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Thread: Hiking in the winter with a Lab

  1. #31
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    YAY Boone!

    So he's a stick dog, eh? My two are the same way....I think they like hiking best for all the FREE, perfectly usable, free-for-the-taking sticks just LAYING THERE ON THE GROUND!!!
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  2. #32
    Senior Member Mongoose's Avatar
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    Boone prefers to carry huge rocks instead of sticks. I worry about the rocks wearing his teeth down. He's definitely a cold weather dog. When it's 80F out, he hides in the shade and tries not to move.

    This feels like it will be a good winter. Now that I have a new hiking partner, I have to hike more.

  3. #33
    Senior Member Ed'n Lauky's Avatar
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    This thread has been filled with good advice. Maybe it was the Greeks who gave us "Know thyself" but it's VFTT that gives us "Know thydog." It is very good advice to work up gradually. It on the one hand enables the dog to adapt and it enables the owner to know how the dog is reacting.

    Sabrina's comments on the preliminary signs of being cold were spot on. I just purchased a new soft shell jacket for Lauky. It's a classic design. A very good outer shell with a light fleece on the inside and it zips up snugly. It looks like a Northface softshell jacket. He has been using a double layer fleece jacket. Yesterday was our first time with the new jacket and I decided to go with just that to start with. Temperature was about 15*. After about two hours he started lifting a paw, dropping his tail, rubbing his face in the snow as if burrowing and sitting. I could see he was getting cold. I stopped shortly after that to change water bottles and he started to shiver. Stopping, as has been mentioned before is also hard on dogs when it's cold. I quickly took off his jacket, put on the fleece jacket then put on the soft shell. Layering can work for dogs too. We got going again and he very quickly warmed up. His tail went up, he stopped shivering and even handled a brief stop at the summit with no problem. That was just an experiment yesterday. From now on when it's in the 20s or lower we'll just go with both of the jackets on.

    Lauky's coat will continue to grow and thicken throughout the winter he handles the cold better as the winter goes on. But the key rules mentioned above are important. Work up gradually. Know your dog. Have everything you need to keep him warm. Be ready to turn back and quickly if your dog is getting cold.

    I also agree that a dog's claws are important on ice. For that reason I carry booties in case of injury but tend not to use them.

    The statement about the size of the dog is also spot on. My Airedale Duffy with the same type of coat as Lauky (Welsh Terrier) never got cold, but he was three times as big. He also had more difficulty hiking in hot weather than Lauky.

    Be sensitive to your dog's needs. Remember he'll follow you anywhere so be ready to lead him back to the car if necessary. And happy hiking.

    PS Handle that name Boone with care...It's a good one.
    Last edited by Ed'n Lauky; 12-31-2011 at 10:39 AM.
    I used to look at my dog and think 'If you were a little smarter you could tell me what your were thinking', and he'd look at me like he was saying 'If you were a little smarter I wouldn't have to'. Fred Jungclaus

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  4. #34
    Senior Member --M.'s Avatar
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    Congratulations, great stuff!

  5. #35
    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by una_dogger View Post
    YAY Boone!

    So he's a stick dog, eh? My two are the same way....I think they like hiking best for all the FREE, perfectly usable, free-for-the-taking sticks just LAYING THERE ON THE GROUND!!!
    The best part is when you have two stick dogs hiking together. Literally billions of sticks available through the National Forest but the dogs need to have the *same* stick.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

  6. #36
    Senior Member TrishandAlex's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Mongoose;364842]Boone and I did our hike up Liberty and Flume. It was around 20F most of the day which clearly didn't bother him. The two bottles of hot cocoa in his pack didn't slow him down either.
    [QUOTE]

    Congratulations! Great photo -- Max (my border terrier) loves to grab sticks wherever he can find them...he's so tiny, most of the sticks he grabs are three times his size. Doesn't stop him from trying to drag them along, though.

    Have fun with your dog -- happy trails.
    [B][SIZE=3]Patricia Ellis Herr (TRISH...ALEX...SAGE)


    Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it. --Chinese proverb.

    For more info about The Terrifying 25, contact me at patriciaellisherr@hotmail.com or search for The Terrifying 25 on Facebook.

  7. #37
    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    I wish I could offload some of Bookah's water that I carry for her, and some extras in a dog pack. No can do - not so long as she loves getting on her back and rolling in 'stuff'.
    It would be an interesting cleaning job when we got home.
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
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    in this life has not escaped me." Jim Harrison

  8. #38
    Senior Member DaveSunRa's Avatar
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    Labs even like hanging out near the wood stove


  9. #39
    Senior Member pedxing's Avatar
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    Very useful thread. This is useful for me with my dog, and for conveying to others. A couple weeks ago, I joined some others on a bushwhack they'd planned. There were two other dogs, aside from mine and one of those dogs became hypothermic (shivering uncontrollably and unable/unwilling to keep moving). Temps were in the low 20s and there was not a lot of wind. The dog was small, but had already completed the 48 earlier in the year.

    I'm still working on learning what works best for my dog, but three things I have noted so far are:

    1) Food as stated is important, but I find that just having regular dry dog food is not enough. I take along food my dog loves. Some dogs, including mine, will not feel very hungry on hikes and will not eat her regular food early in the morning. I give Loki canned food she loves before hitting the trail and bring lots of dog biscuits and other food she loves to keep her caloric intake up during the hike. The dog who became hypothermic was not eating, but eagerly ate some of the dog biscuits I offered when I saw he was in a bad way (this seemed to help, although bundling him up and carrying him for a while with some chemical hand warmers placed with some care were probably the keys).

    2) Like some others, I like mushers secret for conditioning my dog's paws and will use it the day before the hike as well as the morning of the hike. I will also add a gob of vaseline between Loki's pads just before we hit the trail if there is snow on the ground. This helps resist the balling of snow between the pads.

    3) I've begun to experiment with using cooking spray oil on her lower legs and feet to reduce the accumulation of ice balls, as these seem to bug her and a lot of other dogs. This seems to help.
    "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride."
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  10. #40
    Senior Member Mongoose's Avatar
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    Boone and I hiked the Hancocks today. Another successful adventure. Boone gets really tired after a hike which is odd. I do 10-15 mile rides on my mountain bike with him running behind me and that doesn't exhaust him as much as a 10 mile hike in the winter. I'm guessing the cold is causing him to burn more calories? I feed him extra kibble before the hike and a small bowl in the middle. Maybe he needs some kind of higher calorie food for winter?


  11. #41
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    Power snacks like mozzarella cheese sticks, dried beef or lamb lung or jerky on hikes fed every hour

    Consider adding 2 ounces of raw liver to his food at least three times a week

    A raw egg or two each week for b vitamins

    We could discuss raw diets by pm if you are interested

    He is working different muscles than when biking and he has done 2 big hikes in the past ten days, yes? Maybe too much too soon for him?

    I know a few stretches that I use in my dogs that help, I will get hubby to help me make a video or will find a you tube link
    ADK 46'r NE115'r NEHH NH 48 x 6 NH48W NH 331/576
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  12. #42
    Senior Member Mongoose's Avatar
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    He did do another 10 mile hike a few days previously. He's done 15-20 mile hikes in the summer with no problem though. I'll feed him more and see how he does. From what I've read dogs get more of their energy from protein unlike humans which needs carbs. Maybe some peanut butter would be good.

  13. #43
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    Dogs don't need carbs :-)

    (rather they derive them by glucogenesis of proteins)

    There are many grain free commercial dog foods available, Orijen and Acana are my two favorites.

    My dogs eat only raw, fresh meat, bone, eggs, fish and fish oils - just like nature intended ;/)..but I digress...:-)
    Last edited by una_dogger; 01-03-2012 at 02:29 PM.
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  14. #44
    Junior Member whichway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by una_dogger View Post
    Subtle signs of being cold are tiptoeing, lifting a front paw (submissive gesture), a hunched back, a tail between the legs to conserve heat, moving behind a tree or other windblock, circling and digging in the snow (nesting); more obvious signs are shivering.
    Delilah sometimes exhibits some of these behaviors, particularly nesting. I know she's keeping cool when she does it in the summer, but never thought much about it in the winter. Good to know. I'm still learning...
    I've avoided buying her a coat so far, but perhaps there's something inexpensive she can hike in from the start without overheating? Recommendations?


    Quote Originally Posted by chipc View Post
    make sure your dog drinks during the hike. With many water sources covered or frozen I bring extra water just for the dogs and make sure they drink some when I do.
    Agreed. Delilah will eat anything I put in front of her and is happy with plain kibble snacks, but she doesn't seem to drink much in the winter unless we find a stream. She often ignores a bowl of water given to her so I rely on a tip found on (this?) forum. I pack a ~16-20 oz bottle of broth for her, made with either drippings from our most recent oven-meat meal or a small bit of chopped meat (cold-cuts work in a pinch). Stuff it in the bottle, shake, and viola! Well-hydrated dog.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
    We use this waxy stuff called "Mushers Secret", rub it into her pads and between the toes (a little goes a long way).
    Musher's Secret is great, though I use quite a bit more than "a little" and recommend that the folks for whom it doesn't work well try using a bit more. I put it on Delilah's paw pads and work it in between the toes and it also goes on her back feet(?) between the pad and the first leg joint.

    Last couple of comments
    - The more you hike w Boone, the more familiar you'll be with what's 'normal' for him and it'll become easier to know when he's uncomfortable.
    - As said above, keep him moving. If you need to stop for more than a few minutes, throw a stick/chase him around.
    - As he ages, his needs will change. He may become more susceptible to cold and fatigue, perhaps partly because at a young age he'll keep himself in motion when you stop b/c 'staying still = boring'. Delilah, at 4yo, is not the near-invincible pup she was at 1.5yrs. She never seemed cold until last year.

    Finally, if you & Boone are interested in hiking with another human-dog pair, Delilah (a lab/golden mix) and I would be happy to oblige.

  15. #45
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mongoose View Post
    I'm guessing the cold is causing him to burn more calories? I feed him extra kibble before the hike and a small bowl in the middle. Maybe he needs some kind of higher calorie food for winter?
    Consider a dog food that is available in different energy levels, ranging from 10-15% fat and protein for less active times, up to 30% for extreme cold and high activity. The high-test food helps dogs maintain weight and energy without having to increase the volume of food.

    BTW, love the picture on Hancock!

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