The weather is beginning to warm up in Vancouver and that means you will probably want to spend more time outside with your beloved pet. However just because it’s above freezing doesn’t mean you don’t need to dress warmly or watch out for some icy patches or other dangers you need to be aware of. When you’re hiking with your dog in the winter, you need to take some extra precautions that you wouldn’t in Spring or Summer.
Dress For The Weather
The first step is to dress weather appropriately. When in doubt put on a hat or gloves and wool socks. The same philosophy should apply for your dog, especially if he or she is a short-hair breed. Winter weather is extremely bad for your dog’s paws, especially on frozen gravel, rocks, and sand. The other piece of clothing is a coat or a sweater. They are usually adjustable and come in many different sizes. While not all dogs will tolerate coat boots, most can learn to wear them with practice. These items can be expensive but they usually last a long time and are worth it to make your pet feel warm and comfortable.
Use Reflective Gear
In Winter the days are shorter and if you combine that with rain and grey skies, it can make visibility tough for passing cars. Both you and your dog should wear reflective or neon gear if you plan on going out in the morning or afternoon. Low visibility can cause trouble. You never know if your dog will take off or run across a road. Bright colours and reflective wear will prevent them from getting hit.
Bring A Safety Kit
Whenever you hike – in Summer or Winter – bring a safety kit with you. This should include a flashlight or headlamp, a compass, snacks, and an extra bottle of water. Water is essential for both you and your dog. If your dog carries a pack, he can stow his own on one side and yours on the other. If possible, try to avoid letting your dog drink from puddles. Standing water can contain a number of bacteria, parasites or algae that can make your pooch very sick. Lastly, make sure that your cellphone is fully charged before you leave. You don’t want to be in the middle of a hike and have a dead battery!
Hike A Trail You Know
This is definitely recommended in the Winter. In the Summer it’s okay to get lost because you have much more light, but in the Winter you don’t have that luxury. If you’ve never hiked an area before, Winter isn’t the time to try it out. There will be soggy areas even in maintained parks which aren’t well-maintained during the winter months. Markers might be obscured or down. Always be on the cautious side of safety and stick with trails, parks, and climbs you’re familiar with during the winter months.
If you follow these steps, then the only thing left is to have fun. Hiking with your dog in the winter can be fun and rewarding because it’s usually quiet and peaceful, especially if you enjoy the cold.