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The Manual: Winterize Your Dog

Learn how to prepare your dog for cold temps and tricky terrain with this guide.
winterizeyourdog_445x260Illustration by Supercorn

Seek Proper Terrain
>> Use groomed or well-traveled trails. Cross-country ski or snowshoe trails are ideal for dogs—call ahead to see if they’re allowed—because packed tracks prevent your pooch from postholing. If you’d rather hike untracked areas, reduce your expected mileage by as much as half (to account for fatigue). Breaking trail is hard for a dog; train him to follow you.
>> Avoid hiking near frozen streams and lakes. If your dog wanders on to ice less than two inches thick, he could fall through into frigid water. Attempting a rescue puts you at risk, too.
>> Stay in class II terrain. “Dogs aren’t technical climbers,” says Berger. Avoid terrain with precipitous drops or inclines, which are more treacherous when covered with ice.
>> Leash him. If your dog doesn’t heel within arms reach, keep him leashed, especially in high-traffic snowmobile and skier areas, and in avy terrain where his roaming could trigger a slide.

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