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Urban Mushing And Central Oregon Vacation: Learn To Dog Sled Or Learn About Urban Mushing

Updated on December 23, 2012

Central Oregon Vacation Learn Mushing

A Central Oregon vacation can offer many things but one activity you might want to try is dog sledding or urban mushing. Urban mushing is actually the same as dog sledding only without the dog sled and a scooter instead! Central Oregon just so happens to have the best teacher around for dog sledding or urban mushing on a Central Oregon vacation with any breed.  Karen Yeargain is happy to share her dog sledding techniques that you may apply here in Central Oregon, Anyplace USA or worldwide.

Tumnatki Siberians is the best kennel in Central Oregon for acquiring a Siberian husky or urban mushing and dog sledding equipment.  Karen Yeargain can teach you all you need to know about dog sledding, urban mushing or dog scootering and get you started in methodology you will understand and find easy to apply here in Central Oregon or back home.

A Central Oregon vacation involving urban mushing/dog scootering or dog sledding can acquaint you with the mechanics and equipment necessary via individual lesson or group lesson in dog sledding and urban mushing/dog scootering and you can even order all the equipment necessary from her. See her website above at Tumnatki Siberians for more details.

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   Sheer power - pictures by audrey kirchner  Kirchner runners - Alaskan malamutes
   Sheer power - pictures by audrey kirchner
Sheer power - pictures by audrey kirchner
  Kirchner runners - Alaskan malamutes
Kirchner runners - Alaskan malamutes

Dog Sledding in Central Oregon on Vacation and At Home

Central Oregon is a great place to vacation in winter because of the many venues for dog sledding. Even if you haven't done dog sledding before, Central Oregon is the perfect place to get a glimpse of this wonderful sport. All the principles of dog sledding fortunately also apply to the summertime version of dog sledding here in Central Oregon - urban mushing or dog scootering.

Likewise, all the elements of dog sledding can be readily transferred to skijoring (basically dog sledding on cross country skis) in Central Oregon on vacation or on your own. They also can be applied to daily life wherever you live, not just on vacation here in Central Oregon. There is also bikejoring,again applying all the principles of dog sledding. Bikejoring involves dogs pulling you on a bike rather than on a scooter.

The equipment for dog sledding, urban mushing, dog scooter, bikejoring, skijoring, carting, etc. is basically the same. For dog sledding, whether in Central Oregon or another snow locale, you need a kick sled or a small stand-on sled.

For urban mushing, the most common vehicle of choice is a Diggler scooter, which you can order through Tumnatki Siberians. There are many different variations of the Diggler scooter and you will have the chance to see which scooter would most suit your need, your dogs, and your pocketbook.

Dog sledding and urban mushing/scootering, or dog carting are sports that you can do with any breed dog. Some of the fastest breeds of course are the Siberian husky and Alaskan husky, while malamutes are very good at it but proceed at a more sedate pace. The Siberian husky is built for speed as is the Alaskan husky, whereas the Alaskan malamute is built for load and strength, not speed.

Just because you have another breed though - labs do urban mushing and dog sledding, shepherds do it, hounds do it, border collies do it - again there is no limit as far as where you live or what breed the dog is, though the dog does need to be medium sized and above. Most recommended is running dogs on dirt surfaces rather than pavement for long periods of time. Forestry service roads are great or any other surface with 'give'.

Urban mushing as an adjunct to dog sledding is becoming perhaps the most popular way to exercise dogs of all breeds in cities across the country. It is not a unique sport to Central Oregon. However, Karen teaches in such a way that people feel at ease running their dogs in this fashion and she is one of the best teachers I have ever encountered. Moreover, she totally understands dogs and what motivates them to run while maintaining the individuality of their breed!

And yes, for those competitive folks out there, there are many races you can enter once you train your dogs regarding mushing on any level.

Before The Run

Let's Go Girls!

Central Oregon Dog Sledding and Urban Mushing Equipment

Basically for dog sledding or urban mushing in Central Oregon or anywhere USA you would need the following:

  • Kick sled, scooter (preferably Diggler), cross country skis, dog cart, bike or even roller blades
  • Pulling harness for each dog made specifically for pull activities (Taiga recommended)
  • Lead line which keeps your dog(s) hooked out in front of you
  • Line or chain that hooks scooter to vehicle while getting dogs in harness/onto lead line (this keeps the dogs from taking off with the scooter or sled while you are getting ready)
  • Water for dogs!!
  • Helmet for human (optional)
  • Knee and elbow pads human (optional)

Whatever you need in terms of equipment, Tumnatki Siberians can get for you or recommend where you can order yourself although there are other websites available.

The 4 videos contained in this hub are all produced by Audrey Kirchner from a scootering outing in Sisters, Oregon May 1, 2010.  This delineates from start to finish what is involved.

On By

Dog Sledding and Urban Mushing Terms

  • Go /Let’s go – Start pulling or get going faster
  • Hike or Hike-Hike – Get going
  • Mush – (although I’ve never heard anyone use this) Get going
  • Haw – Turning left
  • Gee – Turning right
  • Easy – Take it easy and slow down (say it eeeeassssy)
  • Whoa – or WHOOOOOOAAAAA – Stop and stop NOW
  • Leave it – Quit messing with that thing you just spied or want to go after and keep your attention on the road (issue this command firmly and loudly)
  • On by – Used when passing people, dogs, or teams – means leave them alone and keep on going
  • Straight ahead – Same thing as on by but takes longer to say it
  • Line out – Face forward on the line and keep it straight and tight – with more than 2 dogs, tangles in the line can occur so it is important for lead dogs to know this command - usually for 1 or 2 dogs - not so important
  • Tighten up - Means move closer together or can mean line out for 2 dogs
  • Gee over – Move over to the right side of the road
  • Haw over – Move over to the left side of the road
  • Over - If running down the middle of a road, sometimes important to get them to one side or the other but gee and haw works better combined with over
  • Come gee – Make a U-turn to the right – this is a very advanced command
  • Come haw – Make a U-turn to the left – this is a very advanced command
  • NO!!! – The usual meaning - knock it off and now!
  • Other swear words and adjectives in any language to denote how you are feeling about your run at the moment and what they are doing!  Oddly they seem to translate well to dogspeak! 

More info and mushing terms courtesy of and Audrey Kirchner been there, done that

These commands can also be worked into 'casual training' while you have your dogs out and about - especially reinforces when they are in harness.


3 Miles Later

Summing Up A Great Central Oregon Vacation Idea

If you ever wanted to try something that involves mushing or dog sledding, here's your chance to learn from one of the best teachers! If you are ever in Central Oregon on vacation or just passing through, it is well worth the instruction to learn from a pro.

Even if you are not in Central Oregon and want to learn about dog sledding or urban mushing, contact Karen and she will either give you helpful advice or direct you to someone who might be able to provide you with information.

Urban mushing, whether it is in Central Oregon or sunny California, is a great way to exercise your dogs - as is dog sledding or some of the other sports mentioned above.

Do take the time to do it properly, however, because it can be dangerous to you and your dogs if you don't know the proper techniques, equipment, etc. 

Especially for Nordic breeds, it is advised  not to run them when temps are over 60 degrees, so have a care and try to run them before the thermometer hits 60!

Have a care as well running them on pavement - if you take off your shoes and it is too hot for YOUR feet, it is too hot for their feet. 

Running in snowy conditions, if there is severe ice spiking, booties are a good idea for the dogs.

Happy mushing!


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Nell for commenting - it is so much doggone fun! I only wish I could ride on the scooter again but probably not a good idea....they truly do love it and if the noise in the 'yard' where they take off from doesn't say it all, I guess nothing else could. All of them just have the best time - great to watch and be a part of.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      10 years ago from England

      Hi, Audrey, this is great, I read all the hees and haws! You always make it so enjoyable, I have to watch the videos about three times each! I am glad you said over medium size dogs, I was imagining me with a poodle! ha ha only joking! That is about the size I would be brave enough to use. Your dogs always look smiley when they have finished, so you are doing something right! nice one. Thanks nell

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Katie - it is a wonderful place. We fell in love with it many, many years ago and are happy that we moved here! Great on the chow - he'd probably totally enjoy urban mushing! I know ours do - they are not the fastest breed in the yard but they do truly enjoy. Griff is only 11 months old so he is only allowed to 'trot' - no loping or galloping yet and I have a feeling come about Thanksgiving when he IS allowed to put the pedal to the metal, we are going to really have some vids! Thanks for your kind comments as always.

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      How exciting, I would love to experience this, I have a chow who's a prince and so loving and loyal, I think he'd sled to the end of the earth. He loves the cold, snow and I named him dozer because I got him in the winter and as a puppy he loved to shove the snow around and run his head deep into it... DOGS are just a special treasure. I really enjoyed reading the Central Oregon Vacation Journal you've shared it's fantastic plus the amazing videos, this is such a great place to visit and feel as if you've been there. Fantastic WORK or should I say labor of love no doubt! Peace :)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      But of course! Griffin would be happy to demonstrate and mostly what not to do like run into the gorkin-##$$ for a quick pee while Bob is riding on the scooter! Thanks for commenting, Holle - I'll hold you to bringing those Danes out for a lesson.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Great hub and pics! Wonder if I could teach the Danes??

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Oh yes - please do!! Practice I mean but try it - you'll become addicted....just like us I imagine. I'm so proud of Bob for manning the scooter since I've been banned from doing it and have to be satisfied with just being the mountain bike 'spotter' or the videographer/photographer. It is so fun to watch them though - especially my babies but then the siberians are just hysterical! They are racers as Karen goes all over the place competing with hers and she always has Bob run 2 of hers before we head out after ours have run their run. He says every time 'there is NO WAY you could hold these dogs, Audrey' - I think I get the picture! Of course we all know what a graceful lump I am anyhow so I just smile sweetly and say 'I wouldn't even try, Big Guy!' Thanks so much for commenting...I know you love these guys!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image


      10 years ago from Holly, MI

      Oh my! know I was super excited to read this hub! LOVE this hub and this wonderful information! I MUST get my dogs a sled this winter to practice in the yard before we try to venture out in traffic.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Well, I hate to tell ya but I'm almost 57 - and the young buck (my hubby Bob) on that scooter is 64 today! We are out of our minds granted - but we sure have a hell of a time doing it! I have been demoted, however, to videographer and camera person extraordinaire because I took a tumble from the dang scooter a few years ago and suffered whiplash, road rash and have a herniated disk - oh well - now I am the mountain bike 'spotter' and as above...sigh - but it still is a lot of fun to watch and participate. Bob does well with everything I taught him (mostly what NOT to do).....oy vey.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      10 years ago from UK

      Who would have thought it! :-) I fI wasn't 62, I would be tempted to try this :-)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for commenting, drbj! It is surprising but you may find that folks are doing it somewhere nearby - it has become quite the rage...or maybe it will become all the rage in south Florida. There are all different levels of it I understand and some folks are highly competitive with their dogs, going to races, etc. We just do it for the malamutes because they love it and we love to see them happy and in their element.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      10 years ago from south Florida

      The stuff you can learn on these hubs is mind-bending. Thanks for educating me about urban mushing - a term that I had never heard before. Guess it's because very little, in fact, absolutely none goes on here in south Florida. But it does sound like fun.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Darlene - any time girl friend! Would love to share my beautiful babies with the world. They are so wonderful - I only wish I was at least 20 or 30 years younger. Now I am confined to being the videographer and photographer and the 'bike woman' - instead of the scooter woman but oh well.

      Thanks ladies for your lovely comments~!

      Sandy - thanks so much for commenting as well - yes we have all kinds of sledding and mushing here in Oregon. We also have the legally blind girl about 10 miles from where we live who mushed in the Iditarod twice so far! Amazing folks here.

      BkCreative - thanks for commenting as well. It really doesn't matter what the terms are - I have used a bunch (some of them should not be repeated) - especially when I roller bladed with my now departed dear Kodi dog. It is all about the rush I guess in seeing these dogs run or in my case, I love HEARING them run. Even on the mountain bike, I ride beside them and their breathing and their running pace just thrill me. I'm not sure, however, I could possibly keep up with Karen's Siberians! Bob says when he lets her take a couple of hers for a loop after ours are all done and spent, he can barely hold them back! As you can see in the photos, they 'dig' and go for it from the get-go. Again, if I was 20-30 years younger, I somehow can see myself like Karen, driving all over heck and gone racing dogs. Thankfully, I'm old and just have to settle for enjoying my own...and being behind the camera.

    • BkCreative profile image


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Well, this is certainly different and unique, with an element of falling down, which means I want to try it. Of course I would have been yelling 'mush' all over the place so I am glad you pointed out it is not commonly heard.

      What an interesting hub. Thanks for putting together a ton of information. I am so totally prepared. Rated up, for sure!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Didn't know there was dog sledding in Oregon. Nice hub.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      10 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      How awesome is this, you are so very lucky, love your hub and your passion for your wonderful dogs and what a great life they have with you. Thumbs up and I can't wait to come visit.


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