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#103220 - 09/16/08 12:20 PM Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
So, looking forward to winter, I want to be able to take my dogs with me on at least some hikes, and possibly actual camping. I live about 10 minutes from the mouth of a canyon that is closed all winter to car traffic. The bottom mouth of the canyon is at 5000 ft, and goes up (of course) to around 15000, I think. Anyways, last February I got me some pups, and they love to run around in the woods. One is a border collie, and the other a lab mix with short hair. What are some considerations I need to take into account to take these two buddies of mine with me?
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#103221 - 09/16/08 01:29 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: finallyME]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
For the record, the highest point in Utah is about 13,500 feet.

The main problem with dogs in cold weather & snow is keeping them warm and protecting their feet. I have no personal experience with dog boots, but I have read that they can cause more problems than they cure. Like with people, they need to fit well or there will be sores. I have a fleece vest for my dog, which he wears well. But it isn't that much protection. I also have a sleeping bag and pad for him, but I doubt it would be good much below freezing.

I would suggest starting with short dayhikes in good weather and work up from there. Maybe do an overnighter where you have the option of bailing out if problems arise.

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#103222 - 09/16/08 02:15 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: Paddy_Crow]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I looked at a USGS of the mountains next to my house. The highest peak is 9300 ft, and another one is 9200 ft. I stand corrected Paddy. To add to this, I doubt I will go above 7800 ft. Thanks for the dog advice. As a new dog owner, I am learning a lot, but still have much to learn. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#103223 - 09/16/08 02:58 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: finallyME]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Club Tread has a dog forum. VFTT (Views from the Top) has dog threads every now and then and even Telemark Tips has dog posts. Some of them I've seen relate to training your dog and caring for it while hiking in winter.
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#103224 - 09/16/08 03:51 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: finallyME]
OttoStover Offline
member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 62
Loc: Norway
As an owner of one Border Collie today, and having had two Siberian Huskies in the past, I may have some tips for you.

First, the dogs are far too young to use in pulling sledge or carrying backpack. Wait until they are two years at least for pulling, two-and-a-half for carrying. Until that, let them play and have fun.

My BC is big and has long fur. The only winter problem is that the hairs under the feet (between the toes) on -4c and newly fallen snow will turn into ice lumps. The best way to remedy this is a round with the haircutter. I cut the hairs before long trips as a general rule. The SH's never had this problem. Some use oily lotions, but I've not found them as useful.

My BC never minds -20c as long as it does not blow too much. But he is used to stay outside much. For short haired brands you must pay attention to keeping them warm. A good mat and a cover will suffice. Some have warm coats for their dogs, and it might be a good idea at night at least. Usually even short haired brands are so active that they do not freeze as long as they are running.

Some dogs get sore feet, especially on ice-crusty snow. To prevent this the only way is training and running so the feets are strong. To cure it if it happens, take some dog socks with you on the trip. I do that, but up till now I've never used this. You may see some pictures of my dog in winter conditions in this forum in the tread Far North witer trip report. Correcton, I just saw that you've read it.

/Otto


Edited by OttoStover (09/16/08 03:59 PM)

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#103225 - 09/17/08 04:48 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: OttoStover]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I have taken my dogs in the past on numerous winter trips. My last dog, a Yellow Lab X, did very well out there. Most trips with a dog were via snowmobile until we reached our destination, where he was allowed to roam on National Forest land. I had to bring a pad for him, but had none, so, from my job, I started bringing some beer flats for his pad, as that was all I had for him. It helped quite a bit, but in the mornings, I could barely see where I slept, but could see the melted snow where he slept due to poor insulation under him. He was an outside dog, so he was conditioned already. If I felt him shivering, I would place my jacket over him at night. During the day, he was fine, just lay about on the snow with no concern in the world. I lost him five years ago, so now, I go by myself and on some trips with a group by snowshoe. The snowmobile got us into higher country and away from most people. My lab x, was on at least one trip where it dipped below zero at night, he was fine, just lay in the snow during the remaining sunlight before going in the tent to lay down after dinner.

I observed bloody footprints at times, but then he had that at home too from short hikes in the winter. All I could do was check him out and go back when I saw it. My dogs would lick their feet if needed to remove any ice, that would happen even, just around my house or in the pen.

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#103226 - 09/18/08 02:44 AM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: hikerduane]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Labs may look as though they have short hair, but they have this thick undercoat which keeps them warm. They were, after all, bred to go into water at below-freezing temps to retrieve ducks.

However, any dog kept indoors will suffer outdoors or in the tent at night. A sleeping pad (any piece of closed cell foam will do) and a doggie jacket of some sort are good ideas if you're out in below-freezing temperatures.

As one who has no luck whatsoever keeping dog boots on the dog, I have read that keeping the long hair between the pads clipped short and using vaseline on the pads helps. I haven't been out in the winter enough to test these ideas. Do keep the dog in good condition by daily walks that are long enough to keep hi--and you-- toughened up and in good shape!
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#103227 - 09/21/08 02:09 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: OregonMouse]
OttoStover Offline
member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 62
Loc: Norway
Quote:
water at below-freezing temps


Is'nt that called solid ice <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Sorry, I could not resist it, think I know what you mean though.

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#103228 - 09/21/08 06:31 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: OttoStover]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
You're right, the water itself would be above freezing, probably with ice around the edges. The air, though, would be colder.
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#103229 - 09/22/08 06:41 AM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: OregonMouse]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Thanks for all the great advice. Otto mentioned that my dogs are too young to pull a sled or carry a pack. I agree. But, when should I put an empty sled or pack on them to get them used to having something on them?
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#103230 - 09/22/08 06:21 PM Re: Dogs and hiking/camping in the snow [Re: finallyME]
OttoStover Offline
member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 62
Loc: Norway
No problem to put on an empty backpack. Try connecting the backpack to longer trips, not just a walk around the block.

For pulling pulks, you may start with empty pulks at the age of 1. They are too playful before that, but then you may begin to introduce some tasks to them.

When starting to use the pulk, make sure you are on an empty field. Trees will make a mess and may discourage them. It will take some time before they understand the principle. Never use just a rope between the dog and a pulk, unless it is a pulk with a brake. (Eskimo type) Use fixed poles, then it will be OK. Be patient, for there will be a lot of stops and harness tangle and so on.

But personally I would not let them do any pulling until the age of 1,5. That is because of the harness fitting. The dogs are growing until the age of two, not so much in length and height, but in chest and mucles. The harness we use here is the web type, and it must fit quite good, otherwise it will chafe. Both too big or too small will make the harness chafe. Always check for this in the beginning. The pictures from my trip gives you an idea of the harness.

Another activity is just a rope from the harness to a person. Do NOT use an elastic band at the start. We call it rope-pulling (snøre-kjøring) and it will be very fun if you have kids that are old enough to walk/run with the dog. Here also start on an open treeless field!

Elastic ropes are not much used here. If it is used, the elastic part is very short (2 feet). It is very tiring for the dog if there is a long elastic rope. The pull never stops, and this may wear them out.


Edited by OttoStover (09/22/08 08:37 PM)

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