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How to Go Skijoring

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Skijoring is the sport of being pulled on cross country skis by a dog or dogs in harness - it's a combination of dog sledding and cross country skiing. Here's how to go recreational skijoring.
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: Varies - effort is required

Here's How:

  1. You need to purchase cross country skiing equipment, if you don't already own cross country skis, boots, and poles.
  2. You need to own or borrow a large or medium-sized dog that is in good health. Your dog should be at least 30-35 pounds in order to pull you without excessive strain on the dog.
  3. You need an obedient dog who likes to run. Serious skijorers use code words like, "Hike!" which means "Let's go" and "Whoa" which means stop. Skijoring lessons are a good idea if you want more training or if you need help with your dog.
  4. In order to skijore safely, you will need a special skijoring harness for your dog, a skijoring belt for you, and a tugline that will attach you to your dog. Read the skijoring tips below for information about purchasing these necessary items.
  5. You'll need a place to skijor. Ask a cross country ski resort in your area if they allow skijoring. Other possibilities include relatively flat hiking/walking trails, a field, a park, or even your backyard. However, before you go, make sure that skijoring is allowed.
  6. Once you have the necessary equipment and you're sure that skijoring is allowed, make the trip to the location where you've planned to skijore out. Remember that bringing a partner or a friend is a good idea to help you get started.
  7. When you're at your skijoring location, harness your dog. Don't expect your dog to just start running. Have your partner carry food that interests your dog, show the treats to your dog, and then start running while encouraging your dog. When your dog starts running, say "Hike!," "Go!," or "Let's Go!," very loudly or clearly.
  8. When you want your dog to stop, pull on the tugline and say "Whoa" very clearly and loudly. At the same time, have your partner attempt to stop your dog. This is an important command.
  9. Practice this routine often - at least three times a week. Soon, you won't need your partner's help.
  10. Remember, there are other, more complicated commands that your dog can (and should) learn. It's a good idea to enlist the help of a professional skijoring trainer when you want to start skijoring on a more serious level - training is always a good idea. Read the tips below for resources on finding a trainer or skijoring lessons.

Tips:

  1. If you need skijoring equipment, Skijornow.com and Gearfordogs.com are great sources.
  2. For more about training and for more skijoring information, visit Skijor.com.
  3. To find skijoring lessons in an area near you, ask local cross country skiing if they know of anyone. You can even inquire at an alpine ski resort. Check your phone book, too. Don't forget about the internet, too! Use search engines and browse for lessons near you.
  4. Read more about skijoring from Gonewengland.about.com .

What You Need

  • Cross country ski equipment
  • A non-aggressive, obedient, 30 lb+ dog
  • Skijoring belt
  • Skijoring tugline
  • Skijoring dog harness
  • A partner
  • Skijoring lessons or training (Optional)
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