1. Welcome to Game Dog Forum

    You are currently viewing our forum as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

    If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us.

    Dismiss Notice

Dogs and their humans learn the wintry craft of skijoring

Discussion in 'Sports & Activities' started by Vicki, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator Staff Member

    January 11, 2014 7:15 pm • By Alice Miller

    Any dog weighing more than 30 pounds will do, if you’re looking for a pooch to pull you on cross-country skis.

    “You name it, if a dog wants to pull, he can do it,” Pam Beckstrom said in encouraging would-be skijoring enthusiasts at a clinic Saturday at Missoula’s Currents Aquatics Center.

    “My goal is to hopefully take this around the state and get people interested,” said Beckstrom, who owns a skijoring equipment company.

    “Given the turnout today, I think we’ll probably try to do this again,” she added.

    Skijoring is a way to exercise people and dogs in the winter, Beckstrom said.

    Jennifer Anthony said the sport seems ideal for exercising her energetic two-year-old Karelian bear dog.

    “I have a dog with a lot of energy that I need to burn off as much as possible,” she said.

    After the clinic, Anthony said she’s excited to try the sport, although she has lots of training to do. “It sounds like it might be next winter before I actually get on skis with her.”

    Skijoring seems like a perfect winter activity for herself and her two dogs, Ann Rollins said.

    Already, Rollins has skijoring gear, but the dogs often have different ideas of what direction they want to go when she hooks them up for hiking excursions.

    “I’ve got to teach them somehow to go straight,” she said.

    Ultimately, skijoring should be fun for dogs and their owners, Beckstrom said.

    To get started, people need to make sure their dogs have properly fitting harnesses while they have bungees, tug lines and a belt. Boots also help protect dogs’ paws and provide extra traction on icy trails.

    A coupler will keep two dogs in line.

    “If you’re running two dogs, they do have to get along,” Beckstrom cautioned.

    On groomed trails, skate skis work well, while classic skis are good for non-groomed trails. People can even do backcountry on telemark skis, although metal edges are not recommended for the safety of the dogs, said Colette Whelan, who skijors and helped with the clinic.

    “It feels very vulnerable the first couple times you do it,” Whelan said, adding that people should be comfortable on skis before attaching dogs.

    To avoid running into the dogs, make sure to know how to ski to the side, side fall, snowplow or hockey stop, she said.

    Basic commands such as getting a dog’s attention by saying their name, “stay” and “wait” must be mastered before you attach skier to canine, said Nicki Arndt, who trains dogs and also helped with the clinic.

    “Being on your skis with your dog is not a training moment,” she said, stressing that people should do ground work with dogs before hooking up with skis.

    Make sure to condition slowly so you and your dog don’t get injured, Whelan said.

    Most importantly, know your dog and what’s normal to avoid dehydration and injuries, she said.

    Stay off hard surfaces and make sure dogs get enough fat and protein in their diet, she added.

    If skiing isn’t your thing, you can still use skijoring equipment for hiking, running or biking, Beckstrom said. “You can do four seasons with dogs now.”

    To get connected with other skijorers or to learn more, check out Montana Mountain Mushers.

    Dogs and their humans learn the wintry craft of skijoring
  2. SureGrip

    SureGrip Pup

    Skijoring is my main conditioning exercise I do with my boy during the cold winter months, its good for him and good for me. We will do anywhere from 6 - 8 miles a couple of times a week, followed by a walk in the evening and round of springpole in the basement. I found skijoring will do way more for your dog then pulling a heavily weighted sled interms of strength and overall conditioning.
  3. SteelyDan

    SteelyDan Big Dog

    Very interesting exercise. Post some vids suregrip. Id like to see a bulldog doing thiss. Do you protect the pads with some boots or something applied to them?
  4. SureGrip

    SureGrip Pup

    I'll post a picture or two next time I go out with him if you like but I have no video camera right now. You can get mushers wax for there feet but I'm not sold on the stuff and have not yet really had any problems so far, you still have to manage there feet though. The snow has lower impact on there feet and joints when compared to pavement or other hard surfaces, making it a great pulling exercise for your dog. I know in the summer when I rollerblade with him I have to be careful of his feet and hips from running on the pavement but with skijoring you don't really have to worry about that.

Share This Page