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How to Teach Line Out

Posted on 10 December, 2016 at 9:35 Comments comments (1)


 Line Out. It’s kind of a big deal. Often times people are so focused on GOING, flying off down the trail, in our rush to get there, we forget how to get there. Doesn’t make sense does it? Neither does skipping the “Line Out” command with your dog.

 A properly trained “Line Out” means your dog, in harness, will walk to the end of the gangline and wait.

What is your dog waiting for? The command to “Hike” to move forward. You might need to be waiting your turn at the start line of race, you might be needing to turn your GoPro on, you might just be fiddling with your gloves and skis. Either way, you can certainly see the advantage of a dog who is going to walk out to the end of the line, and wait till you are ready to start pulling!

Furthermore, a good solid “Line Out” means you have a good chance to check that there are no tangled lines, avoiding injury for both you and your dog!

 How do I teach it?

 Ask a mushing question, get 20 different answers.

Here is what works for the majority of our students. We begin by ensuring the dog can only be successful. A solid skijoring dog is a confident dog. A confident dog is one who has been set up for success.

This is going to be a skijoring command, so go ahead and suit up. Put your belt on, and harness your dog. Beginning in a hallway, or another narrow corridor, walk out the length of your gangline, and include room for your dog’s body as well. If the total length of your dog’s gangline to their nose is 10 feet, place a target at ten feet, and walk back to the start. A suitable target might be a small plastic lid.

Place your dog on the starting line in a “Sit Stay”. Walk back to the target and place a really juicy reward on it. Now walk back to your dog, who is hopefully drooling and looking at the treat. Avoid making eye contact with your dog, and release them from the “Sit Stay”. Your dog will bound off to the treat, being rewarded! Repeat this a few times, until your dog gets the idea of running ahead to the end of the line to get the treat. When your dog is getting the treat, don’t be shy, PRAISE PRAISE! Eventually you will be replacing the treat with verbal praise.

 Once your dog is doing this consistently, it’s time to take it up a notch. Place the target slightly further ahead this time. Just far enough ahead that your dog has to push against the harness to reach it. A solid “Line Out” is going to be having the dog put some pressure on the harness. Not enough to pull you, just enough to keep the line tight. When your dog is doing this well, it’s time to add the command. Associating the behaviour with the command.


 An important note, avoid sending your dog out to the target, and then calling him back. In the dog’s mind, this might be part of the training, and you certainly don’t want a dog who is going to “Line Out” then come bouncing back to you. Like some crazy Yo-yo! After you have asked your dog to “Line Out”, go and collect him, gather up the gangline, and walk him back. Only repeat this a few times, leave your dog wanting more. Don’t be a bore!

Please also avoid teaching your dog to “Line Out” by standing in front of them. To be a succesful skijroing team, you are going to be needing to communicate to your dog from behind them.  

 Extensions of this activity, are going to see you sending your dog to the target, waiting for a few seconds, and then moving forward. If your dog can wait patiently at the end of the line while you finish your coffee, bonus points to you!

 There are as many ways of training "Line Out" as there are mushers and dogs. Everyone has something that works for them. The end result should always be the same. You have a dog who is at the end of the line, and waits for your command to tell them to go. Don’t forget what our end game is here. Walk to the end of the line. Go forward. Soon enough your dog will be moving forward down the trail, and that is reward! 


Our friend Stephaine sent us a video she did,  on teaching your dog to Line Out.  Please watch the video https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B53OBlBn4PlDUWJOaGRCYjRHRUE/view" target="_blank">here 

The AbC's of Skijoring

Posted on 4 November, 2016 at 0:45 Comments comments (0)

The ABC's of Skijoring


A- A is for the Adventures you will share with your dog!

B- B is for Booties! Bootie up for your dog's feet, and avoid ripped, torn and worn pads. (For more bootie tips, check this article on Petguide.com)

C – C is for Climate. Be ready for whatever it's going to throw at you! I have skijored in the rain, fog, howling winds, and white outs. So check the weather before you go!

D – D is for done. Know when to call it a day. Your dog is unlikely to tell you when she's had enough, so that's your job to call it quits. Ideally, you want to stop while your dog is still wagging for more.

E – E is for Equipment. Check your equipment each and every time you head out. It's a long walk home should something break!

F – F is for Fall Training. Start your skijor season early by doing some dryland work. Get your dogs feet conditioned, and brush up on some of your skills to make the most of the upcoming season.

G- is for “Gee” call it with enough time for your dog to turn right on the trail!

H- H of course is for “HIKE” a ski-dogs favourite word! Let's go, Hike!

I- I is for Iceballs! Trim, Wax and Watch! Trim the hair between your dog's feet, wax the paws (or use booties) and watch for the build up of painful iceballs between the dog's toes! A little bit of wax goes a long way. 

J- J is for Jingle! If you are running on a multiuse trail, attach a bear bell to your rig. The noise of the bell will help warn other people of your presence.

K- K is for Kicksled. Investing in a kicksled is a great way to extend your skijoring season. Kicksleds can be taken over rougher patches where you would never dare ski. They also need less snow, so really help with the shoulder seasons.

L- L is for Love. You and your dog love the sport! If either of you sours at the experience, take a step back, and see what's changed. Sometimes a new trail, or a week off is enough to put the spark back in it!

M- M is for Morning. Dogs tap into their natural instinct when skijoring. They love to run in the early morning, or later into the evening. Take your dog out for a dawn or dusk run. Just be careful, as wild animals are also more active at these times of day.

N- NO DOGS ALLOWED. These signs are disappointing, and often the result of a dog owner not following the rules. Train your dog to be a good citizen, and pick up after them. This will ensure that we see less of these signs.

O- O is for “On-by!”. Which comes in handy if you want your dog to leave the dead deer, passed out skier, or pee spot alone. Train “on by” on your daily walks first, and then on your skijor runs. A good “on-by” is going to keep your runs safe and fun!

P- P is for Pee! Pay attention to your dog's pee, and notice when the colour is off. A well hydrated dog will have urine that is almost clear. Pee that is too dark and yellow could mean your dog needs more water.

Q – Q is for Quiet. For the peace and quiet you will find on a beautiful winter's day. Frost on the trees, hard packed snow under your skis, and your best friend out in front of you. Enjoy it!

R – R is for Rest. You and your dog need to rest and recover after a hard work out. Monitor your dog for any signs of stiffness or soreness after a run.

S- S is for Skis! Whether you choose to use skate or classic skis, make sure you opt for the sturdy pair. Those fancy racing skis likely won't hold up to the pressures of skijoring!

T- T is for Training. Keep your goals in mind for skijoring, and train accordingly. Skijoring is both mentally and physically challenging for us, and our dogs. Ensure you are training your dog's mind as well as body. You too can also learn something new every time you go out, by paying attention to your dog.

U- U is for Underwear! Invest in a good quality pair of long-johns! They should wick the sweat away from your body, and keep you dry on the trail. Nothing ruins a day like a pair of wet undies!

V- V is for the tracks you will leave in the snow! When you are skating behind your dog, you want to see a nice “V” pattern in the snow. Not too long or wide of a “V”, as you don't want to slow your dog down, or throw off their momentum.

W- W is for Water! Bait it! Bring it! Your dog needs it, and so do you! Dipping for snow is not an effective or efficient way to stay hydrated, so offer plenty of water for your dogs!

X- X is for X-back, the most common style of harness. Harness styles come and go, but the X-back, with slight variations has been around a long time. A custom size is a good way to splurge for your skijoring buddy. Keep in mind, X-backs have been designed for northern breed dogs, with northern breed dog body shapes. If you are running a mutt, or family pet, custom is the way to go!

Y- Y is for Youth. You can start running your dog as soon as they are trained and their bodies are ready, which is usually around the one year mark. Skijoring is not just a sport for young dogs. Older dogs that have learned to conserve their energy make great skijoring partners!

Z- Z is for Zinc. Your dog can get Zinc from beef, turkey, pork, fish and peanut butter. Zinc supports your dog's entire body, but is also beneficial in helping them toughen up their feet. So spoon out the peanut butter as a healthy treat for your dog! Looking for a seriosu dose of zinc? Consider some NutraZInc! 


 By The Trail Outlaws:

 K.C. Roberts, A. Pressenger, C. Leah.