These bad boys are a cross between Backcountry skis, and Snowshoes.
In my zeal for bad ass dog activities under ANY circumstances, I’ve run into some snags with the tapering period before and after the snow season. My kicksled, is awesome for when it’s been snowing regular. But, if you hit patches of thin cover you’re carrying that rig. Not fun.
Oddly enough, the kicksled sucks in fresh deep snow too. The runners are are only about two inches wide, and so they just sink into fresh deep powder. Come to think of it, the kicksled is really only awesome on packed trails. Now, that said, on a packed trail, it’s about the coolest thing in the world!
But, I’ve run into problems on un-groomed trails. If it’s real deep, the sled sinks. Snowshoes don’t help, at least not for a pulling scenario!
The obvious answer is for big, backcountry skis!
Sure. But, here’s my issue with that. I wind up getting out of the skis, a ton during an excursion. To walk to the trailhead. To walk through a dry, or rocky patch. Or, even ditch, or ravine crossing.
The trail by my house is a perfect example. There’s two ways to access it. A 3/4 mile walk on the road, that even when the trail is beautiful, the road can be dry, and no good for sliding. Or, through a deep un-groomed field about 2 blocks long, and a ravine crossing.
Both options suck bad with a sled. And aren’t much better in ski boots.
Enter the “Sliding” snowshoes!
They are fat, and short like backcountry skis, so they’re great for breaking trail in deep snow. Plus, they’ll SLIDE like skis….. Which is good if there’s dogs pulling you! But the reason they’re way cooler than regular skis, is that they work with my regular boots! Which means, I can throw them on my back, and hike it, if there’s not enough snow! That means, there’s no risk in picking the wrong equipment. If there’s enough snow, we “skijor”. If there’s not, we are Canicrossing!
Bring on the snow! Or not, doesn’t matter.
BTW, if all that sounds like too much hassle for you, but you’d still like your dogs out on the trail…..
What the hell do those two things have to do with each other?
Turns out, the what to do when all hell breaks loose is pretty much the same for both.
When I went rafting a long time ago, one of the safety tips they gave was, “if you fall out of the boat; try to go down river face up, and feet first!”
Yesterday I was running a team of two bullies, who (between the two of them) weighed about 150 lbs, and can pull around 3,000-4,000 lbs! I had them at Poland Springs Preservation Park. Which is an awesome place for reactive dogs. The trails are super cool! And to top it off….. there’s almost no one ever there! It’s so dead, that I’m not even gonna hotlink it to a map like I usually would, cause I don’t want to run into you with the goobers I take there!
But, I digress…..
On the trail, these two monsters were helping me pick up speed going DOWN a hill, and I hit a patch of mud hidden just under a layer of wet leaves. After sliding like 10 feet and flapping my arms like a bird didn’t work……. I remembered my whitewater safety course. So yeah, Nestea Plunge I went.
And just like in whitewater safety it took like 50 yards before I came to a stop! Yeah….. They pulled my down the hill with me making a high speed mud angel.
Now, to their credit they probably would’ve stopped sooner, but it took me like 40 yards to stop laughing uncontrollably at the absurdity of the whole thing.
So, remember….. In whitewater safety AND in Canicross, feet first & face up!
3 Bad Bullies just got our hands on a brand new Kickbike Cross Max!
These things scream to be pulled by dogs. They are stable, and have shocks like a mountain bike. So, they can totally handle off road rough housing. But, they’re super easy to step off of if things get squirrely….. Which, with dogs pulling you off road, can sometimes happen. That’s the main difference for the dog sports. Bikes are hard to get off of at speed. But these are a little less sketchy feeling.
Anyway, We just added one to our arsenal of Canine Exercise Therapy equipment.
If you want to get your dog in on the action….. Give us a call. We’ll run ’em for you!
Noocksak Racing usually has a booth at these races so it’s a great time to meet them and get some gear!
I just found out about it, so I’m trying to adjust my schedule to get it in!
But if you’re remotely into this idea, you should try and get down there and support it. Participate, or just watch! The more people that are there, the more likely they are to have more of these events!
We officially adopted Jackson (the little brindle/blue bull with cropped ears you see in a lot of our photos). And, because I plan on doing a lot of sledding/skijoring this winter, I need to get him up to speed!
Off to the trails we go!
There’s about 3/4 of a mile of a deep sand shoulder on our road, that intersects with a snowmobile trail right next to our house! How’s that for convenient?
Bella was out with Mandy and a clients Hyper pup. But with the addition of Jackson….. I still had a 3 dog crew!
This clip was at about 1.5 miles of the pull. As you can see, Jax is not running on his neckline, which is letting him squirt around a bit. As new as he is to this, the neck line pulling him forward can set off his opposition reflex, and make him put on the brakes. So I let him get comfortable.
Once he got going good (about a 2/3rds of the way today), I stop and attach his neck line to get him acclimated. As you can see the front dogs don’t have a neckline on. But, that’s because they’re pretty experienced, and don’t stray much. I only run them on a neck line when we’re going to be in a distracting environment, and I need the “group” movement to encourage each individual to stay with the flow. They’re fine with the neckline, so it wasn’t important to add it, like with Jax. As you can see in this clip, he’s on the neckline and doing just fine!
Of course, they’re noticeably slower in the second clip. That’s because A- they’re tired, it is about 3 miles in. And, B- That is the sandy beach of a shoulder. And they’re pulling about 250 lbs between me and the mountain bike! So you’d be slowing down too!
Welcome home little buddy. You’re the fourth bad bully!
I’ll keep posting his progress. I’m REALLY looking forward to running a kicksled with a 4 dog bully crew, on a packed snowmobile trail!!!!
The sport of attaching a sled harness to your dog and then attaching it to you……. With no sled.
Then, you run. And try not to fall. It’s AWESOME!
Actually, there’s more to it than that.
To do it on your own is pretty easy. Get a quality harness/line/belt. We use Nooksack Racing gear.
Most dogs naturally pull, so that usually isn’t a problem. Dogs tend to follow a trail, so that usually works out well.
But for it to be a more fun experience for you, and more of “work” experience for them, a few commands are good to have.
Minimums (I find):
– A go command (even though they tend to pull naturally, there are times when they will decide they’d rather not. For this to be a work exercise, they need to go regardless!)
– A stop command (As in, if you stop to tie your shoe you don’t have to tether yourself to a tree)
– A leave it command (As in they “tend” to follow a trail, but it’s surprising how brave little forest creatures get when they see a dog pulling. A sudden left turn into a heavily wooded area as they chase a squirrel can just ruin the experience.)
Nice but not necessary:
– Left/right turn (when trails split this is really nice)
– Heel (depending on the gnarliness of the trail, it’s nice to be able to say walk behind me over this slick wobbly bridge!)
In Competitions people like to have these:
– A tolerance for other dogs. There are going to be a lot of them and they will be AMPED!!! you have to make sure that your dog is either OK with that, or you have bombproof management techniques in your toolbox. Cause you WILL need them. Just because people have taught their dogs to pull doesn’t necessarily mean they have taught them manners!
– About left/right (as in a u-turn one way or the other)
– Over left/right (as in which side of the trail to be on. Useful for passing)
Of course the die-hard “Mushers” (what pulling enthusiasts usually call themselves) do it in a foreign language. But I don’t really care about that.
How to get these skills, you ask?
Yeah that’s the problem.
We read about it, and thought it was awesome sounding. So, we of course asked every trainer we could find for help. No one teaches it. Weird. So we just taught ourselves. And started with the minimums. Not bad.
Then we finally found a Musher willing to help us. And that’s when we found out the secret. You hitch your dog to a team of trained dogs. They are literally attached. You say right, the team pulls them right. Eventually, the team isn’t pulling them, cause they know what right means.
Sweet. If your dog’s not reactive/aggressive.
What about…. You know….. Us?
Well, I can tell you how we do it.
Getting a dog through the minimums isn’t hard. Acclimate them to the equipment. Be consistent with your stop and go commands. Pretty simple. Leave it I do “off-line” first. Then once they have it, they’ll have it on a trail too. So far so good.
The more complex stuff?
Heel you teach off-line, and interrupt your runs with them enough that you have them when you need them. No biggie. So far it’s just like the doggie friendly types.
Left/right turns. That’s where it gets different. If you don’t have a team of dogs to teach your dogs with, you need people.
Here’s one way to try. It’s essentially like teaching recall. You get a fork in a trail and put a person on each side You pick a side, and run up to the fork and say “right” (or whatever you want it to be) the corresponding person then bait’s the dog. After a bunch of successful reps, do the other side. Then it’s the choice factor. As you approach you say one or the other and the correct person baits. Then reduce the baiting until they are dead still and the dog chooses correctly, cause he understands. Then back them further up the trail until eventually they are out of sight, and the dog is being rewarded way after the fork. Then you have a dog that knows the turns, and it didn’t take a dog team to do it.
The tolerance of other dogs…. Or how to manage an aggressive dog in a huge crowd of AMPED dogs?
Whew…. That’s for another time. That’s its own can of worms!
I will leave you with these pics.
(first two pics above are of Mabel. Highly dog aggressive, and people reactive, in the biggest CanX race in the state. And the last one is of Bella, who is VERY environmentally challenged, in the same race! If we can do it with them, your dog is NO PROBLEM)
And if those pics of happy dogs and people aren’t enough to make you want your pooch involved with this…… Then I don’t know how you call yourself a dog person!
Want them in it, but don’t want the headache, or physically can’t give them this gift….. Call us. We’ll run em for you!
Your partners in dealing with your difficult, hyper, or aggressive dogs.