Skijoring can be a good source of exercise for dogs during the winter months, when inactivity and lethargy are in full force. The activity, which is said to have Scandinavian roots, is a simple one. Tie a dog to your waist; clip your skis to your feet and go.
Not only does skijoring give dogs the exercise and sniffing opportunities that often eludes them throughout the winter months, it also provides your animal with the sense of duty that most breeds, large enough for skijoring, crave.
The action of being pulled by a dog is nothing new and many people partake in the activity already, unaware that is has a name. Skijoring competitions range from long distance cross-country races to short sprints, with categories separated by the number of dogs used. Races are more numerous in the Upper Peninsula, especially in the Keweenaw where Michigan Tech offers yearly races. Most dogsled races (also a common activity in the U.P.) offer skijoring categories.
Those interested in the sport as a recreational outlet for their dog can head to one of the many trails in the Grand Rapids area or in West Michigan that allow dogs. Some training may be necessary to encourage your dog to head in the right direction but for the most part the only necessity for your dog is a harness and the desire to pull (inherent in most breeds).
Races closest to Grand Rapids include the Sweetwater Challenge 1 & 2 in Baldwin, MI and several races in Farwell, MI hosted by the Mid-Union Sled Haulers (M.U.S.H.). To find a race near you visit sleddogcentral.com.
Some races are scheduled for March, but most are in January and February, offering a year of running (canicross) or biking (bikejoring) with your dog to train for the 2011 season.
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