How to Ski With Your Dog in the Backcountry 2024/2025

How to Ski With Your Dog in the Backcountry 2024/2025
How many of you are able to tour with your pup? We sat down with athlete and dog-mom Keli Spencer (@kelli_out_exploring) to talk about tips and tricks for taking your furry friend on the trail with you.


Things to bring for you/your dog:⁠

1. Dog Puffy jacket, Dog Booties, Dog Harness⁠⠀
2. TREATS (bring plenty!)⁠⠀
3. Extra water⁠ and a water bowl
4. Extra puffy for me or the dog in if it's extra cold.⁠⠀
5. First Aid and a splint made for dog legs.⁠⠀

kelli and dog1. Teach your dog heal. She is always at least about 6 ft. behind me. That’s essential. ⁠⠀⁠⠀

2. Make sure your dog has a healthy ‘fear’ of the actual skis, but not of skiing. I trained Kenai early to not get too close to the skis. 

3. Utilize that ‘heel’ during skiing. When I start off downhill, she’s always in heel…meaning she’s running 3 feet behind me on my right. Once I get ahead of her, I’ll release her and she can run her little heart out to the bottom. I always make sure she’s behind me and clear of the edges.⁠

4. Harness, Winter Jacket, and Booties are ESSENTIAL. Here in AK, we are out skiing in -10 or -25 weather. Kenai has a puffy jacket and booties to always protect her from the cold/snow. Her harness is amazing for steeper chutes or any ridge lines. She’s pretty smart about it, but I always take the extra precaution of having her harnessed and roped on to me if we are up on something gnarly. If it’s a steep chute or a ridge, she will ride on my shoulders through the sketchy part, and then she can get off and run. All her gear is @Ruffwear. Their gear holds up, and is made super well (like Renoun Skis).⁠⠀

5. Confidence boosting. TREATS TREATS TREATS! I legit have a pocket full of treats. She gets treats on the skin line up when she’s good, comes to her command I always give her a bacon strip on the summit. She KNOWS she’s getting treats. Then on the way down I honestly just hoot and holler at her and she loves it. And more treats at the bottom so she knows she did a good job.⁠

6. It’s okay to turn around, and watch their body language closely.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Can Dogs Ski?
    • While dogs can't pop into their ski boots, click into their skis and slide down the mountain like we do, there are tons of ways to include your pup in your on-hill activities. A well-trained dog can safely join you on your backcountry or nordic skiing expeditions. 
  • Q: Where Can I Ski With My Dog? 
    • While no resorts in the US allow dogs on the slopes while lifts spin, many allow dogs on the hill before and after hours. Okemo and Smuggler's Notch in Vermont, Arapahoe Basin and Crested Butte in Colorado, and Sugar Bowl in California all are known for their dog-friendly after-hours policies. Make sure to check with your local resort before bringing your dog on-hill, and make sure to follow any up-hill route trail signs and local rules. Many, but not all nordic skiing centers also allow dogs. Ensure to call your local center and make sure they allow dogs. There's nothing worse than parking the car and unloading your pup only to find out to see a "No dogs" sign. 



Why Trust Us?

Renoun Skis Reviews team has over a decade of ski design and manufacturing experience, and decades of combined ski-industry experience ranging from certified PSIA ski instructors to shop technicians, racers, and coaches. We also have a deep passion for and love of all things skiing. The team utilizes this experience to provide unparalleled reviews that dive deep to help guide your purchase for just about any ski-related item and help inform you of any ski-focused tips and tricks about maintenance, on-hill performance, and even the best places to enjoy your Après-Ski. Through written and video content, the Renoun Skis Reviews team is here to help inform you on all things ski-related.

Our team curates recommendations based on an intensive research and review process and leverages our unique expertise in the industry. A product must be exceptional in quality and have unique features to qualify for consideration in our review process. For all tips and tricks, all advice is based on on-hill and ski manufacturing knowledge, as well as intensive research to ensure accuracy and help skiers like you stay informed.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at

Reading next

Behind the Lens with Jakob Gjerluff Ager – Photographer & Athlete
How to Prepare Your Skis For Summer 2024

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.