Rules of Cross-Country Skiing with Dogs

If you are planning to take your dog out on a cross country adventure, why not! Cross country skiing and dog walking is a great combination. After all, a dog is a man’s best friend, and who does not want to ski with their best buddy in the fresh air? If you think you love to ski, wait until you see your dog enjoy the thrill. Dogs seem to get even more excited than human skiers when on snowy ski trails, especially the groomed ones. But not all cross country ski trails allow dogs, and there is a reason for that.

Basic Etiquette for Dog Owners on the Trails

As surprising as it may sound, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do! Many fellow XC skiers may not be too comfortable skiing along with your dog unless your dog is under control and does not threaten or bother them. The cross country ski trails are designed for your enjoyment, and though many of these trails allow your furry friend to accompany you, you need to make sure you are following the basic etiquettes of bringing your dog to the trails for skijoring.

xc skiing with dogs

Many cross country skiing areas and resorts explicitly mention their dog policies on their websites. Make sure you go through the rules of the trails you are planning to take your dog to. Even if not stated, the following are the basic etiquettes for dog owners on the XC ski trails:

1. Use Only Dog-Friendly Trails

Although you can find many pet-friendly trails around your ski location, make sure you follow the rules and take your dog to the trails that explicitly mention that they allow dogs. Just like these XC trails do not allow walking or riding a bike, they also do not encourage dogs walking on their trails. Skijoring dogs can do a lot of damage on groomed trails by leaving punching holes with every step they take. For this reason, some skijoring trails even charge a small amount of trail fees for dogs in order to cover the work associated with maintaining their trails. We have listed some of the best dog friendly cross-country ski trails in the USA.

Even on a dog-friendly trail, if your dog causes any damage or injuries, you are responsible for your dog’s actions.

2. Check Local Rules

Before heading out to ski, check the rules of the ski area either on their website or by calling them. Some trails are one-way and the last thing a skier wants is to have a collision with an approaching dog. Many trails are open for dogs only on weekdays. Before heading out on a weekend or a holiday, make sure the trails welcome dogs on that day. Also, as per the rules and safety, many dog-trails do not allow dogs if the snow is too soft.

3. One Dog Per Skier

Often, it is not the dog’s fault, it is the inconsiderate dog owners who cause disturbance to the fellow skiers. Taking a team of dogs out on the trail can cause inconvenience to other skiers. Most of the ski areas explicitly mention their rules of having one dog per skier, some allow two smaller dogs per skier as well. The rules vary, so if you are not sure, take only one on the dog-trail.

4. Keep Your Dog on Leash

If you are taking out your furry friend on a cross country skiing adventure, make sure he/ she is on a leash – usually attached to a dog sledding harness. Even if you consider your dog to be the friendliest dog on the planet, put him/ her on a leash as a small dog or a skiing toddler could get frightened by a big dog approaching him/ her. Make sure to restrain your dog’s leash when other skiers are approaching.

5. Keep Your Dog Under Voice Control, Always

Though you should be keeping your dog on a leash if the local rules allow your dog to go off the leash, make sure your four-legged friend listens to you at all times. If you feel your dog does not obey you at all times, then use a leash even on dog-trails that allow you to go off-leash. Obedience training is also something worth to consider.

Often the XC ski trail is adjacent to or passes through private property. Make sure you as well as your dog stays on the ski trail. In case your dog is off the leash, your dog should never step into the private property no matter how harmless his/ her intentions are. Most of the ski centers and resorts have the right to cancel your and your dog’s trail pass in case your dog’s behavior (or yours!) is not at par with their rules.

6. Always Clean Up!

Other cross country skiers are on the trail to enjoy, which does not include sliding off your dog’s poop with their cross country skis! Carry a couple of bags with you to clean up your dog’s litter. Even if your dog has pooped away from the trail, it is your duty as a dog owner to clean up after your dog. The same goes for parking lots.

If you notice some other dog’s poop on the trail, slide it off the trail as a common courtesy. There are many trails that still do not allow dogs for the same reason, so keep the ones that do allow, nice and clean.


If you have skied with your dog before, you know there are very few activities that are more enjoyable than dog walking compined with this winter sport. Make sure you follow the rules and act as a good dog owner. If you have never tried XC skiing with your fur baby, try it! Skijoring is a great workout for both of you. Not only do you get to spend time with your pooch, but it is also great for you (and your pup’s) physical as well as mental wellbeing. But the skiing season is also as important for your fellow skiers and their families as it is for yours. And not everyone is a huge fan of dogs like you are! Respect the physical space of other skiers and keep your dog close to you – ideally, your dog leash should not be longer than nine feet – unless stated otherwise.

Unfortunately, many dog owners do not act as responsible citizens when it comes to controlling their dogs or cleaning after them. No one knows your dog better than you do. If you feel your dog gets excited when he/ she sees other people, keep him/ her on the leash even in dog-trails that do not ask you to leash-up your dog. No matter how tempting or empty a certain trail looks like if it does not allow dogs, do not risk skiing with your dog there.

Make sure you obey the rules of these ski centers, so in the future, more ski trails start to accept dogs along with their human cross country skiing partners.