7 Essentials for Winter Hiking with your Dog

7 Essentials for Winter Hiking with your Dog

Posted by Catherine Stewart on 26th February 2019

Editor's note: This post was originally shared in March 2017.

Hiking with your dog in the winter is rewarding and
beautiful, but certainly has its challenges. A few months ago while out with my
two dogs, one of them suffered an awful injury. I hope that by sharing this
story and additional safety tips, you will be prepared for any emergency that
may arise while hiking with your dog.

On Boxing Day, I was outside enjoying one of my favorite
trails with my dogs, Clover and Riley. Riley
was following Clover around a big fallen tree when all of a sudden, Riley
screamed out in pain. When we got to
him, his back left leg was badly injured. Luckily, I had a Buff (neck scarf) on
and was able to use it to cover the wound as a tourniquet. Something sharp in the forest had severed 3
tendons, blood vessels, and some nerves in the lower part of Riley’s leg. Ouch!

We were quite a distance from the car, and with Riley unable
to walk, my husband decided to carry Riley out of the forest. With the car was finally in sight, I suddenly
heard my husband scream out in pain. He
had slipped on a tree root and tore the meniscus in his right knee. So, both he and Riley were now down on the
ground and unable to walk. Fortunately, about
two minutes later, three mountain bikers showed up. They immediately jumped off their bikes, and
one carried Riley to the car while the other two helped my husband to the
car. The rest of the day and evening
were spent at animal emergency getting Riley stitched up; my husband had
surgery two weeks later. Both are now working on their physical rehab together
and are en route to recovery.

This situation made me think about safety and must-haves
when hiking with your dogs, especially in colder months.

Winter Hiking
Must-Haves:

Dog Coat – Many
dogs have long fur, but some do not. The Loft Coat was a savior
during this emergency, since it kept my dog warm while he was laying in the snow
and coping with his injury.

HarnessDog harnesses
are a safer option than collars when hiking.
Any type of equipment can get caught in a branch or something in the
woods, but it is better to have it caught on a harness than pulling on your dog’s
neck from a collar.

Longline – If your
dog doesn’t have a reliable recall, or if he likes to chase wildlife, hiking
with a longline is a good idea. It allows
your dog some freedom to explore and sniff, while at the same time keeping him
close and safe.

Scarf or Bandana
– It is important to have something with you that can be used as a tourniquet
in case of injury. This can be life
saving when your dog is bleeding.

First Aid
Taking a canine first aid course is a great idea for all dog guardians. You can go to a live course or learn online
at a site like www.dogsafe.ca, or shop Kurgo’s pet first aid kit.

Blankets – Having
a blanket in your car is important for keeping your dog warm and out of shock
in case of accident/injury.

Emergency Numbers
– Be sure to program your cell phone with the nearest vet office and emergency
vet hospital for holidays and after hours.


Catherine Stewart is a Certified Tellington TTouch Practitioner and Positive Reinforcement Trainer. She works with dogs from both Washington and British Columbia at her "Doggies in Paradise" facility by the sea. Catherine loves to go on adventures in the forest and the beach with her two dogs Riley and Clover. She also spends time exploring with her two Icelandic horses, Benni and Helgi. Learn more about Doggies in Paradise at http://www.doggiesinparadise.com/

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