Ice fishing can be lonely and even boring sometimes.
Bringing your dog along is one way to break up the day and ensure you have a furry companion to keep you company.
Whether you’re a seasoned ice fishing veteran or new to the sport altogether, we highly recommend bringing your dog if you can. This guide covers some of the best tips you’ll want to take when bringing your dog on the ice.
Can you take your dog ice fishing? Yes, you should have no problem taking your dog ice fishing in most cases. Check with local laws to ensure it’s legal, bring plenty of warm gear and toys, and ensure you always keep an eye on your dog to make sure they’re safe.
Can You Take Your Dog Ice Fishing?
If you’re interested in taking your dog ice fishing, there are quite a few things you’ll want to know. The only factor that will decide whether or not you can take your dog is local laws and restrictions in your area.
You’ll first want to check and see if there are any legal restrictions where you plan to fish. Many state parks will have requirements for pets, especially dogs.
Chances are, you’ll have to keep your dog on a leash, and some state parks may have restrictions preventing dogs from stepping foot on the ice.
The laws will vary by state, so you’ll need to check with your local Department of Conservation of Natural Resources to find out if there are any legal steps you need to take.
How to Take Your Dog Ice Fishing?
There are some important factors to consider when taking your dog ice fishing. You can’t simply throw them in the back of your truck and head to the lake. Here are a couple of steps you’ll want to take.
Bring the Right Gear
Once you’ve determined that it’s legal to bring your pup, it’s time to start thinking about gear.
Whether you’re planning on being on the ice for three minutes or three hours, you need to remember that your dog’s paws are highly sensitive. Consider getting a set of dog boots for them. This will not only keep their paws warm but it’ll help your dog maintain proper traction on the ice.
You’ll also need to provide them with a place to rest that isn’t the ice. In most cases, a blanket or sheet won’t cut it. You’ll want to get a bed that raises them off the ice .
If you’re fishing inside an ice fishing shelter , comfort will be a little bit easier. Just be sure to keep their bed far enough away from the hole, so they’re not tempted to stick their paw down the hole after a fish.
Factoring all of these things in will not only keep them comfortable, but it could extend your overall fishing time if you know that your dog isn’t freezing.
Don’t Forget Snacks
Lastly, you’ll need to think about food, drinks, and toys. If you’re only planning on being on the ice for a couple of hours, food shouldn’t be a problem. Bring your pup something to chew on or a few healthy treats to hold them over.
As for water, drinking lake water isn’t always a bad option, but you, as the pet parent, need to make that choice. It can’t hurt to bring a couple of extra water bottles if you’re concerned about the water.
As always, bring along a few toys to keep your pup busy while you’re wetting your lines.
How Do You Keep Your Dog Safe on the Ice?
Safety is a huge factor for both humans and dogs when ice fishing. The first thing you’ll need to think about is ice thickness.
It’s not recommended that you walk on ice less than four inches thick. If you’re fishing on a river, you can reduce that by 15% because the water beneath you is moving.
Bring a life jacket, ice pick, and rope with you in addition to your fishing gear. Bear in mind that you can purchase dog life jackets as well.
If your pup falls into the water, they most likely won’t be able to get out, and you may have to jump in after them. You’ll want to secure the ice pick outside the hole and tie the rope to it before jumping in. You can then use the rope and ice pick as leverage to pull you and your pup out.
One way to prevent this from happening is not letting your dog roam too far. In addition to leash laws, allowing your dog to roam freely around the ice has its risks.
Many fishermen pour antifreeze into the hole to prevent it from gathering slush. If your curious pup sees or smells it, they might lick it and get sick.
Unexpected whiteouts could cause your dog to become disoriented. When you’re out on a lake, there isn’t a lot of protection around, which leads to heavy snowdrifts. When the snow starts whirling and whipping around, it’s easy to lose track of your location.
This could cause your dog to wander off in a direction where the ice isn’t as thick.
Another important consideration is the safety of your gear. You don’t want to leave hooks and lures around when you have your dog. They could accidentally swallow a hook or eat something that could make them sick.
Many ice fishermen use peanut butter as bait on their hooks. If you’re letting your dog wander, they could slurp up a delicious-looking hook causing severe internal damage.
You’ll also want to be careful what you do with fishing electronics, rods, and reels. When your pup is running around the ice, there is a chance that they could bump into a fish finder or step on a fragile rod.
Dogs are great companions and can be quite helpful on the ice, but we all know they can get rambunctious too.
Be sure to keep your dog in sight at all times, put away all unused gear, and don’t let them wander too far in any direction.
Why Should You Take Your Dog Ice Fishing?
We’ve talked so much about all of the things you shouldn’t do with your dog. That may make some anglers wonder if taking their dog ice fishing is even a good idea.
There are plenty of great reasons to take your dog on the ice as well.
If you’re fishing in remote locations, your dog may be your only line of defense against a bear, mountain lion, or other predators. Simply having them there can quickly make you aware of a bad situation.
Ice fishing is lonely sometimes. It’s often cold, dark, and quiet. Having your dog with you is a great way to improve your overall experience. While your pup might actually get in the way of your fishing sometimes, it’s worth it to have a companion.
Think of fishing together in the same way you would think of fishing with a child. You’re allowing your dog to experience the great outdoors with you.
Next time you’re planning an ice fishing trip, consider bringing your furry friend along. Be sure to find out from your local DCNR if bringing your dog on the ice is legal.
Once you’ve confirmed that, put together a list of gear you need and always put safety first before venturing out.
Ice fishing is peaceful, enjoyable, and rewarding for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Most importantly, you’re creating memories and building a stronger bond with your pup.