Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Tips for introducing a dog to BC trips
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  • #780745
    2486 Posts

    Im kicking around the idea of getting another Husky. I have had four so I know the behavior and what Im getting into. But, I have never taken any of my previous dogs on any trips……mostely because I was afraid they would take off and I wouldnt ever find them

    For those that do- How did you introduce your dog to BC trips and how did you gain the confidence to allow your dog to go with you

    Yes- I know about the question Avalanches, dogs peeing on the skin track ect. Dont want to start that up, just looking for advice

    820 Posts

    I like this topic, dear to my heart, so a bit long winded. I have a lot of fun having my dog out there, and she generally always comes with me when I go out. She is a 4 year old black lab mix, 45 lbs, named Abby. Shes probably done somewhere around 100 tours or so. I’d like to think shes well behaved with me, but there is certainly room for improvement.

    I got Abby at a year old from the pound. She knew sit, stay come, and walked off leash with me, and that gave me the confidence to try her in the backcountry. If she couldn’t do one of those, I wouldn’t have brought her. You need to have full control of those commands prior to going out. She did well, but I chose the wrong run I wasn’t familiar with (too steep) and she freaked out a bit, and I had to carry her a few sections. So I’d suggest keeping it super mellow for a while on tours you know well.

    I also taught “back” which makes her stay behind me, and work on that on walks. Its key, especially when getting closer to avalanche terrain, and when riding. I taught that in the summer, and works really well with the mountain bike too.

    One thing that really helped this year was I started using a shock collar, and its been a huge game changer. She never ran away before (but down the skin track a couple times), but would get so psyched up that she would run past me to another boarder, or cut in front of people, and would bark when we put on our bag. All those things were bad. The collar helped me correct bad behavior easier when a dog is that excited. She now sits, stays back and is much better behaved (no more barking!) so it was huge. Some dogs may not need a collar, but it helped me a lot. Its not very hard shock, just enough to annoy her, and has a beep which she responds to well now. Highly recommended based on my experience.

    Last year she had a close call, getting cut in her leg from a ski, close to the artery. She wasn’t with me at the time (ex girlfriend), but it was a big scare for sure. You run the risk of stuff like that, but she has so much fun. I no longer let her go out with anyone else though, and the shock collar has been huge to keep her out of peoples way.

    Obviously, fitness needs to be strong. I would probably not take a dog less than a year out, because they aren’t strong enough yet and are still growing, and you run the risk of hurting them. My dog is very fit, 45 lbs black lab mix. At first, she would do 2-3K days (at 1-2), but now she can do on average 4K days (at 4), but probably wouldn’t be able to do 6K unless it was full corn. Watch them and if they get sore, its a bit too much, and tone back the next time. She normally bikes 3 days a week or more through the summer, and backpacking trips etc. You should progressively do more with your dog and figure out their level of fitness. Carrying a dog out would suck.

    A key thing I have as well is a dog harness. This one from ruffwear I found was the best. Its great for holding your dog, moving them around stuff, etc. Shes definitely been thrown off a pillow or two.

    Also, ruffwear makes a leash you can put around your waist, it’s helpful for training to keep the dog close. I don’t bring this anymore, just a super lightweight leash.

    Some snow types are tough on a dog. Real deep snow, and unconsolidated junk, they just sink. Corn can cut them up on their legs, but is way easier. I would expect that coastal snowpack would be super good for a dog. But something to consider. My dog likely isn’t coming out with the 2-4 feet of new snow this weekend.

    Also, make sure your partners are good with a dog coming. Some people aren’t, make sure you ask. I don’t tour with those people that much 🙂

    A few things I have to do with my dog for training while I’m out out. Every dog will be different for sure, but this is what I do and seems to work.
    1) On the skin track, make her come back behind me at times, so she knows I’m the boss. Also, try to make sure she gets permission to pass anyone on the up track. If she goes off up the skin track, I find she starts to wander and feels shes leading and stops listening as well.
    2) Stay back at any time near avalanche terrain. No passing. Start with a leash until you know you can trust your dog.
    3) Sit and stay before we get ready to ride. No running off. Use treats to keep attention there.
    4) Always come to me on the down. Never pass me. If you have a treat out for training, it will help getting in this method.
    5) I usually ride first or last, and the dog always stays with me. This allows my friends to stay clear of the dog. She is a bit unpredictable, which likely resulted in her being cut.

    Hope that helps. Really, the shock collar and treats have been key in the past few months. Its really hard to train a dog when they are off leash. this allows you to have a “longer leash” I’d call it.

    Abby, HFT and I on bear Mountain

    Helpful for stream crossings as well.

    Shred the pow!

    303 Posts

    Awesome video and one of the coolest dogs.

    620 Posts

    yeah but Tex said husky as in Siberian Husky, few of those rules apply! Just kidding all good advice, the collar in particular-never used one. I have a 15 year old, but so young hearted sibey. One of my fondest memories of touring with Scooby is hey look, there’s folks way over there up the ridge a half mile or so, hey they have a sled dog too, hey is that my dog?

    +1 always give a good meaty smelling treat at the end of each run. otherwise she could catch up to you, keep going to win the game and be waiting in the bed of your pickup 2 miles and 3000 vert below you before you can say yeah I guess that’s good no more laps today.

    When they find a fallen log with a critter in it sometimes you just have to keep on walkin.

    Try not to follow a siberian after deer. To them it means cool, you got my back, let’s climb this mountain over here instead!

    Maybe get a shepard/husky mix so they want to listen to you occasionally.

    Bring sled dog shoes in spring, road salt from the parking lot and digging for rabbit houses under sharp spring snow can get their paws a bit tender. Not sure what the road salt does but there is a definite cause/effect there.

    Round off board edges on the nose and tail of your board, have a buddy hold them back for your first two turns-longer if you are making sluffs or little wet releases.

    2486 Posts

    Yeah, a Husky is a bit different from most breeds. I have had four and never had the balls to attemp taking them along, but after watching JimW with his Husky I want that from my next dog

    But, Im having issues just etting one.
    Rescue people dont like the fact that my house is in a rual area (lots of little animals to chase)
    or that I live in rattlesnake land
    or that I dont have a high enough fence and plan to keep the dog in a 12x 6 kennel during the day.

    So, I want a Husky….but it may not happen.

    61 Posts

    We have two huskies and I have always wanted to be able to let them run off leash. Unfortunately I trained them incorrectly when they were young and I don’t think it will ever happen with these dogs. One of them is pretty good alone and I trust him not to go too far but he gets nervous off leash and runs back to the truck as soon as he knows where it is. Anyways you know the breed and know what you are up against.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet is a dog tracker. They aren’t cheap but would be worth every penny if your dog decided to run.

    Edit. Garmin now offers a tracker/shock collar in one. I will be buying one if these for our next dog whenever that may be.

    Good luck let us know how it goes

    Stagger Lee
    242 Posts

    Hi Tex,

    Training collars are a great suggestion. My lab Henry couldn’t be trusted off-leash when we rescued him, and after a few months of frustrating hikes, I purchased a training collar with both “beeping” and shocking functions. Starting out by hiding in my house, I was able to train my dog to associate the beeping with “finding me” and receiving a treat. This was a total game changer for us. I then was able to use this beeping feature to keep him from running off, or getting too far ahead of me on skin tracks and corniced ridges, or crossing slide paths, etc… I was soon able to replace the beep with verbal commands like “back up” and “woah” and we haven’t used the collar in years. We still have issues with chasing wildlife, but he’s gotten too old to give chase for very long.

    Oh, and speaking of aging doggies. There comes a time when you might have to admit that your dog’s touring days are limited. I’ve had to scale back Henry’s outings these these days as his arthritis and bad hip don’t jive well with longer tours or certain conditions anymore. I discovered this the hard way when he began limping and whimpering badly on one outing. Made for a long, slow trip back to the truck and costly vet bills. He still gets to tag along with us on mellower trips.


    2486 Posts

    Thanks for the link boardreider. Thats exactly what I would need.

    Nice Dogs Stagger and John

    Im going to wait untill after Silverton and if I do get a dog Ill hike all summer getting it ready

    601 Posts

    This makes me miss my dogs.
    . . . and think of this comic. . .


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    875 Posts

    Many Thanks Guys! Great thread and posts, have been thinking about taking out my Queensland Heeler on some BC trips. Already under voice command and understands the “Wait” command to stop until I give the OK to proceed any further. Wondering what the range is like on the collar/locator? Also, he’s a little small on the frame size, but I guess since it rarely snows in CA I won’t have to worry about him flailing through knee-deep pow.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    61 Posts

    The garmin I linked claims a 9 mile range. I’m assuming that is for the locator functions only but it is a little hard to decifer. My huskies are laying in the hotel bed next to us right now. Spoiled old dogs.

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