Going out in winter!

Because of Quebec’s cold winter weather, people and Fido are also less likely to do physical activities during this season. Moving is an essential need for both man and dog. A dog lacking exercise can sometimes cause anxiety. To motivate us, here are three winter sports that you can experiment with Fido. These activities will allow you to exercise and connect with your companion.

For these three sports activities, your dog is attached, via a lanyard, either directly to you or to a trolling device. The lanyard, from 2.5m minimum to 3.5m maximum, is stretchable to avoid unpleasant impacts for the dog and its master. The equipment used ensures the comfort of the master, but especially that of the dog. For all the various accessories required to perform these activities, I suggest you go to http://mushhitech.com/v2009/catalogue_FR.pdf, catalog MUSH HIGH-TECH.

Here is a discipline that is growing in popularity! The dog and its owner both make a physical effort either by running or by walking. Ultimately, for less athletic dogs, one can walk instead of running with one’s pet. The advantage of this discipline is that it can be practiced in the quiet streets of your town provided you follow the road safety rules.

The name skijoëring (harnessed ski) comes from the Swedish and the Norwegians. These origins date back to 2500 BC. It is aimed at those who prefer cross-country skiing and want to move with their dog (up to 3 dogs) or any other draft animal.

Snow scooters
The snow scooter has the same function as a sled, but it is lighter. It can be pulled by one or two dogs and is led by a musher. The owner must assist his dog during the climbs by running behind his scooter while keeping both hands on the latter.

Required conditions
In general, it is recommended that the dog be at least 18 months old to be harnessed. Also, the musher must be able to direct his “harness”, scooter or other. The dog(s) should therefore not be aggressive towards each other or to humans. This is why often we find calm and affectionate dogs within these sports. All types of dogs can be harnessed, but some are more comfortable than others. It is best to have a dog whose breed has an innate tendency to want to run and shoot. Here are a few examples:

  • American Bull Dog
  • Shepherd Dogs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Alaskan Husky
  • Siberian Huskys
  • Labrador
  • Malamutes
  • Pointers
  • Samoyed
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Setters
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Also, if the dog refuses to run or slows down, the master has to stop or slow down. It is strictly forbidden to force the dog to run by pulling. Of course, speed is more important for the skijoëring and the snow scooter than with the canicross. And the two previous activities require the approval from the cross-country ski facilities authority to be able to practice them. It is better to make your own circuit on a lake so as not to damage the existing cross-country ski trails. Information can be obtained from the organization “Canine Harness Sports Québec” (SCAQ) to find out where to play the sport, to get started and to participate in organized days for members.

Good discovery and enjoy the winter!

De Martine Lavallée BBA and Animal Health Technician

Photo-1: courtesy of www.lecharlevoisien.com
Photo-2: courtesy Skijoering thenoisyplume.com
Photo-3: courtesy of heidietcie.files.wordpress.com