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winterhiking / -camping with a dog


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Last 2 winters we, my girlfriend and I, have spend several weeks in the mountains.

During the day we did some distance by snowshooing. the nights we spend in a tent.

Temperatures dropped to about -12°C inside the tent.

This winter, we would like to do the same.

Hence we have a 2 year old dog (beauceron) now, we're looking for advice on how to get into such an adventure.

Do we need any special equipement for the dog, how can we keep the dog warm enough during the nights, how much should we increase his daily ration of food, etc.

I hope some of you have experience with these kinds of camping trips and I'm looking forward to get interesting suggestions.



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Hi Luk!

Wintercamping with a relatively short-haired dog is not a problem if you take some precautions. I have braugth my boxer on a few winter trips with great success - because of correct equipment. There are a few things to have in mind:

Temperature. I do not have first hand experience with the beauceron, but i can read that it does have a double coated fur. However, it is not polar, and the dog is not acclimatized to the cold weather. As long as you are moving the temperature itself will not be an issue. My boxer (with short single coated fur) can easily coap with 10-15 minus as long as it is moving. During lunch breaks we have to put a coat on him or put him in a doggie sleeping bag. At night we use the doggie sleeping bag (it is called "jægeres hvilepose" and is the variant with insulation).

Wind. Even though the dog can tolarate low temperatures when moving, you should pay attention to wind in combination with low temperatures. Remember that the testicles are often poorly furred, and therefor extra vounrable to wind and frostbite. We have had one bad experience with this, resulting in first degree frostbite on the dogs testicles. This is fairly normal for hunting dogs in norway, but very unnecessary. I know that it is possible to order a warmer for the "jewels", and a tight body suit with a testicle warmer sewn on, but i have never tried one. If it is too much wind, i keep the dog in the tent.

Icy snow can be tough on the paws. I recomend using snow socks on the paws for protection. These are relatively cheap, and it would be wise to bring one or two extra, as they can fall off during a hole days work.

Food/water: The dog uses more energy than ordinary because of increased activity and lower temperatures. I usually give the dog twice the energy it gets on a low activity day in warm climate. Remember to give the dog plenty of water, because it looses much water while breathing the dry, cold air. A tip for tricking the dog into drinking more is to soak the food and/or put some liver patè in the water to make it taste good.

Hope you have a nice trip!





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Hi Luk.

I've been hiking with my dog all seasons over 8 years, both summer and winter.

Hiking during winter-time needs you to take several precautions to make it both safe and as pleasant as possible for the dog.

Before I go further into what you need to keep in mind, I just want to remind/enlighten you that there are certain restrictions for bringing dogs from the EU into Norway. If you're not familiar with these restrictions the Norwegian Embassy in the Netherlands, amongst others, may help you.

So, to the subject of your question:

The fur between your dogs paws ougth to be cut as short as possible to prevent snow gathering and become lumbs of ice. If not done, the paws will for sure get sore.

Based on just what I think, I would believe that your beauceron has not sufficiant underfur for sleeping outdoors (it sleeps inside every night?).

Therefore I would recommend you to buy a cover, like this or similar:


to keep your dog warn during stops during the day and to use for the night.

A sleeping-bag, like this:


is a great investment too. This certain bag I've used for years for my dog, she was so happy every time I packed it out. It also has a pocket underneath to put in an insulation-mat.

These two links are just excamples, there is several great producers of similar products.

I will also recommend you to buy some paw-socks if the dog gets sore paws because of icey snow-conditions, cuts or some other reason.

A ointment that contains alot of fat and relieving substances is also important. Besides being cold, the snow-crystals may be sharp and make the paws sore. These might be made of cordura-nylon or neopren.

As far as feeding goes I would be aware of giving the dog enough water during the day. Going through the snow is more tiresome for the dog. I often warm up water and put some meat broth in the water to give to the dog when we arrive to our chosen camp-site.

I hope this was of some help for you Luk.

I've also taken the liberty of sending you an PM, please feel free to respond.

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I agree with both the comments above - we`ve brought out Rhodesian Ridgeback on a week long skiing trip last winter and it all went well even it was down to -25 degrees C at night.

We also use coats on the dog when we rest and have a Kathadin coath(looks like a tight alpine suit- only for dogs) on if its windy.

The sleeping bags for dogs is excellent - I couldn`t believe how warm it was inside it when I put my hand in there to check one morning!!!

One other thing that u can do is to put socks on the paws as they do on polar sled dogs. You might have to brind some extra cause they might fall of when running.

We`ve picked ut noumerous after the Finnmark dog sled race.

You can almost bring any dog as long as you pay attention and make an effort so that the dog will be as comfortable as possible.

My Ridgeback loves beeing out in the winter - but ofcourse it will never be a polar dog by no means...

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Thanks for al these reactions.

I guess we first have to look for the right equipment (like sleepingbag, cover, ...)

Even is the dog sleeps outside, it seldon gets under freezing point here in Belgium where I live. So going on a winterhike somewhere where temperatures drop till -15 and colder at night will be a large difference for te dog.



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  • 11 months later...

I have a large version of Jervehiet. Its a sleeping bag/resting area for dogs. On the outside its a cover that is wind and waterproof. On the inside its a fibercoating for heat/isolation, and the "floor" has a mat to isolate against the ground. The outside fabric has another great quality besides wind/waterproof - it reflects the heat of whats inside - so when a dog is laying there the bag is reflecting its own body heat. Like an ozon layer.

Used this on my boarder collie this winter in -14 deg. C. The next morning the heat of the dog had melted a great pile beneath.

Its very clever to train with the jervehiet before a trip, so the dog has gotten used to it. I had to struggle a bit with the dog on our trip - but he had a lot of fur anyways so dont think he would have suffered much without it.

If you get help of someone knowing norwegian, check out www.jerven.no

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