Cool Winter Activities

WinterActivies-Header
Cool Winter Activities
Make the most of blustery weather with these three outdoor activities that will have you and your dog looking forward to winter!

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When the crisp golden weather of autumn begins to fade to white and silver, we enter the most bemoaned season: winter. With its cold temperatures and unforgiving weather, it’s easy to see why so many people dislike the final season of the year, but winter is not all doom and gloom. There is not only beauty but fun to be had in this frosty season! You and your dog needn’t hole up indoors. These three fun outdoor activities may just have you looking forward to the onset of colder weather.

Skijoring
This unique meld of cross country skiing and dog sledding allows you to take to the hills with your trusty canine by your side. Just like you, your pup needs his exercise, even in the cold, and skijoring is an excellent way for both of you to get a great cardio workout. Skijoring, originally a Norwegian sport, translates to “ski driving,” and involves a person on skis being pulled by something, whether a horse, a snowmobile, or—you guessed it—a dog. If your furry pal is strong and energetic, this might be the perfect sport for you both. Cold-weather breeds like the Alaskan Husky or Malamute particularly enjoy skijoring, but breeds such as German Shorthaired Pointers, Greyhounds, German Shepherds, and Border Collies have all been known to compete in skijoring competitions in the US. According to the American Kennel Club, skijoring organizations recommend that your dog be at least 35 pounds to safely participate in this sport. Keep in mind that the heavier the person being pulled, the stronger the dog needs to be. And of course, enjoyment depends on the individual dog—be sure to assess your dog’s energy level and willingness to participate.

What you need: snowy trails, either flat or gentle hills; a skijoring belt and gangline/tow line (this will run you somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60 at entry level); a pair of cross country skis; a dog harness designed for pulling, such as those made by Hurrta or Kruuse (make sure the harness you choose fits your pup comfortably!); warm clothes and a helmet.

Geocaching
This super-cool outdoor pastime isn’t weather dependent, but is particularly fun in the winter, exploring snowy trails with your dog by your side. All you need is your mobile phone (you can download the Geocaching app for your iPhone or Android) or a GPS receiver, such as the Garmin eTrex 10, $109. Essentially, geocaching is a kind of treasure hunt: using your GPS, you can seek out hidden containers called “geocaches” or “caches,” which are secreted at specific locations all over the world. This addictive pastime is a great way to get outside in the winter—you can go as fast or slow as you like, and you not only get to challenge your navigation skills, but you and your dog will also get to visit places you never would have before, immersing yourself in your surroundings in a way most don’t on a normal walk! Once you find the cache, sign and date the logbook, re-hide the geocache exactly how you found it, and share your experience online. Learn more at geocaching.com.

What you need: a geocaching account (you can create one for free at geocaching.com); a mobile device or GPS receiver; a logbook.

Dog Sledding
A popular sport in Northern areas of Canada and the United States, dog sledding allows you to experience the excitement of having a pack of dogs pull you across a snowy landscape. Imagine racing past frosted pine trees as exuberant sled dogs dash before you, kicking up sparkling powder into the air. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? One caveat: be sure to research the organization and make sure they’re reputable. The BC SPCA approves SnowPack Siberian Huskies & Adventures in Avola, BC (price upon request). Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours in Canmore, Alberta has a “working pet” policy (anonymous employee review: “they treat their dogs like people”) and will run you $280 for a one person, instructor-driven tour. There are also many organizations that help retired sled dogs looking for homes, like the Sled Dog Sanctuary (sleddogsanctuary.com), that you may wish to support. Just be sure to do your research before booking to make sure you’re not supporting an outfit that doesn’t treat its dogs well!

What you need: a reputable sled dog organization; warm clothes and an adventurous spirit.

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