One of the most enjoyable things about our long Nova Scotia winters is watching the snow fall from the comfort of our homes preferably in front of a crackling fire. But before you get too comfy and settle in for a long winter of hibernation, Koko and I have a few good reasons why we all should embrace winter, throw on our boots, and head out for a snow covered hike.
- Our winters are far too long to spend away from nature and all of the physical and mental benefits it has to offer.
- You’ll burn lots of calories and can reward yourself guilt-free with your favourite hot sugary beverage.
- It is beautiful. The sun is lower in the sky and when it glistens off the snow, it is breathtaking.
- It is the one season the trails are completely bug free!
- Our dogs love it.
Before you hit the trails though, we have five tips to ensure you and your pooch have a safe and enjoyable hike. Please remember to always consider your dog’s age and heath when taking part in any physical activity.
1) Find a dog friendly trail – Always go where dogs are welcome. Look for trails where people have cross country skied and beaten down the trail, so your dog isn’t sinking chest deep in the white stuff. Until you are familiar with the terrain, keep your dog on a leash. Partially frozen lakes, icy trails and deep snow are all potentially hidden dangers in winter months.
2) Shorten your hike – Because your dog is working harder and burning more calories when moving through snow, consider shortening the duration of your hikes. Throughout the winter, they can build endurance and work up to longer treks.
3) Take frequent breaks – Most dogs don’t know when they’re getting too much of a good thing, so take frequent breaks and allow them to catch their breath. It’s also a perfect time to check for snow build up between their toes and re-hydrate them with a drink of water.
4) Gear up – Many dog breeds are well equipped to handle cold Canadian winters and have incredibly efficient built-in paw warmers that keep their toes toasty. Other dogs with thinner and shorter coats may need a bit of help. Investing in a dog jacket and even booties might make your dog’s outdoor winter adventures more enjoyable and fashionable! Don’t forget to bundle yourself up, preferable in layers that you can easily shed if you get too warm. This dog walker doesn’t leave home without her “clamp-ons”, studded attachments that fit on to your boots and provide grip on icy trails. Highly recommended to prevent bruised tail bones.
5) Apres Hike – Be sure you give your dog’s paws a good cleaning after your hike, especially if you’ve traveled over salt covered ground. And finally when you’re back home, curl up with your pup for a well deserved nap.