Looking for a winter activity for you and your dog? How about Skijoring? If it sounds European, that’s because it is!
Derived from the Norwegian word for “ski-driving”, Skijoring (pronounced skee-johr-ing) is a popular competitive sport in Scandinavia, where dogs and their people have been “skiing” together for generations.
Canada’s snowy climate makes it a natural for this exciting winter sport, which involves harnessing yourself to a dog or two, and hitting the cross-country trails in style. While some dogs seem to have a natural inclination for this kind of winter exercise, any dog over 30 pounds can participate. And don’t fret if you’re not a great skier. You can learn as you go. For beginners, start out on well-groomed trails with a fair amount of space. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can advance to backcountry trails. Since you can work your way up to quite a speed, it’s important your dog is well-trained, and listens to your directions.
What you’ll need
- A Skijoring belt, which hooks to a quick-release line. The Skijoring line has an internal bungee at one end that absorbs the shock when you start out, or if you fall.
- An x-back harness for each dog. The quick-release line attaches to this.
- Cross-country skis. Beginners can use regular track skis, while more advanced Skijorers use skate skis for speed or back country skis for off-trail adventures.
- Doggie equipment. Depending on your dog’s breed, you may wish to outfit him with properly-fitted dog boots to protect his pads on the trail. If it’s particularly cold, you may consider a lightweight coat.
- Water and a collapsible bowl for breaks along the trail.
For more information, check out one of the regional organizations by googling your area, and catch some videos on youtube.com. There are several online stores that offer equipment.