Because dogs don't have a natural fear of thin ice, they may walk out onto it and find themselves in a whole heap of trouble if the ice gives way under their weight. That is why it is suggested you keep your dog on a leash during the winter when walking anywhere near water which may not be sufficiently frozen. This safeguard may save the life of your dog as well as yourself. Both dogs and the humans that have tried to save them have lost their lives when venturing out onto thin ice.
With the pond in our backyard skimmed over with a thin layer of ice, I knew I needed to do something to keep our dog Dakota safe. Rather than restrict Dakota to a short leash, I purchased a length of rope about 40' in length and use it in place of a leash. This gives Dakota almost as much freedom as if she were off leash, yet keeps her safe. We allow her to venture a short distance out onto the ice and when she gets too far out for comfort, we pull her back in.
As you can see from the picture above, the ice was way too thin to support Dakota's fifty pounds today so she spent most of her time breaking the ice and then wading along the shore line. Hopefully soon the ice will be stronger and we won't have to deal with a wet muddy dog on cold winter days.