Activities For Dogs In Montana On Cold Days

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Introduction

Montana winters are long, dark, and frigid. Luckily, they are also filled with plentiful snow and sunny days. Montana natives and their pooches are a hearty breed, so if you live here or are visiting, rest assured there are plenty of activities for dogs in Montana on cold days to keep you busy, happy, and tired. With a little preparation and attention to the weather, you and your dog will have just as many options to explore the beautiful, mountainous state as you do in the summer. If you're in Montana in the winter, don't let the weather get you down.

Cross-country Skiing

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Cold Day
Cheap
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Cross-country skies, boots, and poles
Dog booties or musher's wax
Dog coat
Activity description
Montana is the place to go for pristine snow and breathtaking winter views. One of the best ways to get outside and enjoy this stunning landscape with your dog is to head out and explore on cross-country skis. sliding along on skiing skis is one of the favorite activities for dogs in Montana on cold days. There is nothing better for a dog than trotting through the powder and chasing snowballs in the winter. Because Montana is a dog-friendly state, there are many trails that welcome pups and you'll be in good company as other skiers glide along with their own powder hounds.
Step
1
Get outfitted
The first thing you'll need to do is get properly fitting gear. Many outdoor stores or nordic centers will rent you setup if you want to try it out. Make sure you dress in layers as you'll get hot as soon as you start moving. Once you have your gear, it's time to focus on your dog. You won't need much, but if your pooch doesn't have a lot of fur, you should get them a coat. It's also a good idea to get some booties or musher's wax to keep snow from balling in their paws.
Step
2
Find a trail
The next step is to find the perfect trail for you and your dog to head out on skis. Many cross-country ski areas in Montana have special loops groomed for dogs and are happy to show you where to go. These trails are usually perfect for every level of skier. Montana is also home to wide swaths of public lands with excellent ski trails. You can check a map, talk to your local outdoor store, or read a guidebook for ski trails near you.
Step
3
Enjoy your ski
Now it's time to strap on your skis and start gliding through the snow with your dog. Take some photos as they roll around and prance in the snow, throw some snowballs for them to catch, and take in the beautiful scenery together. Heading out for an hour-long ski will undoubtedly be enough to tire out even the most excited pooch. Even on cold days, cross-country skiing will keep you warm enough to enjoy the outdoors in Montana.
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Skijoring

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Cold Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Cross-country ski set up
Special skijoring harnesses and lead
Boots to protect your dog's feet
Activity description
If you have a dog who's always on the go and loves nothing more than running through the snow, skijoring might be the sport for you. Skijoring combines dogsledding and cross-country skiing. Your dog wears a special harness with a long leash that attaches to you and pulls you along the trail on skis. This is one of the most popular activities for dogs in Montana on cold days. Skijoring does take some training and getting used to for you and your dog. Some breeds are naturally good at pulling a human on skis while others might be happier trotting along behind.
Step
1
Introduction to skijoring
You will need to introduce your dog to the harness and the idea of skijoring before you're ready to head out for the first time. Make sure you purchase a harness specially made for sled or skijoring dogs. Be sure to buy a properly fitting harness for yourself too. The lead that attaches you to your dog should be extended and have a quick release close to where it connects to you. Take your dog out for a ski while wearing the harness before you attach it to yourself, so the dog has a chance to get used to it.
Step
2
Easy ski
When your dog is comfortable with the harness, you can attach it to yourself for the first time. Train your dog in short bursts and let them get the feel of pulling you forward. It will be strange for them to keep going while feeling your weight behind them. You can ask a friend to ski next to your dog or just in front and encourage them to pull you along. Ski along with your dog to help provide forward momentum.
Step
3
Skijor down the trail
When your dog is beginning to figure out the harness and pulling you, you can begin teaching them popular skijoring commands like "hike" to go forward and "Woah" to slow down or stop. Soon your dog will figure out a rhythm for running with a harness, and you'll enjoy cruising down the trail with your "dog-power" engine. It's no wonder skijoring is a favorite activity for dogs in Montana.
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Winter Hiking

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Cold Day
Free
Normal
2 hrs
Items needed
Warm hiking clothing and layers
Hiking boots
Yaktraks or Micro spikes
Doggy Winter boots or musher's wax
Activity description
Winter weather really changes the landscape and can create an entirely different feel on your favorite summer hiking trails. Low sunlight, frost in the air, and a layer of fluffy snow can transform any green summer trail into a magical winter snowglobe. Just because there is snow on the ground doesn't mean you have to abandon your favorite dog hiking trails. Winter hiking is a popular activity for dogs in Montana on cold days. All you need is a little preparation and you'll be enjoying a hike with your dog from a totally different vantage point, and your dog will enjoying a wonderful walk through the snow.
Step
1
Get outfitted
Winter hiking requires a little more equipment and preparation than summer hiking. Along with warm clothing layers, you'll need warmer or heavier hiking boots. Some winter boots can be bulky and uncomfortable, so get hiking boots designed for the winter. You will also want to pick up a pair of Yaktracks or Microspikes to give your shoes more traction on the ice and snow. Walking with hiking or ski poles will provide you with added stability on ice and snow. Pick up some dog booties or musher's wax for your pup to keep their paws free and clear of snow.
Step
2
Choose the right trail
Not all summer hiking trails are suitable for casual winter hiking. Look for an easier trail that doesn't require technical hiking. In Montana, many easier hikes lead to frozen lakes or waterfalls and don't need technical ice climbing skills in the winter. You also want to stay away from trails that cut through steep slopes in case of avalanche danger. Your local outdoor store can offer suggestions of places to go.
Step
3
Take a (winter) hike
When you have all your gear together and you know where you're going, put on your shoes and Yaktracks and head out on the trail. You might notice fewer people around you than the summer, and you'll feel a comradery with the other intrepid winter hikers that you pass on the trail. Your dog will find excitement in following the tracks of rabbits, squirrels and other woodland creatures in the snow. Remember that you expend more energy hiking in the winter, so don't be afraid to cut the hike short and head back for a warm hot chocolate and a sweet treat.
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More Fun Ideas...

Snowshoeing

If skiing isn't on your list of fun things to try in Montana, why not take your dog snowshoeing. The specially designed shoes will keep you above the snowpack and your dog will love to play in the snow.

Snowball fight

In Montana, the snow is abundant in the winter and can be perfect for having a snowball "fight" with your dog. Make a snowball and toss it to your dog high in the air. Watch them jump for joy to catch the cold treat.

Conclusion

Don't let the frigid weather of Montana scare you from getting outside and playing with your dog. All you need to do is bundle up and you won't even notice the cold. If your dog is as much of a snow-lover as you, trying out any one of these activities for dogs in Montana on cold days will create a memorable experience or even a new frosty routine for you and your best bud. Montana is the perfect place for active dogs all year round, and many dogs even seem to prefer the snow to warm weather. When you get creative you can find the perfect activity no matter what the weather looks like outside.