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Dog and Winter Camping

Dogs, dogs and even some cats
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Dog and Winter Camping

Postby jakewilt » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:10 pm

Hello Everyone,

I take my dog (80 pound black lab) hiking in the winter regularly and am thinking about doing overnighters with him this winter. However, I am worried about the cold. I understand that all dogs differ when it comes to cold temps (breed,acclimatization, etc...). I would love to hear peoples experiences when taking their dogs on overnight camping trips during the winter months.

I was thinking of bringing a 60-degree plus sleeping bag for him but am not sure if this is overkill or not enough. If anyone has recommendations for bedding, I would love to hear them.

I saw one previous post on this but nothing specific to backpacking with dogs. Most posts were related to winter car camping.

Thanks,
Jake

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby RubiBlu06 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:30 pm

A dog coat will be a good start, as well as boots for that breed. If you are camping, you might get a catalytic heater, runs on propane and can be used indoors without fear of asphyxiation. Usually available at Sportsmans Warehouse - I think... This will probably get too hot inside the tent, so if you put the dog in the vestibule of a tent with a heater he ought to be fine. A fleece blanket wrapped around the dog will also help, if they will stay still overnight. Course my malamute would rather go walk through ice water and lie in the snow before having anything to do with a heater...
It's never right the first time, and if it is... It's wrong.

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby sgladbach » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

I have an Australian Sherherd. He does fine. I have a decent sized one-man tent which has less air space to heat and helps us both stay warmer. I sleep in my bag on my pads, the lay down my pack, jacket, some clothes etc. down for Cooper. He's snuggles up pretty close (something he never does at home.) Ocassionally, the goal for day two (i.e. wetterhorn in winter) is not an appropriate climb for him. In that case, I let him out to go to the bathroom, roll up my sleeping bag, and let him sleep the day away on my pads. He's content enough and, of course, he still gets to do the hike from base camp back to the car.

There's a couple photos in this TR: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=4031&parmuser=sgladbach&cpgm=tripuser

Steve
"We knocked the bastard off." Hillary, 1953
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." Hillary, 2003
Couldn't we all use 50 years of humble growth?

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby spot_coop » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:48 pm

I have a BC and an aussie and we take them out snowshoeing in the winter. They have enough fur so they don't get cold and they do snuggle up at night in the tent when it's cold. We always have extra blankets for them and if they feel cool to the touch, I'll wrap them up in the blanket. I second the comment about booties. They really help keep the snow from balling up between the pads. I'm actually going to try making some this winter that have backcountry skin material on the bottom to give them some extra traction.

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby coloradokevin » Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:36 am

My dog is an 80lb Akita/German Shepherd mix (most likely). I've yet to have her out in true winter conditions, which I'd define as temperatures falling close to or below zero degrees at night. However, I've had my dog out on nights when the temps have dropped below freezing. For her I've found that a small piece of fleece between us in the tent, with the dog cuddled up between two sleeping bags, is more than enough.

I will also be attempting to get my dog out in the heart of winter this year, as I think my schedule may finally allow me to get out for some nice winter backpacking again. I think I may try bringing a small piece of closed cell foam for the dog to sleep on, as well as a light but sturdy blanket to throw over her while she sleeps.

Every dog is different, but I think this will be on the verge of overkill for my dog.

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby pnolans » Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:03 am

On a related note, and I don't mean to hijack the topic, but I take my dog with me when I go to Keystone (or wherever). Really,
he HATES to be left at home.

Last year, I took him for the first time. I left the window cracked. He had food and water. Was only gone about an hour. When I got back, he was shivering.
I'm not sure if it was from the cold, or just fear of abandonment. I had only had him for less than 6 months then. It's about a year and a half now.

I have a Grand Cherokee, and the back seat is his territory. I was wondering, should I bring along an old sleeping bag, leave the window just barely cracked
to allow fresh air exchange?
The catalytic heater is probably too much for a Jeep Cherokee, unattended. ?

He's a German Shepherd, Cattle dog mix. Weighs about 50 pounds. Hikes with me always, seems to do ok in cold weather. I don't want to baby him, but
also don't want to be an insensitive jerk. If he's cold, I'd like to provide for that. And he still hasn't figured out a way to tell me. :D

Thanks for any input.

Pat
"Hey Queen Isabella,
stay away from that fella
He'll just get you into trouble, you know"
Common Sense John Prine

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby spot_coop » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:01 am

For leaving the dog in the car while skiing - I'd just throw in a couple extra blankets that he can snuggle up in. My dogs have hung out in the car when we've gone skiing and they've done ok. I don't always crack the windows either. It'll stay warmer, without suffocating, with the windows closed in the winter. You can always check after a bit and if it's too stuffy, then you can open the windows. I usually stop back by the car every couple of hours to let them out to run around in the snow. They LOVE the snow!

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby ryguy79 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:26 pm

My american eskimo loves winter hiking but I'm worried about winter camping with him. We were camping over the weekend and it dipped down into the 20s and while he refused to stay under a blanket, he did lay on summer sleeping bag i brought for him to sleep on. I guess he was warm enough, but its hard to tell with a dog.

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby delbo » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:23 pm

I got my dog a wool blanket he's really not interested in lying on it but he rather does enjoy humping it till he wears himself out and goes to sleep. :lol:
"Who Cares"

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby Inky6900 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:21 am

jakewilt,

The three people you should contact are jbchalk, kling and bionerd. I'm not sure if that is the exact spelling of each of their online names but it is close. Do a search just to double check and send them a PM.

Anyway, these three people climb with their dogs in all 4 seasons and have done winter mountaineering. I've spoke with each of them via phone and/or email. All three are experienced and trustworthy and will be able to offer solid advice in regards to your questions.

While my dog (Sawyer) has almost completed the 14ers I don't climb or camp in winter and really couldn't offer the advice these three can. My mountaineering and climbing abilities are not as advanced as these three climbers either.

Josh Aho
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby coloradokevin » Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:28 am

pnolans wrote:On a related note, and I don't mean to hijack the topic, but I take my dog with me when I go to Keystone (or wherever). Really,
he HATES to be left at home.

Last year, I took him for the first time. I left the window cracked. He had food and water. Was only gone about an hour. When I got back, he was shivering.
I'm not sure if it was from the cold, or just fear of abandonment. I had only had him for less than 6 months then. It's about a year and a half now.

I have a Grand Cherokee, and the back seat is his territory. I was wondering, should I bring along an old sleeping bag, leave the window just barely cracked
to allow fresh air exchange?
The catalytic heater is probably too much for a Jeep Cherokee, unattended. ?

He's a German Shepherd, Cattle dog mix. Weighs about 50 pounds. Hikes with me always, seems to do ok in cold weather. I don't want to baby him, but
also don't want to be an insensitive jerk. If he's cold, I'd like to provide for that. And he still hasn't figured out a way to tell me. :D

Thanks for any input.

Pat


The car-at-ski-area thing seems quite popular, and I always used to worry about my dog on the cold days too. Personally, I leave the windows closed, and figure that my Cherokee has more than enough air flowing through it to keep a dog alive (heck, I've slept in there with another adult in the past, with windows up). Now that my dog is no longer a puppy, I'm confident that she'll be comfortable during any day of skiing that I'd be involved in, though I think she could also get chilled with the windows down.

For car stays I usually just leave her blanket in the back of the car. On the really cold days I have also been known to leave a couple of Nalgene bottles full of hot water under a different blanket, just in case she wants a warmer spot to sleep (I figure that Nalgene bottles in sleeping bags have kept me warm in winter for years, so why not let my dog enjoy the same benefits of hot water?).

One thing that could be just as important to watch for is overheating on warm winter/spring skiing days! I've skied on days where the temperature has been surprisingly warm and sunny out here, and a closed car parked in an area without shade can quickly get hot! On the other hand, a closed car parked in a sunny spot on a bitterly cold day may warm up just right! My suggestion is to always check back on your dog every few hours... Better to waste some time off of the slopes than to find your dog dead.


Here's my pup near Heart Lake (James Peak Wilderness):

Image

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Re: Dog and Winter Camping

Postby pnolans » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:22 am

One thing that could be just as important to watch for is overheating on warm winter/spring skiing days! I've skied on days where the temperature has been surprisingly warm and sunny out here, and a closed car parked in an area without shade can quickly get hot! On the other hand, a closed car parked in a sunny spot on a bitterly cold day may warm up just right! My suggestion is to always check back on your dog every few hours... Better to waste some time off of the slopes than to find your dog dead.


Cool looking dog!

I have no problem checking on my dog every couple of hours. I buy a season pass, and never feel like I didn't get enough time on the mountains.

It's weird , the reason I asked, is that normally, my dog Taz seems to prefer very cold weather to warm. It may be 25 degrees out, but while we're driving, he wants a window open and hangs out it. So, last season, I was really surprised that he seemed to be cold in the car.

I like the idea about the Nalgene bottles. I'll probably just quit cracking the windows, and carry some wool blankets. Even if he DOES want to hump them until he falls asleep. He definitely is a guy. :)
"Hey Queen Isabella,
stay away from that fella
He'll just get you into trouble, you know"
Common Sense John Prine

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