout. Erika and I weren’t planning on doing any hiking or anything and I wanted to get something in for the day. Afterward, I cleaned up and got everything ready for the picnic and then Erika arrived.

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When we discussed getting together for the day we talked about a few options. The first was doing the Fruit Loop in Hood River. It’s a bunch of country stores, fruit stands and farms in Hood River. Michael and I did part of it a few years ago and I really liked the idea of checking it out again but thankfully Erika checked it out online and saw that they don’t want dogs to visit (since a lot of them have farms with animals). Good to know! So Erika suggested we check out Lost Lake.

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I’d heard of Lost Lake but didn’t know anything about it and hadn’t been before (Erika camped there as a kid). We picked up lunch from a grocery store deli (I got Broccoli Salad, Potato Salad and some Goldfish crackers, Erika got a sandwich) and hit the road! It was a really nice drive out to Hood River. It’s such a gorgeous, picturesque area of Oregon.

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We drove past all my favorite wineries and were surrounded by several mountains. The sun was out, it was warm but not uncomfortably hot and we had the windows down and the music up.

The road to Lost Lake was off the Fruit Loop through the forest, some clear-cutting (sad) and the road was windy and climbed up quite a bit. The drive was just under 2 hours from my place and in a very remote and romantic neck of the woods. We got to the campground and it took awhile to get a parking spot. They had a lot of people directing traffic and trying to help people find places to park. It was a popular place!

We finally found a spot and then grabbed the cooler and walked down to the lake to have a picnic. There were day use areas but since we’d gotten there so late in the day it was pretty crowded already. We walked along the shore and found a little spot to have our lunch and listened to the water lapping on the shore.

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After lunch we decided to walk around the lake. According to the website it was only 3 miles around the whole thing and very easy. We walked back to the car to drop off the cooler and kind of got a little teeny bit lost. LOL So we ended up walking around the camping loops of the park for awhile before we finally got back to the car! Oh well. We took the scenic route.

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We grabbed our backpacks with water and then set out to walk the trail around the lake. According to the website, the Lakeshore Trail was 3.2 miles (it turned out to be a lot longer!). I was just about to comment that it was odd we hadn’t seen the mountain at the Lake when we turned a corner and saw this:

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Gorgeous! It looks like a postcard.

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The lake had a ton of kayakers and swimmers and there were families fishing. Lots of kids were playing near the dock and families were having BBQ’s. It was cool how many little nooks of picnic areas there were along the shore, hidden in the trees. I think the secret is to get there early in the day and grab one of those great little picnic spots and just spend the whole day!

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The trail was so nice! It was VERY easy. Flat and sometimes there was a boardwalk and there were parts of the lake that were completely secluded.

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Bella was doing a great job. It was pretty crowded and there were lots of dogs on the trail but she never barked once. She was loving the woods and the trail. It was such a nice and peaceful walk along the lake. Sometimes you couldn’t see the lake but then you’d turn the corner and it would be a breathtaking view.

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We got to the other side of the lake and found a little dock that was empty. We decided to sit down and relax for a little bit. Erika had some chocolate chip cookies and we lounged in the sunshine having a snack and enjoying the view.

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It was the perfect day and a great view! I commented that we needed hammocks. Next time bringing a camping chair and a book and spending some time next to the lake! After the break we continued up the trail a little bit and then got back to the parking lot.

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Like I said, it was a little bit longer of a walk than the website said, about 4 miles. But it was a very easy 4 miles. I was actually kind of surprised at how many calories I burned on our walk considering my heart rate never got over 110 during the whole walk.

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What a great way to spend the afternoon! We headed back towards Portland and made a quick stop at a fruit stand to get some fresh fruit. Erika got some blueberries and I got cherries and raspberries.

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It was a bit of a slow drive back into town but so pretty it was hard to feel impatient. When I got home I made a veggie burger and some steamed broccoli for dinner (and might have eaten all of those raspberries while I cooked) and relaxed with some Netflix while I ate. Bella was zonked out on the couch.

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I finished watching “Bloodlines” on Netflix. It’s a really good show. It’s a little slow to start. I know a few people who say they tried to watch it and gave up but give it a few episodes. By episode 3 or 4 I was hooked. Episode 11-13 was super good! On the edge of your seat good. I hope they make a second season. Then I started watching “Royal Pains” on Netflix. Totally a guilty pleasure show. It’s goofy and trashy but kind of entertaining. 🙂

It was a fabulous weekend! Finished up with a run on Sunday, lots of yard work and playing with Bella in the sunshine.