Travelling with Pets

Pups on piste: Skiing with Dogs

Travelling dog bloggers World Wide Walkies give their guide to one of their favourite dog friendly ski resorts in Europe.

Travelling dog bloggers World Wide Walkies give their guide to one of their favourite dog friendly ski resorts in Europe.

We gave up on ski flights long before we had dogs. Taking into account getting to the airport, all the fandangling and transfers, door to door driving to the Alps is not actually much different. Not only that, the journey is fun – not a chore. It’s a road trip!

Enter Les Quatre Cavapoos (our four dogs); Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani. To avoid separation anxiety (us, not them!) we wanted to take them skiing but could find little information on taking small dogs to a cold climate.

So here, I will share with you my tips on taking Pups on Piste and also let you into a big secret – Monte Rosa! We happened upon Gressoney by accident. A last-minute ski trip to a quiet and little-known Italian resort... it was love at first sight!

Skiing in Monte Rosa

Where in Italy: Pennine Alps, Western Alps
Drive from Calais: 1,301.4km / 10h 6m

Part of the Aosta Valley ski area, Monte Rosa consists of three valleys and their namesake villages; Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna. There are spectacularly long descents in each of the valleys – and you can ski to a destination.

Monte Rosa – not ‘pink mountain’, derived from a patois word for ‘glacier’
Monte Rosa – not ‘pink mountain’, derived from a patois word for ‘glacier’. Credit: World Wide Walkies

Staying in the middle valley, Gressoney, we can get back to the dogs easily from everywhere. Monte Rosa itself is an intermediate resort where there are a few easy blues, although the blacks are more like reds. And being Italy, everything is pisted to perfection daily!

For Advanced skiers, Monte Rosa is an off piste paradise. There are Heliskiing opportunities and the Indren lift serves only off-piste itineraries. However, while skiing powder is the eighth wonder of the world, don’t do it without a professional guide.

We love Monte Rosa for various reasons. First, it’s Italy, so fine food, excellent wine and wonderful people are guaranteed (but there are also mountain lunches for under €10). Monte Rosa can be busy at the weekends, but mostly it feels like your own personal ski resort.

Pups on piste!
Pups on piste! Credit: World Wide Walkies

Of course, the scenery didn’t disappoint – we were surrounded by majestic 4000m Alpine peaks, overshadowed by Monte Rosa and with spectacular views of the Matterhorn. Monte Rosa is also sheltered by Mont Blanc, so bluebird skies are not uncommon. For snow, the resorts are relatively high and have extensive snow-making facilities too.

Taking dogs skiining in Monte Rosa

Dogs are welcome on gondolas and in many mountain huts. Although, dogs should wear a muzzle on shuttle buses (Navetta) and in cable cars.

As for walkies, there are well-marked and pisted skinning tracks, snow-shoe trails and Nordic (Ski de Fond) pistes, which are ideal for pooches. (However, do ask Tourist Information where is safe to walk.)

Gressoney St Jean – La Passegiata della Regina (Queens Walk) and the River Lys Path make a lovely circuit. Gabiet Gondola walks on skinning trails to the off piste Orestes Hut and Coumarial, above Fontainemore, is a beautiful area in the Mont Mars Nature Reserve with extensive and relatively safe walking tracks.

Winter walkies – the Orestes approach.
Winter walkies – the Orestes approach. Credit: World Wide Walkies

Top 10 tips to keep chilly canines cosy

Of course it’s still important to keep your dogs warm when travelling to the Alps. Here is our swift summary of everything that we needed to know:

  1. Cold –Dog Jumpers insulate, keep snow out and wick moisture.
  2. Salt & Antifreeze - are toxic. No drinking from roadside puddles and rinse paws before licking!
  3. Snow Removal - Soak off snow balled up in the coat with lukewarm water. Only dry doggies should go back outside.
  4. Don’t Leave Dogs in Cars - Dogs die in cold cars.
  5. Winter Hazards - Snow piled near boundaries presents escape opportunities. Snow sliding off roofs can injure dogs (and people!). Watch out for things like frozen ponds, which may be concealed under snow.
  6. Walk in Sunshine - Walk when the day has warmed up. A few shorter walks or play sessions are better than one long walk in freezing temperatures.
  7. Stay Indoors - Don’t leave pets outside in cold weather. Indoors, provide a cosy bed, not a cold floor. Make sure that they can’t burn themselves on radiators, heaters or log fires…
  8. Hydration – Cold, altitude and central heating are all very dehydrating – and you can’t rehydrate by eating snow. Water should always be available indoors and out walking.
  9. Winter Feeding –avoid a pooch with a paunch! Indoors and doing shorter walks, they probably need less food.
  10. Paws
    • Trim - nails & fur between the pads to stop slipping and reduce snow and ice build-up between pads.
    • Paw Balm – protects pads from chemicals. We used Musher’s Secret and had no sore or cracked pads.
    • Wash & Dry Paws (and tums) - to remove salt and chemicals.
    • During the Walk –remove ice balls from between pads.
    • Boots – we agonised over boots; we tried them; we gave up! They are not really necessary.
Stretching our legs in Lys Valley.
Stretching our legs in Lys Valley. Credit: World Wide Walkies

For more information, see the Visit Monte Rosa website, or to join us on more of our Continental Driftings with a Caravan and Cavapoos, read our other blog for Eurotunnel about our pawsome adventure from Calais to Slovenia!

There’s a whole new pawsome adventure to discover with your pooches! Start your winter walkies planning early and take advantage of the best prices when booking in advance with us.

Top image credit: World Wide Walkies