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Preparing your dog for ski touring

As ski enthusiasts gear up for the thrill of ski season, many dog owners are eager to include their furry companions in their snowy escapades! Ski touring with your dog can be a rewarding experience, providing both exercise and a chance to strengthen your bond with your four-legged friend. Not sure of ski touring is right for your pup? Check out our last article about the pros and cons of ski touring with your dog. Before you head to the mountains, it’s crucial to ensure that your dog is adequately prepared for the adventure, both from a physical standpoint and a training standpoint.

Physical Conditioning

Just like humans, dogs need to be in good physical shape for any outdoor activity, and ski touring is no exception. Before going on your ski adventure, consider the following:

  1. Building endurance: Gradually increase your dog’s endurance through regular walks, runs, and hikes. Whatever distance you’re aiming to do on a ski tour, your dog should be able to comfortably hike, if not run (with breaks) it. Exercise like this will help strengthen their muscles and joints, preparing them for the challenges of skiing on varied terrains.

  2. Getting used to winter conditions: Acclimating your dog to the cold is essential. Monitor their temperature tolerance and pay attention to your dog’s behavior in cold conditions. Some breeds tolerate cold better than others, so adjust the length of your ski tours accordingly. Take note if your dog needs extra paw protection (such as booties or paw balm) or additional layers (such as a light or heavy jacket).

Once you have decided if your dog can join you on your adventure and what they need, it’s also incredibly important to consider both the advantages and drawbacks before heading out into the snow.


In addition to physical conditioning, your dog will also need to have some training before going skiing. This might include:

  1. Basic obedience: This includes sit, stay, and recall. Maybe you need to let other people, bikes, or snowmobiles pass. Your dog should be able to execute these cues promptly, especially when navigating an extremely stimulating environment.

  2. Reliable recall: This one is VERY important, especially if your dog will be off leash! Whether it’s passing skiers, other dogs, or snowmobiles, your dog must be able to come back to you when called. Spending time reinforcing recall will keep your dog safe during ski tours.

  3. Familiarity with ski equipment: Make sure your dog is comfortable with your skis/poles/board and is okay walking/running next to you but knows not to run into you or across your path! The edge of skis and boards are VERY sharp and can definitely cause some damage if your dog gets too close. Before you start downhill skiing with your dog, I highly recommend starting with a flat stretch or uphill so that they can get used to being around you on your skis.

  4. Leash manners: Depending on the trail you choose and the leash regulations, your dog may need to stay on leash but it’s still possible! Practicing proper leash manners will teach your dog not to tangle you up while you are strapped into skis and potentially moving very fast! Decide where you want them to be for both uphill and downhill portions of the ski tour (on your side vs in front of you) and make sure they understand!

By ensuring your dog is physically prepared, familiar with equipment, and accustomed to winter conditions, you set the stage for a safe and memorable adventure. Once you’ve put in the physical work and training practice, grab your gear, leash up your pup, and hit the slopes together!

Want to see more of Candy and Koda's adventures? Check them out on social media


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