She got more comfortable in the deep snow, but it was clear we needed to teach her a command to avoid our skis. We talked to our trainer, Melissa Jackson from Juniper Trails Dog Training. She helped us teach Lila a command called “get out” at home. First, Lila would sit, and as we moved closer to her, we’d say “get out.” The moment she moved back, we’d say “yes,” and reward her with her favorite treat; freeze dried chicken livers. After practicing at home, we took Lila skiing again. Lila knew to get out of the way of our skis and we had an amazing time!
When training your dog as a ski companion, it’s important to start slow. Pay attention to snow conditions. If it’s deep powder, teach your dog to follow ski tracks so they don’t have to break trail. In breakable crust, keep your ski session shorter, because it can put a lot of strain on their joints. Inspect their paws and practice using dog booties to protect them from ski edges and use wax to keep paws from cracking. A snow jacket designed for dogs will also keep them warm and dry.
Keep the outings short and build your way up! Slow down and check in with your dog on the downhill and look for signs of stress. Dogs are pack animals and as your owner, you are their pack. It can cause quite a bit of anxiety when you are speeding down the trail and they can’t keep up. Make extra turns or stop every few minutes so they can catch up and stay with the pack. Consider using a harness with a handle in case you need to pick them up to go over any obstacles. Refuel together when you get home by adding some bone broth or another tasty treat to their water to make sure your dog is rehydrated.
Lila is almost a year old now, and when I take her skiing, I make sure it’s about her more than me. She can accompany me on some of my outings, but it’s still not appropriate to bring her for an all-day tour to cover many miles or vertical feet. But when we do go skiing together, there is no better feeling in the world than having my furry, best friend share the adventure.