Winter is coming! Now that summer is behind us and the days are getting shorter it is time to rethink the activities we can do with our 4-legged companions. As true Washingtonians we cannot let a little rain get in the way, that’s what a top layer of Gore-Tex is for.  For those truly stormy days outside is just not an option, so we’ve put together a few activities you and your furry friend can do together, both out in the elements.

A Dog About Town

If you’re looking to grab some food and drinks with friends but don’t want your pup to feel left out, check out these fun restaurants, coffee shops, bars and taprooms that allow dogs:

Bickersons Brewhouse (Renton Highlands)

Triplehorn Brewing Co. (Woodinville)

Norm’s Eatery & Alehouse (Fremont)

192 Brewing – Lake Trail Taproom (Kenmore)

Bark! Espresso (Northgate)

Sully’s Snowgoose Saloon (Phinney Ridge)

The Hop and Hound (Bothell)

Flatsick Pub & Mini Golf (Kirkland & Pioneer Sq)

Hellbent Brewery (Lake City)

Just remember that your furry date needs to use their manners so we can all keep enjoying these dog friendly establishments in the future. Also, a lot of these bars and restaurants get very full in the evenings and your pup might not be that much of a party animal.

Off Season Hiking

Winter hiking is a great way to get out on those occasional sunny… or less rainy fall and winter days. After September there are a lot fewer people on the trails, which makes it a great time to get the dogs hiking without too many distractions. Hiking in the Fall, Winter, or Spring can bring its own set of challenges that you must prepare for but if you pack properly you can have a great day. Obviously, the weather can throw you the biggest curve ball; it can go from a sunny morning to a blustery afternoon in just a few hours. Make sure you pack plenty of extra warm clothes and possibly 4 booties or a vest for your hiking partner. Here are a few of the lower elevation trails in our area that stay snow free for most of the season.

               Issaquah Alps: As you head east out of Bellevue you will see the foothills start to pop up. On the south side of I-90 there are 3 peaks, Cougar Mountain, Squak Mountain, and Tiger Mountain (west to east). These parks/state forests are accessible with miles of trails and scenic outlooks, you can even hike from the summit of Hwy 18 to Lake Washington only crossing a few roads. Here are some of my favorite trails from west to east:

·        Coal Creek Trail: The western most trail of the Alps starts at Newport Shores (Lake Washington) and continues east along Coal Creek. The best parking and access point is at the newly renovated Upper Coal Creek Trailhead on Coal Creek Pkwy. Heading east toward Newcastle, the trail is well maintained with a gradual climb. The Coal Creek Natural Area is a true slice of wilderness in the urban Eastside, offering both solitude and Starbucks.

·        Jim Whittaker Wilderness Peak Trailhead: Named after the PNW’s most renowned big mountain climber and located on the eastside of Cougar Mountain, this trailhead gives you great access to the Wilderness Peak Loop. Well maintained and marked trails makes for an easy self-guided tour of the Mountain. Passing by old growth conifers, the hike starts off steep but ultimately flattens out into meadows and marshes with split-log boardwalks to keep your paws out of the mud.

·        Poo Poo Point: Fallow the Paragliders to the outcrop of Granit on the westside of Tiger Mountain. The large rock face is warmed up by the sun creating strong thermal updrafts, making this one of the best launch points for Paragliders in the country. Even if paragliding does not get your tail wagging, the panoramic view from Mount Rainier to Seattle and the Olympics is breath taking. This is a very popular and crowed hike so I would recommend going in the off season.

·        Cable Line Trailhead: Get off I-90 at exit 20, turn south and you are there! This trail might be easy to get to, but you will need to put in the work to get to the top. If you are looking for hike to test your stamina, and your hiking partner is in good physical shape, this is the hike for you. It is only 1.5 miles to the top, but the summit (2,522’) is 4 times higher above sea level than the trailhead; you will gain over 2,000’ of elevation. Expect to find some snow towards the top so pack some extra clothes and warm jackets for everyone.

Strengthen Your Skills

Work on your dog’s obedience skills. To keep you and your dog sharp, practice command skills to strengthen the trust and bond between you and your dog. Training is a lifelong process for both you and your dog and just like humans, they might need a refresher course on basic commands. Sit, Leave it, Come, Down, and Place are great basic commands that will allow you and your furry friend to enjoy each other’s company even more. Remember that each dog is different; they are motivated in different ways and will learn at different speeds. Here are a few tips:

Consistent repetition and reinforcement is what most training boils down to. Set up an area that is free of distractions and work with your dog on each command one at a time. Once you give a command follow through until the proper behavior is given. Be quick to reward if they behave correctly so they associate the good behavior with the reward. Make sure everyone who spends time with the dog is consistent with command words and understands what they should expect.

A motivated dog is a great student so be sure to find a high value treats, such as cheese, cooked chicken or ground beef, to reward correct behavior with. Praise them when they do something correct, dogs want to please you so show them you are proud of them. Remember to not give a treat until they give the proper behavior; you are rewarding your dog, not bribing them.

Keep a positive attitude and take breaks as needed. Training is mentally draining for your dog and once either one of you gets tired or frustrated it is time to stop for the day.

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