What Is Skijoring? Everything You Need To Know About Dog Skijoring

Skijoring - Neewa

Skijoring is an exciting sport where your dog pulls you on skis! Want to know more? Keep reading for the Neewadogs.com guide to skijoring.

Skijoring is a sport that originated in Norway and involves a person on skis being pulled along by animals, which tend to be either horses or dogs. Skijoring can be enjoyed as a leisure activity or competitive sport with fully-trained dogs.

Training for skijoring dogs involves resistance, speed, and obedience training. You will need a dog harness, a skijoring belt, a tug line, dog boots, and ski equipment to start skijoring.

Sound like your cup of tea? Keep reading for all the answers regarding skijoring - what equipment you'll need, how to find training resources, and more!

Understanding Skijoring Now

Country skiing is a fun activity enjoyed by many. But, what if you could bring your furry companion along to enjoy the action with you?

What is Skijoring?

Skijoring comes from the Norweigan word skikjøring, or 'ski driving', which refers to the sport of skiing using your dogs to pull you along. The sport is like sledding, only with skis instead of a sled. So, if you don't have a team of sled dogs to band together and enjoy mushing, you should try skijoring instead!

Performed on flat ground, skijoring is much like cross country skiing, only with a bit of help from a canine companion. Competitive skijoring takes place worldwide and is becoming increasingly popular in the US.

Skijoring can be practiced with one dog or use many dogs. Skijoring can be done comfortably for up to 3 dogs, and you will be able to go much faster on longer routes if the dogs are pulling less weight. Your weight should factor into how many dogs you use, as if you are pretty light, you may find yourself traveling too fast for comfort with many dogs.

Things That Make You Love Skijoring

If you love cross country skiing, you will love skijoring. With your cross-country ski equipment, you can provide stimulating exercise for your dog to challenge them mentally and physically. If you have a restless high-energy dog, skijoring can offer a fantastic outlet for all of your dog's energy! Plus, you get to experience nature at its finest, with the beauty of a winter landscape for you and your dog to enjoy.

Questions About Skijoring Dogs

Initially, people have questions regarding whether skijoring dogs are cruelty-free and whether they would be able to train their own dogs to participate in a skijoring race or cross-country skiing. Let's dive in and address some of these queries.

Is Skijoring Cruelty-Free?

For canine safety reasons, Skijoring organizations only recommend skijoring for dogs that weigh over 35 pounds. For smaller and medium-sized dogs, the sport may be considered cruel as the dog does not have the strength to pull you too far.

So long as you provide the proper equipment for your dog and naturally enjoy running, skijoring can be an extremely enjoyable activity for them! Dog skijoring practiced safely and ethically is cruelty-free and can have numerous benefits for your dog, improving their quality of life and mental wellbeing.

You must ensure that your dog does not mind cold weather before starting this practice with them, as if they are uncomfortable in cold climates, you could be subjecting your dog to cruelty by forcing them to participate in winter sport.

How Much Weight Can a Dog Pull When Skijoring?

Dogs can usually pull up to 3 or 4 times their body weight. However, much like human weight training practices, dogs should get started on lighter weights to build up their strength safely and ethically (you don't start off squatting 100kg at the gym, after all!). So, it's ideal to introduce dog skijoring to your dog slowly, building up their strength and stamina.

Skijoring Dogs' Diet and Training Explained  

To begin skijoring with your dog, you must first evaluate whether they would enjoy skijoring, based on their size, whether they like the cold, and their running and pulling ability. Your dog should have basic obedience training before you begin training them for skijoring. Then, you can introduce skijoring commands to them to start the training process. Some examples of skijoring orders include:

  • Line-out: This command instructs your dog to pull the tug line taught before you begin your skijoring races or training.
  • Hike: This is the command that instructs your dog to start pulling, or to 'go'.
  • Easy: This is the command you should use to slow your dog down.
  • Whoa: This command instructs your dog to stop.
  • Haw: This command instructs your dog to veer left.
  • Gee: This command tells your dog to veer right.
  • On-by: This command is similar to the command 'leave it', and should be used to stop your dog from becoming distracted.

You can use your own words in place of these commands if you find it more manageable.

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Snow dog boots

What Do You Need to Know About Dog Skijoring Harness and Equipment?

If skijoring seems like a good fit for your dog, you can start to look at skijoring harnesses and equipment for your skijoring races and training. If you already cross country ski, you will have all the equipment you need to begin this activity and will only need to invest in equipment for your dog. If not, you will need to look at cross-country skiing equipment to get started.

Dog Skijoring Harnesses

Dog skijoring harnesses are similar to those used for dog sledding and bikejoring. You will need to evaluate which harness is best suited for your dog's size, and the trails you plan to go down with your dog while skijoring. You cannot use a standard harness for dog skijoring, as skijoring harnesses distribute the pressure of your weight evenly across the dog's body and allow them to breathe unrestricted.

Skijoring Equipment

When it comes to skijoring equipment, you will need to invest in the following dog skijoring accessories:

  • Dog boots - when your dog's feet are exposed to snow and ice for long periods, this can cause the fur between their toes to become frozen, which causes unpleasant pulling that could be painful for your dog. Also, there may be sharp rocks or twigs on your route that could cause your dog to sustain an injury. So, it's best to be on the safe side and invest in dog boots to keep your dog comfortable.
  • A tug line - tug lines work well for skijoring races and training, and bungee tug lines can prevent strong pulls from causing you or your dog to lose balance. You can invest in tug lines that accommodate one to three dogs if you plan to take a dog team with you when skijoring. Tug lines come with snap clips that allow you to easily detach from your dog in an emergency to prevent accident or injury.
  • A harness - a skijoring harness is required to make this activity more enjoyable for your dog, eliminating the possibility of back pain or discomfort. Your dog will be able to breathe easily and pull without injury.
  • A waist belt - a dog skijoring waist belt is what attaches your body to your dog and allows you to be dragged along by your dog. Your waist belt should be comfortable to enable you to practice skijoring with your dog for long periods without pain or discomfort. Consider investing in the Neewa skijoring waist belt for enhanced comfort while enjoying this sport with your dog.

Tips For Choosing the Best Dog Equipment and Harnesses for Skijoring

When choosing skijoring equipment for you and your dog, there are specific tips you can use to ensure that the equipment you invest in will be right for you and your dog.

Tip #1: Analyze the Context and the Needs of Your Dog

When choosing a skijoring harness for your dog, you must consider your dog's size and the routes you will be taking. Some racing harnesses are designed to optimize your dog's speed on straight paths, which will not be ideal if you plan to take a trail that involves a lot of turns and bends.

Additionally, some dog sledding harnesses are designed to suit the needs of sledding dogs like Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes and so may not suit the shape and size of your dog's body.

If your dog is hard of hearing or your voice does not carry well, you may consider investing in a shorter tug line that will allow you to better communicate with your dog while you participate in this winter sport.

To participate in skijoring, you must have a good relationship with your dog and have confidence in their ability to listen to your commands. If your dog isn't well-trained and doesn't have basic obedience skills, then skijoring could result in either you or your dog becoming injured.

Tip #2: See How Your Needs Fit With the Needs of Your Dog When Practicing Skijoring 

Your dog's safety and comfort should be a priority when skijoring. However, you must also invest in equipment that will ensure your comfort.

Both you and your dog must have a whale of a time while you are out skijoring for fun or competitively. So, if you are planning to use two or more dogs for skijoring, but they lose focus when paired together, consider practicing the sport with each dog individually and then pairing your dogs together with a two-dog tug line.

If cross country skiing isn't right for you, you would love to participate in dog sports; consider whether you could start dog sledding, bikejoring, or canicross with your dog. If you're unable to stand for long periods, you can use a bike to engage in pulling exercises with your dog. Or, if you and your dog do not like the cold, bikejoring and canicross make an excellent activity for you to perform together.

Tip #3: Make The Best Choice

Finding the right sport to suit your dog's needs is essential, but once you have determined which activity will be best, you can begin to bond with your dog and work together as a team. The best choice for you and your dog is ultimately the activity you will both enjoy, so consider your dog's likes and dislikes alongside your own to make the right decision.

With this fun and thrilling sport, you and your dog can improve your teamwork and synchronicity.

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Summary

If you're a lover of cross country skiing and winter sports, you'll love skijoring. With the right equipment and proper training, you and your dog can work together to navigate snowy trails and gain some speed! This Norwegian sport is becoming increasingly popular in the US, and you and your dog may just have what it takes to win a skijoring race!

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