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Dog Sports 101: All About Skijor/Bikejor

miker / Shutterstock.com
miker / Shutterstock.com

This article really covers two sports that share very similar attributes, and often filled with the same competitors and trainers depending on the time of year and their location. Each of these sports consists of a human and a dog team, or a human and team of multiple dogs, just like most other dog sports. In these, however, the dogs are used to pull their owners on skis across snow covered ground, or on bikes on all other types of turf. We’ve broken up the details below:

Skijoring: Skijoring originated in Scandinavia as a very popular sled dog sport. Since many people enjoy owning and training sled dogs such as Siberian and Alaskan Huskies, and most don’t need to use teams of dogs for regular transportation, the sport developed out of a love for the dogs’ original purposes. Since all of the sled dog breeds were bred to pull sleds for long distances, they are all active breeds that don’t enjoy just running, but also pulling. So when people started getting together to work their dogs, they created races where one or more dogs pulls their owners on a pair of skis. Most competitions are 3 to 10 miles in length, though long-distance races are growing in popularity. While this sport has been very common in Scandinavia and Alaska, it is rapidly growing and can be found in just about any place that has snow!

Bikejoring: If you don’t have snow, you don’t need to worry. Bikejoring is just like skijoring, except a dog or team of dogs pulls their owner on a bicycle, although the sport can also use dog scooters. Bikejoring is often done by skijor competitors to keep their dogs conditioned throughout the summer when there isn’t any snow. However, don’t worry if you’re not in a place with snow. Bikejoring can be enjoyed year round, and only needs a dedicated handler and eager dog. Just like skijoring, it was created as a dry land mushing activity for sled dogs.

Do you think you have a dog that would enjoy skijoring and/or bikejoring? Don’t worry if he’s not a purebred sled dog, or a sled dog at all. Many breeds and mixed breeds love the sports, and it keeps your dogs in incredible shape. Dogs generally love any sort of activity with their owners, and these sports are no exception. They allow the dog to truly run as hard as he can, for as long as he’s able to, and is a great exercise for both mind and body. Make sure not to start out of the blue on your own, as every sport has its risks. Because skijoring and bikejoring are so labor intensive, it’s important to make sure your dogs are in proper shape to start running and pulling – and the same goes for you! If you’re looking for a place to start, check out Skijor USA or The International Sled Dog Racing Association.

 

About the Author

Katie is a professional dog trainer located in Southern California, with a background of experience as a veterinary assistant as well. She has trained and competed with multiple breeds in AKC Obedience and Rally, agility, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring and conformation. She has been involved in dogs since she was a child, and specializes in protection dogs, working dogs, and aggression issues. You can visit her website, Katie’s Dog Training or her blog Little Sable Dog, to find out more information about her training and accomplishments. When she’s not helping others and writing, she’s out on the field with her Belgian Malinois and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

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Written by Katie Finlay
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