... a fantastic activity for energetic dogs
Mushers say “A tired dog is a good dog”
“Hyperactive dogs without sufficient exercise are not happy dogs. They often destroy houses, bark endlessly and end up in shelters. Mushing can help solve this issue”
“Mushing becomes addictive”
In mushing you and the dog are the team!
Dogs and their owners in snow-laden regions in the northern hemisphere have excelled in mushing for transport and sport and the fun has now translated into a multi-season versions. In this article, we focus on dryland mushing disciplines and especially on dog scootering, bikejoring, canicross, dog trekking and backpacking/hiking. All these disciplines allow dogs to do what they love the most: running.
What is mushing?
Mushing is a general term for a sport or transport method powered by dogs. In winter, mushing is sledding, pulka (a dog-powered toboggan or sled) and skijoring (where a dog, or horse, tows a skier) across snow. In other seasons, and regions without snow, dryland mushing is dog scootering, bikejoring (a dog leashed to a pushbike), canicross, dog trekking, backpacking and weight pulling.
Why is mushing good for dogs?
During mushing, dogs get plenty of challenging, and fun exercise in a reasonable amount of time. Walking on leash provides limited exercise for an energetic dog and numbers of off-leash parks are limited. Dogs love to run to meet their exercise needs.
Breeders mush to build fitness so the dog looks great in the show ring. Show dogs become hard muscled.
Agility competitors mush to build fitness without continual jumping.
Hunters mush to build endurance.
Which dogs can go mushing?
Originally mushing dogs were of sledding or Spitz types such as the Husky, Malamute, Samoyed or Pointer but now other breeds have begun taking part: dogs from small terrier breeds, medium breeds (Border collie, Cattle dog and the like) to large breeds such as Labradors, Rottweilers, Boxers, Ridgebacks, Shepherds) equally enjoy mushing. Not only do most breeds have the ability to run and pull, but also people of all ages and different fitness levels can take part. If your dog loves to run and has lots of energy, he is a natural mushing dog. Dog size is not important unless you plan to win at races. Some dogs pull hard, some don’t pull much at all, regardless of size.
Dog scootering is an activity where one or two dogs pull a human on a kick scooter (dog scooter). The dogs wear the same harnesses that sled dogs wear and are hooked to the scooter with a bungee line. The bungee line should incorporate a bungee cord to smooth out the shocks of speeding up and take off.
Bikejoring is similar to dog scootering but uses a bike instead of a kick scooter. The bike is also equipped with a special adapter to keep the leash away from the front wheel. The main difference between dog scootering and bikejoring are: on the bike you can drive faster but the kick scooter is safer as the centre of gravity is lower; a rider can get off the kick scooter faster than from the bike and stopping the kick scooter is also quicker.
Canicross is the sport of cross-country running with dogs. It started in Europe and is also very popular in UK. All you need is a dog, a canicross belt, a bungee line and a harness. The races are usually over a course five to seven kilometres. People run with one or two dogs. The runner wears a waist belt, and the dog is connected to the runner by a bungee line which reduces shock both to the runner and the dog when the dog pulls. Canicross is not only a great way for the runner to keep fit but also great exercise for dogs. It encourages people and their dogs to take part in outdoor activity and meet other like-minded individuals.
Dog trekking is an activity similar to canicross. It combines running with walking on long distance tracks such as 50km or even 100km.
Dog hiking and backpacking is an outing where dogs go for a hike with their owners who want to enjoy both the environment and canine companionship and where the dog may also provide some extra haulage capacity. Some dogs can carry upto 30% of their weight.
“Mushing is more than sport…it’s a life style”