teach your dog to skijor

How to Safely Train Your Dog for Skijoring

Many dog owners treat their dogs more like family than like pets, including them in every activity they engage in. While there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy with your dog during the summer, your options may be a little more limited in the winter. If you’re looking for a way to keep your dog active during the winter months, consider skijoring.

What is Skijoring

The word skijoring translates to “ski driving” in Norwegian and it is basically a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding. Essentially, you put your dog in a harness and clip it to a rope or towline that is connected to a harness you are wearing. Then, you engage in cross country skiing as your dog helps to pull you along. You can do this activity with one dog or with an entire team of dogs as long as they are large enough, strong enough, and have enough stamina for the activity. Generally speaking, a dog needs to weigh at least 35 pounds to safely engage in this activity – you also need a certain degree of fitness and skill.

Preparing Your Dog and Training

If you’re thinking about trying skijoring with your dog, there are some preparations you need to make before you get into the actual training. First, make sure that your dog is a good fit for the activity. Any breed of dog can engage in skijoring as long as they weigh over 35 pounds and are in good physical shape. Some of the Northern breeds like Huskies and Malamutes tend to be better for this type of activity, though any dog that loves to run can learn how to skijor. Before you start training, have your dog checked out by the vet to make sure he is old enough, strong enough, and healthy enough to engage in this type of rigorous activity. When you are ready for training, here are some tips to follow:

  • Take some time to get your dog used to wearing the harness by using it on your daily walks – use treats and praise to encourage him to walk calmly on the leash.
  • Start tethering your dog to your harness during walks so he gets used to walking on a hands-free leash – you can also do some jogging with him so he learns how the harness feels at higher speeds.
  • When your dog is ready, start off slowly with a short jaunt and prevent your dog from going too fast – he needs to learn what it feels like to pull your bodyweight and he’ll need to build up his own physical fitness.
  • Gradually increase the duration of your skijoring trips as your dog gets stronger and more fit.
  • As your dog gets better, you can try experimenting with two or more dogs rather than your dog alone.

Training your dog for skijoring is by no means difficult, but it does require a certain degree of patience and a good bit of time. The more slowly you progress, the better – you want your dog to be in good shape for the activity before you start doing it for long periods of time.

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