Dog Sports And Dog Running: Skijoring, Bikejoring And Dog Scootering
URBAN MUSHING - BIKEJORING, SKIJORING AND DOG SCOOTERING
If you're looking for a dog sport you can perform many ways and in many different places, you should check out urban mushing or dryland mushing as it's called by many.
Especially if you have dogs that are full of energy and that need to be exercised, urban mushing in the form of one of these great dog sports will give you a "new leash on life".
Dog running and dog sports are becoming very popular around the world. For the expert urban musher, you can enter contests globally. Or you can have experts come host a clinic in urban mushing in your city or town.
You can also learn how to urban mush your dogs on your own for all these dog sports like bikejoring, skijoring, or dog scootering and with a little practice, exercise yourself and your dog!
Some of the great things about urban mushing:
- Burns off excess energy (dogs need at least 30 minutes of solid exercise per day)
- Keeps dog healthy and fit
- You can do it with 1 dog or several dogs
- Just about any dog can participate no matter what size dog
- Keeps you healthy and fit
Let's take a look at these 3 dog sports individually to get an idea of how they are similar yet how they are different. All do employ the same basic principles and are all ways dog sledders train their dogs when not actively sledding.
URBAN MUSHING COMMANDS
It is not mandatory to teach your dog these commands verbatim but the principle of the command needs to be clearly taught before ever attempting any of these dog sports.
It is not so much a matter of verbiage but of dogs obeying the commands without fail. This ensures that you will have a positive experience.
These are just the basic commands. Add in commands that apply in your own situation but remember to train on foot with your dog or dogs before attempting the "real deal".
Turn or go right
Turn or go left
"Hike" or "Let's go"
Ignore something and keep going
Move to side of path or road
Stop what you are doing
METHOD #1 - BIKEJORING
- Parks or park trails
- Dirt roads
- Back country
- Well maintained bike preferably a mountain bike
- Pulling harness for each dog (X-back)
- Gangline or towline (some have a bungee attachment)
- Neckline if using more than 1 dog
- Bayonet, antenna or plastic pipe attached to bike to keep towline from tangling in wheel
- Booties for dogs if running on uneven or rocky surfaces
- Helmet for human passenger
- Pads and other biking gear
The towline is connected to the bike frame (never attach to handlebars or have line held by handlebars).
Dogs must know commands before attempting this dog sport to be successful.
Bikejoring is a cooperative effort between dog and human where the dog pulls to its heart's content while the human counterpart pedals the bike.
This dog sport is used often to train sled dogs in the off season and is a great way to train dogs to skijor or scooter as all concepts are basically the same.
Dangers of bikejoring:
- Running on pavement is bad for dogs as it impacts their bones and joints in an unfavorable way
- Heat from pavement can burn dogs' paws and do irreparable damage to their feet
- Falling on pavement is a definite hazard for the bike rider
- Cars and other vehicles can create distractions and obstacles for
bikejoring (only bikejor in appropriate areas relatively free from distraction and traffic)
- Wildlife can appear out of nowhere and dogs can give chase
- Passing other dogs or leaving at the same time as other dog teams can present some logistic problems as well as interaction problems with dogs. To avoid this, let one team go ahead and get some way out, then let another team go.
- The dogs must be trained on foot before attempting this dog sport. Dogs should be trained in the proper commands and should be able to be under control at all times before getting on a bike with dogs attached.
METHOD #2 - SKIJORING
- Dog accessible winter trails
- Streets with enough snow that are safe
- Anywhere you can cross country ski and dogs are allowed
- Cross country skis - usually hot waxed tail to tip to increase speed
- Regular skis with grip wax for back country runs
- Gangline or towline usually with a bungee attachment to aid in sudden stops - at least 8 feet long though longer for 2 or 3 dogs.
- Properly fitted pulling harness for each dog (X-back)
- Booties for dogs' feet if running on icy roads or severe cold conditions
- Skier needs poles
- Special skijoring harness, rock climbing harness or ski belt. Ski belt clips around skier's belt and usually includes leg loops
- Quick release hitch or hook - optional but good idea
- Standard safety gear for cross country skiing
Skijoring is a dog sport that can be enjoyed by any breed dog as well. The skier is assisting the dog in forward motion. A classic diagonal stride cross country motion is used although many use the so-called fast skate skiing technique. The latter is almost always used for skijoring racers.
While the dog pulls, the skier assists by poling and skiing behind the dog or dogs.
Skijoring can be very challenging for "bad" dogs or dogs that are not good about listening to commands. As in the case of bikejoring, it is imperative for the urban musher to train the dog in all the proper commands before ever strapping on a pair of skis and heading out.
Skijoring competitions are held around the world and have divisions for men, women, 1-dog and 2-dog teams. However, competitors must demonstrate the health and fitness of their dogs to enter. Some dogs are not permitted to race due to age.
Dogs that cannot demonstrate the ability to pass other dogs or be passed by other dogs can be disqualified from running in races.
The "best" skijoring teams are ones with dogs who can pass an approaching team head on and have the dogs be oblivious to the other team.
Dangers of skijoring:
- Nipping dogs can lunge as they approach or pass your dogs
- Dogs can excitedly greet other dog teams and become entangled, distracted or get into dog fights
- Dogs can chase after wildlife if not properly trained
- They can veer from the trail into dangerous areas like partially frozen creeks, ponds, etc.
- It is possible to be a skier wrapped around a tree or other immovable object
Again, this is why it is imperative to train dogs on foot before ever
attempting this dog sport on skis. The more dogs that are used, the more dangerous this sport can be.
METHOD #3 - DOG SCOOTERING
- Dirt roads and paths
- Park trails where dogs are allowed
- Any soft dirt trail
- Some people dog scooter on pavement but it is not recommended due to the strain on bones and joints for the dog and heat that comes up from the pavement
- Kick scooter in proper working condition. Most people use scooters made strictly for dog scootering such as Digglers. They are built for mountainous terrain and are equipped with handbrakes.
- Gangline or towline usually with part of it a bungee cord
- Neckline if running more than 1 dog
- Pulling harness for each dog (X-back)
- Running shoes
- Helmet and pads for roller blading
- Booties for dogs' feet if running on pavement that is hot or uneven, jagged surfaces
If you watch the video on dog scootering, there is a demonstration of how you lay out your scooter and attach your dogs.
Most people attach their scooter to their car bumper with a sturdy line that will not snap while preparing the dogs for a run. This will prevent the dogs bounding away with the scooter before you have a chance to get on.
The dogs are then attached to the gangline and when ready, you release the scooter from your bumper, give the command and away you go.
The dog sport of dog scootering employs the dog or dogs' pulling from the chest while the human part of the team rides on the scooter. However, the human counterpart also "runs" part of the time on the scooter, thus the term kick scooter.
You are in effect pedaling with your foot/running in order to keep up (at times) with the dog. If you are running small dogs, you will be doing a lot of running!
The dog or dogs should be trained in harness behind the scooter before ever venturing out on the kick scooter for a ride.
Dangers of dog scootering:
Any time you are on the scooter, there is the possibility of losing your balance. If you happen to be running your dog or dogs on pavement, this can be very dangerous. Road rash is a common occurrence when people run dogs on pavement as well as broken bones and head injuries.
Remember that going 20-25 miles per hour is dangerous when you are balancing yourself on a scooter. For this reason, it is recommended that scootering be done on soft dirt roads and away from roads with gravel and/or rocks.
Dogs should be properly trained in commands and should not participate in dog scootering unless they are "ready" dogs, meaning they are going to participate heartily but not become distracted by everything and everyone.
One of the hazards of dog scootering is loose dogs. Dogs that are loose seem to be fascinated by running dogs and can attack or confront your dogs in the middle of running. This is another reason for dog scootering on "safe roads" such as private forestry roads or areas that have relatively little in the way of urban distractions.
Wildlife can be a hazard, as dogs will instinctively give chase or lunge at wildlife. Again, having command of your dog is a must for this dog sport if you want to be successful at it.
BIKEJORING, SKIJORING AND DOG SCOOTERING BREEDS
- Herding dogs
- Siberian Huskies
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Bull terriers
- Bull dogs
- Pit bulls
- Sled Hounds
- Just about any breed of dog!
THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT URBAN MUSHING
Any dog sport should be a fun sport and should be approached with that in mind.
Dog sports such as bikjoring, skijoring, and dog scootering are great ways to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Always remember to have plenty of water available for your exercising dog.
Take every safety precaution you can to ensure your safety as well as your dog's.
Remember to always pick up after your dog. Carry waste bags on all dog sport outings. It's the right thing to do.
Keep yourself in good physical condition if you plan on doing these dog sports. They can be quite strenuous and you will get a great workout in. Keep in mind your own ability for physical exercise before you start out participating in any of these 3 dog sports.
Take it slow and build up gradually. If you have trained your dog properly in any of these sports, they will be eager to get out and start mushing. However, don't try to accomplish long distances from the beginning. Gradually get to know your dog's stamina level and build on that.
All the skills from one dog sport to the other are transferable! They also extend to many other dog sports.
Dogs run best in temperatures 50 degrees and below. I have a dog trainer who says 60 and below is okay but if the dog is especially furry, probably best to keep it to 50 degrees. Early morning and late evening are great times to run. Dogs overheat quicker than humans so have a care with the outdoor temperature before running the dog.
A proper fitting harness is a must for these sports. You can special order X-back harnesses from any of the linked sites in this article simply by giving your dog's unique measurements.
Dogs need to pull from the chest rather than the neck or back thus making these types of harnesses (pull harnesses) the proper equipment.
Make sure the human part's equipment is in good shape and that you have the proper attire for any of these dog sports. Going helmetless seems to be popular but having had a concussion from hitting pavement while dog scootering, I would not recommend any of these sports without a helmet.
For those of you who would rather not have a gangline or towline attached or would like something more solid to run your dogs on, there are other options for urban mushing like:
- Small ATV's
- Walky Dog, Springer or Bikejor Converter (these allow 1 or 2 dogs to run beside your bike and attach to the bike itself)
Keep in mind that these are in fact sports and leisure activities. Have fun and watch your dog have fun. You won't believe what a ride you can have - literally!
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