Skijoring is a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a dog. The term “joring” is derived from the Norwegian word “jøre,” which means “to drive” or “to make go”.
In Skijoring dogs are harnessed and attached to the skier via a towline.
Training for skijoring involves teaching your dog to pull you while you’re on skis and ensuring both you and your dog are comfortable and safe during the activity.
Here are some steps to help you get started:
Basic Obedience Training
Before introducing your dog to skijoring, make sure they have basic obedience training. Commands like “stay,” “come,” “gee” (for turn right) and “haw” (for turn left) are essential.
Get the Right Equipment
Invest in proper skijoring equipment, including a skijoring harness for your dog (like our Harness X-Run, Harness X-Shirt or Harness Scandinavia), a skijoring belt for yourself, a towline for one dog or two dogs, and appropriate skis.
Familiarize Your Dog with Gear
Proper equipment enhances safety and comfort. Allow your dog to get used to wearing the harness. Let them wear it around the house and reward them with treats to create positive associations.
Introduce the Skis
Set up your skis in an area where your dog is comfortable. Allow them to sniff and investigate the skis. Again, use treats and positive reinforcement.
Teach your dog basic directional commands such as “gee” for right, “haw” for left, “whoa” for stop, and “on-by” to pass distractions without stopping (terms derived from sleddog).
Practice Leash Skills
Practice loose-leash walking to ensure your dog understands how to maintain a steady pace without pulling excessively.
Start with Short Runs
Begin in a controlled environment with short runs. Gradually increase the distance as your dog becomes more comfortable and responsive. Select trails or areas suitable for skijoring. Look for groomed cross-country ski trails or wide open spaces with enough snow cover. Before hitting the trails, spend some time warming up with your dog. Allow them to run around and expend some energy to ensure a more focused and enjoyable skijoring session.
Gradually build up the distance and duration of your skijoring sessions. Pay attention to your dog’s energy levels and take breaks when needed.
Always reward your dog for good behaviour and following commands. Positive reinforcement will help reinforce the desired behaviour. Skijoring is a partnership. Communicate with your dog through voice commands and body language. Building a strong bond with your furry companion enhances the enjoyment of the activity. Finish your skijoring session on a positive note. Reward your dog for a job well done and enjoy a cool-down period together.
Ensure that both you and your dog are wearing appropriate safety gear. Be mindful of the terrain and weather conditions.
Before starting any physical activity, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is in good health and physically able to participate.
Hydrate and Snack
Bring water and snacks for both you and your dog, especially for longer skijoring sessions. Staying hydrated and fuelled contributes to a more enjoyable experience.
Remember that skijoring is a team activity, and both you and your dog should enjoy the experience. It’s important to be patient and take the time needed for both of you to become comfortable and proficient in skijoring together.
The key to enjoying skijoring is to approach it with a sense of adventure, patience, and a willingness to learn. It’s a fantastic way to stay active during the winter months and strengthen the bond with your furry companion.
Skijoring events can be organized as races or competitions, and they are held in various locations with winter conditions, all over the world.
Remember to prioritize safety, have the right equipment, and most importantly, have fun out there on the snowy trails!