This is one fun sport that can be done with one dog. You will certainly need THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT! Once your dog is trained and you are using the right, safe, equipment, one dog on well maintained trails can pull an adult, one in shape that is, for a few miles. The Sport in a Nutshell...A Harnessed Dog Pulling a Person Down the Trail as the Person is Skiing or Skating on Roller Skates (I suppose if your dog will run on ice, Ice Skates, I would not recommend this though).
First and Foremost, you NEED to be a strong Skier and or Skater LONG BEFORE you hook yourself up to a Harnessed Dog. Further, your dog needs to be well trained to pull and know the Sled Dog Commands before you hook up too. Seriously, there is toooo much that can go wrong on the trail when you are wearing Skis or Skates. When you are wearing Skis or Skates you will not have the ability to control your dog as you would wearing your shoes.
Your dog must be Trail Worthy. This means it is trust worthy on the trail with and about other people, dogs, other animals, anything or anyone you might run into. The "Whoa" and the "On By" commands being your most important and your dog MUST know these before you ever strap on Skis or tie on Skates. This means, as it does with any training, you start with shoes on, your dog on a leash and a lot of walking out on the trail. This means a lot of training, both with your dog, and you, building up your legs and arms for Skiing or Skating.
YOU ALONE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN AND YOUR DOG'S SAFETY WHEN TRAINING AND WORKING WITH YOUR DOG. WHILE WE GIVE IDEAS AND INFORMATION ON TRAINING AND HOW YOU MIGHT, WE ARE NOT THERE WITH YOU. WE DO NOT KNOW YOU OR YOUR DOG. WE CAN NOT SEE JUST HOW YOU ARE TRAINING. WE ARE NOT, WILL NOT BE HELD, RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU OR YOUR DOG. YOU ALONE SHOULD KEEP YOUR OWN AND YOUR DOG'S SAFETY AND HEALTH ABOVE ALL. YOUR DOG COUNTS ON YOU, DON'T LET IT DOWN!
You must have trails to work your dog on. (same is true if you are Skatejouring = Skijouring on roller skates, other than, of course, you would not want snow)
The trails must be:
1. Have a packed snow trail.
2. Must be free and away from other loose dogs.
3. If on another person's property, you must have permission to use it.
4. Hikers and Horses/Equine, ALWAYS have the right away. Others yield to them.
You MUST use the correct type of Dog Harness for this sport. NEVER, EVER, NEVER!, have your dog pull you by the collar on it's neck. This can be fatal to your dog.
A Recreational, Multipurpose, X-Back, Harness will work great. You want a Sled Dog type neck collar on the Dog Harness you use. The "D" type Harness, or the type with only a strap across the chest is not a safe harness to use for pulling. The Sled Dog type Dog Harness fits the dog so that the dog is always pulling from the chest. The one strap across the chest can ride up on the dog and choke it, or it can ride down on the dog's body and the dog and the strap will sit right between the dog's chest and where it's legs meet the body. This is uncomfortable and unsafe for the dog.
Your Dog Harness also needs to have proper Sled Dog Padding on the harness so that the webbing/leather does not rub the dog as it is working. The padding also gives the dog's body relief from pain from the webbing/leather digging into the dog's body as it works. (imagine carrying a heavy backpack with NO padding on the straps on your pack.....yes, ouch)
You might want to carry a few, up to four, Dog Booties that fit the dog you are working with properly. This way if the trail gets rough or if your dog injures it's foot, you are prepared.
I CAN NOT STRESS ENOUGH THE FACT THAT YOUR DOG SHOULD BE FULLY TRAINED TO PULL AND KNOW ALL THE SLED DOG COMMANDS BEFORE YOU EVER SKIJOR OR SKATEJOUR BEHIND THEM. WE CAN NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TRAINING YOU HAVE INTO YOUR DOG, OR LACK THERE OF. YOU ALONE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DOG'S TRAINING. IF YOU DO NOT TRAIN YOUR DOG WELL AND YOU BECOME HURT BECAUSE OF IT, PLEASE DO NOT BLAME THE DOG!
I highly recommend a Skijouring Belt with Leg Straps and a Quick Release Snap. Belts without the leg straps can and do ride up on your back and when the dog starts or if it takes off after something on the trail, the belt will, call it, "pop" tight and pull just a few of your vetibres.....not good. This is also why you want a wide waist belt. PROPER EQUIPMENT MATTERS!
Some people have and do use a Wooden Handle rather than hook themselves to the dogs with a belt. The handle is one as you would see with Water Skiers. I would recommend this type of set up for those new to skijouring so that they can become familiar to how it all works and feels before hooking in.
Skijouring Racing is not something you hear is going to be offered in your area and you sign up for without practice and experience doing.
FURTHER: YOU SHOULD BE A VERY STRONG SKIER OR SKATER BEFORE YOU EVER, EVER HOOK A DOG UP IN FRONT OF YOU TO PULL YOU ALONG!
We set up a Journal with photos of our own GSDs learning to pull, step by step of how we are/did training our own dogs to pull, on the Sled Dog page at this site (see menu at right), on the bottom of the page. We hope you will take a look.
I would like to invite you to join us on a Yahoo Group that I host called Working Big Dogs.
-- The Working German Shepherd Dogs Team
Wed, 31 Jul 2013 11:17:20 -0400