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  • Writer's pictureGaelle

Tips for Winter Hiking With Your Dog | Denver Pet Photographer

When the snow comes in winter, it can feel boring for some dogs that thrive on exercise. Hiking with your dog in the winter is a great way to get exercise, enjoy nature, and create memories together.

As with any hike, it’s best to hike prepared and plan ahead. Hiking in the winter requires a little more preparation when hiking with your dog.

I’ve gathered some best practices and tips for winter hiking with your dog

photo of a dog on top of a mountain near denver colorado. Dog has on a blue collar and tongue hanging out looking at camera
Hiking with your dog can be a fun adventure for everyone!

Tips for a Safe Winter Hike With Your Dog

Winter hikes can be so much fun, but they need a little extra planning. Some dog essentials for a safe winter hike are listed below.

Dog Hiking Essentials:

Dog booties

Dog jacket

Thermal or waterproof blanket


Collapsible water bowl

Dog treats

Waste bags

First Aid Kit

Hand Warmers (optional)

Dog Booties

Dog booties might seem like a waste of money, but they serve a purpose.

If your dog has long hair around the paws, snow can get stuck between the pads. Dog booties can protect their sensitive paws.

Before hiking, have your dog get used to wearing dog booties around the house. Once they tolerate them for short periods of time, take a walk around your neighborhood. Slowly expand the time your dog wears booties so they’ll get used to them before it’s time to hike.

Dog Jacket

Make a fashion statement AND keep your dog warm! Again, this may seem like a waste of money at first, but it serves a purpose.

If your dog doesn’t have a thick coat of fur to protect them, they’re at a higher risk for hypothermia and frostbite. We don't want that!

Short-haired dogs need extra protection from the cold, like a thermal jacket. If you would be cold outside, chances are that your short-haired dog would be too. So dress them as warmly, as you would dress.

One thing to note about jackets: make sure the coat is snug around their chest. If it drags to the ground, it could get wet, freeze and defeat the purpose of having it.

Thermal Blanket

It’s important to take breaks when hiking with your dog. Your dog will need to sit for these short breaks, and sitting on the cold ground won’t cut it.

Bring a thermal or waterproof blanket your dog can sit on something that isn’t going to make them colder.

pet portrait of a black dog wearing a red sweater while sitting on a red plaid blanket in front of pine trees in denver co
Fashionable AND Functionable Items! The sweater and blanket both help to make sure the dog is warm while having his pet portraits taken in the snow!

Water and Collapsible Water Bowls

For humans and pets, I always suggest carrying water close to your body, so it doesn’t freeze. If you can’t do this, consider buying a pair of disposable hand warmers. You can put the hand warmers into your bag to keep water and treats from freezing.

Collapsible water bowls are convenient for hikes. They don’t take up a lot of space, and they’re very lightweight.


Bring treats that will stay soft and easy to chew if temperatures drop. Keep the treats close to your body or use a hand warmer to avoid freezing. By doing this, you will ensure your dog can have treats throughout the hike.

Waste Bags and First Aid Kit

Last, but not least, every hike with a dog should include waste bags and a first aid kit. You can find pet first aid kits on Amazon or any local pet supply store.

Things to Watch For During Winter Hikes

Take cues from your dog while you’re hiking in the cold. Pay attention to cues they may give to indicate they're not having a good time.

Some signs of distress to watch for:

  • Your dog barks or whines

  • Your dog gets anxious or starts tugging on the leash

  • Your dog has cold paws, ears, nose, or tip of its tail.

  • Your dog starts shivering

  • Your dog wants to sit and stop hiking

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to turn around and call it a day.

two photos of a black long haired dog playing in the snow. One photo has a person walking a few steps ahead in boot deep snow.
Playing in the snow can be enjoyable for humans and people. But always make sure your dog isn't showing signs of distress.

When NOT to Hike With Your Dog

Young puppies and older dogs can’t regulate their body temperatures very well. If your dog is on the younger or older end of their age bracket, it might be best to skip a winter hike for now. Playing in the snow for short bursts of time might be better for dogs in these age groups.

two photos of a goldendoodle pup playing in the snow with a tennis ball
This little guy is still a pup. He can't regulate his body temperature very well yet. Playing in the snow would be better suited than a hike, until he is older.

Before You Hike Together

Try to take a short walk in the snow or a very short hike before hitting a longer trail. This will give you a better idea of how well your dog can handle the cold.

photo of a dog walking up a snowy hill on denver colorado farm
By taking your dog on short walks in the snow first, you will better understand how they adjust to being in cold temperatures.

Pet-Friendly Hiking Trails near Denver Colorado

These are some trails that are pet-friendly and within 30 minutes of Denver.

  • South Valley Park in Littleton - Easy ½ to 3 mile hike

  • White Ranch Sunset Loop - Moderate 2 mile loop

  • Elk Meadow Park - Easy 2.6 mile loop trail

  • Davis Ponds Loop at Ataunton - Easy 2 mile loop hike

  • Bear Creek Trail - Easy 2 mile hike

beautiful snow covered mountains with a pond or lake in front of it
Colorado is STUNNING when it's snow covered!

photo of the back of a dog sitting near a mountain outside of Denver Colorado
One of my favorite pet portraits! Scenic Denver and a light dusting of snow on the dog feels tranquil.

Giving Back to the Denver Animal Shelter

I organize events during the year to support animal charities. I created a pet calendar, that you can purchase here to benefit The Denver Animal Shelter.

I talked about the pet calendar more in my last post that you can read here.

The proceeds benefit the Denver Animal Shelter, a cause that is very important to me. I hope you'll take a look at the calendar, and help support our local community as well.

photo of dog in front of a large tree for pet portrait that helped to raise funds for Denver Animal Shelter
Meet Elliott! He's on the cover of the Beautiful Paws 2022 Calendar!

Want more tips? Take a look at some of the other blogs I have listed below!


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