Let’s face it, we’re a nation of dog lovers. There are few more loyal than our four-legged friends, so why should they miss out when it comes to snowshoeing? Dalmatians are notoriously energetic with bucket loads of stamina, and while their coats tend to blend into the surroundings on a snowy day, they make ideal snowshoeing companions – if you can keep up with them.
Dalmatians love a challenge and have a wicked sense of humour so you’ll no doubt find your snowshoe hike very entertaining – if exhausting. They simply love walking and, let’s be honest, there are few canines who don’t relish a romp in thick snow. The one vital piece of the jigsaw is to keep your Dalmatian on a leash. Since they were originally bred to run non-stop alongside carriages, mile after mile, you’ll end up chasing him for days if he bolts. And it’s a guaranteed certainty he’ll be the winner.
For a dog – even a Dalmatian – deep snow can be somewhat demanding, so if you’re planning your first snowshoe outing, it may be best to keep the route relatively short. Even a 90-minute walk in snow can prove tiring – and the thought of carrying a full-grown and exhausted Dalmatian homewards could be a daunting one. Dalmatian’s coats though dense, are short, so keeping them warm with a well insulated coat should be high on the list. Even in the cold, they’ll need plenty of water as well, and while they might enjoy chomping away at the snow, it’s always best to carry a good supply of the real thing. Don’t forget the “doggy treats” either, very handy for training – or bribery.
There are several companies out there that stock portable equipment for that snowy hike. So whether you need a harness, leash, dog pack, boots, bowl or life jacket, you’ll find the necessary ingredients in one convenient place. One company worth checking out is Ruffwear. Their philosophy is simple: their products are designed to simply enhance the outdoor experience for both humans and canines. For more details go to www.ruffwear.co.uk.
You don’t need to have endless wilderness over your back fence to enjoy a snowshoe hike with your Dalmatian. Because they are a gregarious breed, even the shortest hike can be both beneficial and fun. They are naturally competitive and very agile so if venturing out, it’s best to check if your proposed route is “dog friendly”. We’re all judgmental when it comes to dogs and their owners, so when out and about, remember to clean up after him, and always be aware if there are young children about – Dalmatians can be an excitable breed and their swishing tail can make an unexpected weapon.
That said, there are few pastimes better than spending a day out in the snow with your loyal spotted companion. Snowshoeing is a sociable sport and Dalmatians thrive on being sociable. An ideal combination. Exercise caution and you’ll both enjoy the hike. Keep your fully charged mobile with you, and let your family know where you are going – and when returning. Remember you might know the area but it may be completely new to your dog. Snow can tend to hide familiar scents, and he might become disoriented, so be patient. Keep on the trail so neither of you become lost and watch out for wild animal tracks.
Because snowshoeing offers a great workout, variety and mental stimulation, it can be of great benefit to a naturally inquisitive dog like a Dalmatian. Their athletic build, high energy and intelligence are an ideal mix. Though they can tend towards independent thinking they are quick learners and, with the right training, will interact well in all family outdoor activity – just don’t expect them to slow down. For additional advise on Dalmatians visit www.dalmatianwelfare.co.uk.