What Do You Know About Dog Skijoring?

Skijoring is a winter sport when a person on skis is pulled by dogs. One to three dogs can take part in skijoring by the rules. When the skier goes up the hill or goes along the tough roads he helps the dogs pushing off the ground with ski poles. The skier puts on a skijoring harness and a sled dog harness is put on the dog, thus two participants are connected with a rope. The person controls the dog by signals and commands. The dog should have motivation and should run forward in its own volition, thus responding to a voice of the handler for direction.

Dog Sport Harness

Malamute with Nylon Harness for Pulling and Skijoring

Various dog breeds can take part in skijoring, the only condition is their desire to pull the weight. Small dogs with weight less than 16 kg participate in skijoring rarely because they will hardly be able to make the skier moving forward. But if such a dog likes to be in a team and to pull the skier, it is possible to allow the dog to be engaged in skijoring, in this case the skier helps the dog by pushing with ski poles.

Most often sporting dogs, Setters and herding dogs participate in skijoring. Northern dog breeds, such as Alaskan Husky and Siberian Husky, Malamute, Samoyed and other active dog breeds take part in skijoring with a great pleasure. Golden Retrievers, Giant Schnauzers, Labradors and many multibred dogs are also seen in harness. Pulling dog breeds, such as American Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and Mastiff also work well. Skijoring is practiced for long distances and travels as well as for sprints.

Skijoring Competitions

Skijoring races are held in many countries with snowy winters. Average length of the race is from 5 to 20 km. Perhaps, the longest race for skijoring is in Canada, its length is 160 km. In the USA and Canada skijoring competitions are usually held in combination with sled dog races. Purebred dogs as well as mixed dog breeds (f.e. mix of Pointer and Greyhound) can participate in skijoring competitions.

Husky Harness UK

Strong Leather Harness for Husky Pulling and Tracking

Unofficial skijoring competitions are held under the guidance of local clubs and official races fall under one of 3 international organizations. In the USA and Canada competitions are controlled by the International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA), in Europe – European Sled Dog Racing Association (ESDRA) and the International Federation of Sleddog Sports (IFSS). The IFSS sanctions also the World Cup, which is held every 2 years. By the rules the teams playing for skijoring championship are separated into men and women, one-dog and two-dog categories.

The World Cup in skijoring took place in 2005 in Canada, in 2007 – in Sweden, in 2009 – in Canada and in 2011 – in Norway.

Skijoring Origin

Since the dogs were walked on the leash it turned out when the person went skiing and took the dog along with him, the dog pulled the skier on the race. But such type of entertainments couldn't be called as sport without professional training. The first skijoring races were held in Scandinavia as one of the directions of national sport. Skijoring quickly became popular in the USA.

Labrador Pull Harness UK

Labrador with Heavy-Duty Nylon Sport Harness 

Equipment for Skijoring

Wide belts which are fastened around the skier's waist was specially developed for skijoring. Rock climbing harnesses are also used as skijoring belts. Dogs are fastened to the skier with the helping of sled dog harness. The skijoring line is no less than 1.5 meters. The lines are fastened with special quick-release hooks, which allow the skier to be unhooked rapidly in case of danger.

Skijoring Techniques and Training

The skier uses either classic diagonal stride on a cross-country terrain or faster skate skiing technique. The skis should be hot waxed from tip to toe to avoid resistance and to reduce load on the dogs. The dogs participating in skijoring are taught the main set of dog sledding commands to start running (hike), turn (gee and haw — right and left in the USA), to stop (whoa) and to pass distractions (on by). At first it is better to move slowly to train the dog to overcome the obstacles on the way such as trees, bushes, ditches, streams. The dogs shouldn't interfere the other participating teams at skijoring competitions.

Why does a sled dog need a harness? - read about this in our article.

Husky Harness Rottweiler Harness Dog Pulling Harness GSD Harness