2001-Fri Feb 24 10:21:01 MST 2017
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Many dog owners dread
winter as the time of year when it's hard to get their dogs enough exercise. Try skijoring, though, and you may do a lot more than solve that problem.
"It's a phenomenal opportunity to deepen your relationship with your dog," says John Thompson, co-author of
Ski Spot Run: the Enchanting World of Skijoring and Related Dog-Powered Sports. "It's true teamwork."
exercise for both of you. Instead of sitting on a sled and letting the dog do all the work, you're on cross-country skis, propelling yourself along. The dog is out in front on a harness, attached to you by a long line, sometimes adding momentum — and companionship.
You don't need a
Malamute to try skijoring, and some possibly surprising breeds are good at it. Trainer Louisa Morrissey of
High Country Dogs in Colorado says serious skijoring racers often have
Pointers. "That's how I started," she says. "I had two
Pointers and needed to get them more exercise."
In fact, while the lower size limit is traditionally around 30 pounds, Morrissey will allow almost any dog in her skijoring workshops as long as the human's expectations are reasonable. She's taught a number of
Pomeranians and even a
Shih Tzu. "The woman just wanted to putter around on cross-country skis," she recalls. "Her dog trotted in front of her, and they were absolutely happy together."
The dog is only part of the consideration, though — the human needs to be ready as well.
"As far as the dog sports go, it's one of the simpler ones," Morrissey says. "Most challenging is probably the human part. A lot of people underestimate cross-country skiing."
Morrissey recommends that you have at least a couple of cross-country skiing lessons — downhill doesn't count, because the feel and technique are different — to learn a few basic skills before taking your dog along. "You need to be comfortable gliding, be able to stop, and stay up on your skis, say, 80 percent of the time," she says.
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