Dogs in skijoring: how are they used?

Print anything with Printful

Skijoring is a winter sport that involves a person being pulled on skis by one or more dogs. It originated in Scandinavia and Alaska and has become popular in North America. Skijoring races can range from three to 80 miles and require minimal equipment. Dogs should be trained in classic mushing commands, and courses are available to learn about dog selection and training, harness fitting, dog nutrition, skijoring equipment and technique, and piste protocols. Skijoring can also be adapted for use with horses or a functioning vehicle.

Skijoring is more than just an activity between a person and a dog. It can also be considered a recreational form of bonding between an owner and man’s best friend. As a winter sport that has been well received in North America, skijoring requires only minimal equipment, a pair of waxed skis, and several dogs that are energetic and sufficiently trained to make the snow fly. Since its rise in popularity, skijoring has been adapted for performance on other terrain than snow, and dogs have been replaced with horses or a functioning vehicle such as a snowmobile.

Skijoring had long been popular in Scandinavia and Alaska and was called pulka there. Pulka was both a sport and method of transportation using a dog and a pulka, a type of small sled. Usually the sled contained supplies needed for travel such as food or a tent for nomads’ shelter. The skier is hitched to the rear of the sled and pulled like a carriage.

When a skier participates in skijoring, the necessary skijor equipment usually consists of a harness suitable for the animal if pulling is being done; a belt that hugs the waist and a leash. The leash is attached to the harness, so there is a reasonable distance between the puller and the puller to avoid accidents. Skijoring is much more enjoyable when the slopes are smooth, so many skiers choose to heat-wax their skis to reduce the amount of friction on them as they glide across the terrain.

Skijoring races average three to ten miles (4.82 to 16.09 kilometers) in length. The endurance races last a little longer at around 32.18-80.46 miles (32.18 to 80.46 km). There are at least three dogs per skijoring racer; an optimal number that distributes weight evenly among the dogs but leaves them enough room to move during the sprint. Any healthy medium to large breed dog is a prime candidate. Siberian and Alaskan Huskies that are already at home in the snow are particularly appropriate, although Golden or Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies and Saint Bernards are equally qualified.

Prior to the ride, dogs should be trained in classic mushing commands, which will facilitate better understanding between both parties as they become more practiced at skijoring. In areas where skijoring is popular, especially places with expected snowfall, courses in the fundamentals of the sport are offered to the community. Topics covered may include dog selection and training, harness fitting, dog nutrition, skijoring equipment and technique, and piste protocols. By following the guidelines offered, skijoring enthusiasts can gain better experience or use their skills to explore new variations, including using a snowboard instead of skis, or grassjoring, where the terrain is grass instead of snow.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content