We’re Going to Skijor Together!
As contributed by Lynn Whittaker Bow Wow U
When living in a region like New England, where winter is unavoidable, dog owners are constantly looking for ways to spend quality time with their canine companions during the dreaded winter months. My advice is to get some fresh air, take advantage of the snow, and maybe even try skijoring.
And what is Skijoring you may ask? Well, Skijor (Ski-Jur) is a Norwegian word that means “Ski Driving”. It all started with the use of horses or reindeer, but nowadays people put on a pair of cross-country skis, tie a tug line around their waist, and then start pulling their dog(s) in harnesses. What was once a type of sport that was limited to only certain breeds of sled dogs is now a sport that almost any breed of dog can participate in and enjoy.
To get started with this fun activity, you won’t need a lot of expensive gear or any special start-up supplies. However, there are specific harnesses that the dog is required to wear in order to ensure both their own safety and yours. A belt and a lengthy tug line are what connect you to the dog in this scenario. You only need some boots for your dog’s feet and your cross-country skis to be ready for your outing.
The minimum weight requirement for a dog is approximately 35 pounds, but you can harness more than one dog at a time. Additionally, it is beneficial to have dogs that are enthusiastic about running. It is possible to receive professional instruction, which is also strongly recommended. You can do research on the internet or look into the local Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, or Mushing clubs in your area to see if they hold any local competitions. These are all excellent resources. Skijoring can be done at a recreational level, which you and your dog may find more enjoyable. Skijoring does not have to be done at a professional or competitive level.
Going to a competition will give you the opportunity to watch skijoring in action and put you in contact with other people who participate in this sport on a regular basis. They might be able to point you in the direction of appropriate equipment, training methods, and instructions on how to collaborate effectively with your dog. It should come as no surprise that there is a requirement for cooperation between teams, along with a certain amount of familiarity and trust. You should by no means attempt to put a harness on a dog that has not been properly prepared.
Aside from that, there are particular training terms that are used to direct the dogs, such as “Gee” (which means turn right), “Haw” (which means turn left), “On By” (which means leave the distraction alone), and “Whoa” (stop).
You should also think about getting your pet used to walking in the snow and spending time outside in the cold for short periods of time at first, and then gradually increasing the amount of time they spend in these environments. It is imperative that you do not inflict any harm on their feet. If you have a breed of dog that does not have excess fur between its pads, using doggie boots is probably also a good idea. This is especially true if you live in a colder climate. If your dog does not have a natural double coat or fur that is longer than average, they may also need a coat.
There is a lot of information available on this rapidly growing sport, and if it sounds like something that you and your dog might enjoy trying, you should go and gather the information, then get your skis out, and have some fun during the winter.
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