Hi. I have been interested in pulling sports for a good long time. My wife and I finally got a dog and he seems game enough to give it a try. Looking to gather information and experience on how to get started.
WELCOME EVERYONE! This group is for people interested in trying out skijoring and possibly getting into skijoring with their family dog(s). Or maybe you already have experience and you're someone that can share your knowledge with the rest of us! Skijoring is basically when you as the skijorer (driver) are on skis (usually classic cross-country type skis or maybe sporty skate skis once you really get into it) get hooked up to your dog with a line. Your dog wears a special dog harness and you wear a special hip & leg belt and the two are connected by a bungee-type line. A really great thing about skijoring compared to the more well-known sport of dog-sledding is you can do skijoring with just one dog (although you could use more than one). Most skijoring books say that as long as your dog is over 30 pounds and likes to pull, you've got potential! (Please note, that means 30 pounds as an adult...puppies shouldn't be pulling; you can start skijoring command training at 6 months, but shouldn't be pulling full weight until about 18 months.) So, if your dog failed obedience school because he wouldn't heel, you might actually have the makings of a great skijoring dog, because you want a dog that will PULL! Although, in theory, you could have a great obedience dog that is also a great pulling dog, as long as they learn the difference about the situations. I say in theory, because I don't know, I'm not an expert (I'm not an expert skier either), and my dog never was a great heeler, but he's doing well PULLING so far! I'm really excited about getting into the activity, and I figure there's got to be a few people around that have already done it and can share ideas! This group is just meant as a way for people to get together to learn about skijoring with dogs, possibly organize an event(s) to bring a trainer to our local area, to try it out before deciding to buy some of the harness equipment, etc, to share suggestions on motivating and training dogs for skijoring commands, to motivate new dogs to pull (by 'chasing' other skijorers on the trail), to suggest locations and share trail-breaking duties for outings, to car-pool to skijor trails farther away, and maybe eventually even to have enough members that we could consider advocating with the city to be allowed to use some groomed trails. I've got a link to a great YouTube video that I really love on skijoring (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpTTrrziSRA), but I'm sure you could find others. You can also search for links to general dog pulling sports, a lot of dog-sledding training is applicable for skijor dogs, and also suppliers for the specialized harnesses and lines. A good book to look for is Ski Spot Run, although it wasn't recently at Edmonton Public Library when I searched for it. (I have a copy I can loan out if you ask me nicely!) Related to that is an important piece of advice from the book - you probably do want to have basic skiing skills before you try this out the first time, so you might want to start brushing up, even if you're just renting ski equipment in the short term. I anticipate the initial meetups would be where we try to bring in a trainer to give an intro on skijoring (harness equipment, ski equipment, basic command training advice), and then decide from there what else needs to be done. Location choices may be an issue, as at present I believe dogs will not be welcomed on groomed x-ski trails within the city. But a dog on a skijor line is technically not off-leash, so we may just be able to go in more general areas if we're willing to break ski-trail. I realize people have to think about doing new things for a while before they actually decide to go for it, so we'll post a few date options, and hope to hear back from "you" on other date requests. Oh, and one more thing - there's tons of options for off-season activities: scooter-joring, bike-joring, etc, to try and maintain command training over the summer, so don't think it's too late in the winter season to get into it - it easily carries over to summer!