Skitouring on four paws

My dog is small. Ioma weighs less than ten kilos, which is why many people are surprised how much she participates in my outdoor activities. She runs with me 4 or 5 times a week through the forest and up and down the mountains. She runs for several kilometres with a lot of verve in front of the bike. She even runs in front of my sledge and in winter she accompanies me on my ski tours. Of course all this requires good preparation and planning. Today I will tell you what you have to consider if you want to take your little (or bigger) dog with you on a ski tour.

Prepare yourself and know your limits

In principle, any dog can accompany you who has a certain basic fitness. It is best if you prepare together as a team all year round. Your dog should learn to walk straight in front of you. On command he should be able to stop and wait for you. This is important, because on skis (and also in summer with the bike) you are not quite as agile if your dog suddenly stops or goes off to the left or right. Ideally, your dog can accompany you without a leash, but sometimes it is useful to be able to keep him on a leash properly. In some areas leashes are compulsory, especially in the forest and of course in avalanche areas it is important to have your dog under control. You also have full control on the leash over how much energy your dog uses. This is important because there is to be enough power left for the descent.

Have the right equipment

To take your dog on a ski tour you need your own safety equipment. However, there are some additional items that you should have in your backpack: 

Vaseline protects the paws in very cold weather. It is best to apply a thick layer to all four paws before the start of the tour.

You already know the leash and harness from jogging and hiking. A good pulling harness or a safety harness offers the right control and protects your dog from incorrect pressure on any body parts.

Dog treats and an extra portion of water, because your dog wants to be rewarded during the tour (and afterwards). Just like you, he consumes extra energy. (On tour I like to take semi-moist treats with me and paste from the tube that stays warm and creamy when worn on the body, and can also be handled with gloves on).

Your dog's favourite toy is doing well, in case you wanted to take a break for playing. Almost every four-legged companion is happy about that. 

You can also add a GPS tracker to your equipment to easily find your dog, in case he gets lost.


For smaller dogs I recommend to take a big backpack with you. A cuddly blanket also belongs into your luggage here. Why? Let me explain. 


The backpack for smaller or older dogs

Ioma is fit. Like really fit. She'll put me in her pocket with no trouble at all. But a ski tour is exhausting. Even for fit dogs. That's why she doesn't do all the runs. Sometimes we go down a regular ski slope and Ioma should not run around here. Apart from the danger from other skiers, she sometimes wants to chase other people – that's why she sits in the backpack when she goes downhill. Keeping your dog on a leash is not a good solution, because you could fall very easily. Anyway, you should also ski very careful with your dog in your backpack. Please descend very slowly and controlled.

Ioma has practiced getting in and out of the backpack at home beforehand. This is very important so that your dog has a good feeling when he is transported on your back. Because it gets cold quickly in the pack, an additional blanket warms your partner during the ride.



Enjoy your ride!

If conditions allow, you can also let your dog run freely. Ioma enjoys this very much, but remember that your dog must be able to keep up. So stop in between and adjust your driving style to your four-legged companion. That's only fair!


Now enjoy your ride and send me lots of pics with your dog in the snow!

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