15 May 2013

Skijoring with 2 Dogs!

Adding a 2nd Dog

If you aren't at this point already, you will very likely be here soon!

Whether you are buying or borrowing a second dog, this post will focus on skijoring with a two dog team.

Dogs being pack animals, for the most part, enjoy the company of another dog. This is true when sleeping on the couch, digging holes in the yard or skijoring. With a well matched team, both dogs will pull equally and enjoy each others company while on the trail.

Here is a list of some things to think about before adding another member to your team.

Too much power.

Don't skijor with more dog weight than your own weight, is a general rule of thumb. If your dogs

outweigh you, it will be that much harder to control them while on skis. Or while you are on your butt being dragged down the trail, or off the trail after a deer.

Is your dog ready?

Are there any bad habits that you are still working on with your current dog? Adding skijor runs is not a good idea until you get those under control.
another dog to your

Peer Pressure

Running an extra dog will want to do everything a little more. Run a little more. Run a little faster. You will be able to go further, and faster.

You might also have to contend with different behaviours. Now that your dog is running in a pack, lose dogs or other teams might become more of a target. Or if those were issues already, your dogs might misdirect the aggression towards the running mate.

Fitness Level

If you and your current dog have been skijoring for years, or even months, the fitness level of the dogs will vary. A good tip would be to run your first dog, get some of the energy off, then add the second dog to the run. Leave the second dog in the car, you don't to accidentally train any bad behaviours while you are taking some of the edge off the first dog.

If you and your dog are used to doing 10 k runs, slow it down, and start back at the start when you add the second dog. You want this to be fun!


A neckline will help keep both dogs focused, and going in the same direction around a tree, etc. Before you hook the dogs up together for a skijor, put them in harness, and neckline them, and spend some time walking around on trails, and doing dryland training. Offer praise when the dogs are doing what you want!

Bottom Line

Two dogs is twice as much of everything! Twice as much poop, love, time and money.

Dogs who run together will be friends for life! Once you add a second dog, you won't be looking back, so what are you waiting for?


Scootering With Your Best Friend

If you don't have snow, scootering is the safest way to go! 

Look for a scooter that is built for off road use.  You won't be scootering with your dogs on pavement.  So look for something that has knobby tires, and good

If your dog is trained already to skijor, making the transition to scootering is easy.  

Start without the dogs first, take the scooter around, practise shifting weight from one leg to another.  Try the brakes, learn how they act and react.  Take the scooter down a gradual hill, and over a variety of terrain.  Once you have your scooter legs, under you, then it's time to add a dog. 

Even if you run multiple dogs, start with one dog at a time on the scooter.  You need to be in complete control of the dog and the scooter.   Allow the dog some time to get used to the scooter as well, so keep the runs short to start.

Once you have a feel for what you and the dog are doing, you can add the rest of your team.


I used to wear a bike helmet, but bike helmets are mostly meant to protect your forehead is a crash over the handlebars.  I have no switched to a skateboard helmet, which allows more coverage at the back of my head, and just as much coverage at the front as a bike helmet.    



Just like in skijoring, you and your dog are a team.   It's not your dogs job to haul your butt around the trails.  So on a scooter, you will need to be able to kick along to help the dog.   From the start, make sure you are comfortable kicking on either foot.  Wear a good pair of hikes, with grip to stay on the scooter, and enough grip to help kick on the terrain you are riding.  


Just as on skis, it is your job to maintain the proper speed on hills.  Uphill might require you to hop off the scooter, and push it up.  Downhill will require you to keep an eye on the gangline and keep it taught.  


My current scooter has an awesome set of disc brakes.   I have loosened the brakes, so they will still catch and hold the scooter, but think of your brakes a back-up emergency device. 

If you need to stop your dogs, you will need to use your voice commands, just like in skijoring.  The brakes are there for control of the scooter, not control of the dogs.  Applying the brakes too suddenly or strongly can injure the dogs shoulders, or tear their pads.   Always give your team plenty of warning when you plan to stop by using the brakes.

Check It

Before you hit the trail:

1. Tell someone where you are going, and when you plan to return.
2.  Bait plenty of water for the dogs.
3.  Check your dogs for signs of injury.
4.  Check your gear, bolts, ropes, straps, lines. Everything should be in order.
5.  Check the weather forecast. Avoid running your dog if it's hot out.


Warm Weather


The snow is gone, and now your dog and yourself are craving a good trail run.   No-Snow-Weather opens up more possibilities for you and your team to get out there and explore some new trails!

You don't need a groomed trail to run, scooter, or bike on with your dogs!  So there are more options!

Water, Water, Water

Soak your dog's kibble the night before, pack some baited water for the trail head, and also for rest stops along the way.  You can't bring too much water for your dogs, or for yourself.   I always water my dogs at home, at the trail head, on pit stops, and when we get back to the truck.  

New Dangers

If you have been running your dog in the winter, you have no doubt enjoyed the relative peace and tranquillity of the trail.  Many other trail users were off hibernating.  With the warmer temperatures, you will need to share the trail with more users, both two legged and four.  Expect to see more animals, loose dogs, hikers, horses, etc.  We even ran into a wedding party having their photos done once fall day!  

Expect the unexpected, and be in control of your dogs at all times.


In some sections of the country, ticks are a growing concern.  Check your dogs when you get home, and a few hours after you get home as well. Fell for any small bumps or lumps that weren't there before.   Remove any ticks you find, and keep an eye on the area you removed the tick from for signs of infection. 

Heat Stroke

Dogs can and will overheat very quickly, leading to heat stroke, or even death. Signs of heat stroke can include:

  • Rapid panting
  • Dark red gums
  • Thick saliva
  • Tacky or dry gums
  • Lying down and unwilling (or unable) to get up
  • Collapse and/or loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness or disorientation

  • If you even THINK your dog has heat stroke, call your vet right away!  In the meantime:   move the dog to a shady or air conditioned area.   Then begin to cool the dog's body down, by pouring cool, not cold, water on the head and feet.   Offer your dog fresh water to drink.  Seek medical attention.

    Don't run your dog on hot days. 

    Paw Damage

    Please, do not run your dog on pavement.  You are risking damage to the pads, from wearing them down, to ripping them off altogether.  Nails can become torn and cracked.  The dogs joints will also be at risk from pounding the pavement.  It is simply not worth it. 

    In addition, pavement holds the heat.  So even if the air temperature seems cooler, it's much warmer on the pavement for your dog.  

    The last danger with running a dog on pavement is cars and other traffic.  You do not know how your dog will react in every single situation, a poorly timed squirrel and a truck might mean spell disaster for your dog and yourself.  

    Running on pavement leads to increased injuries and heat stress.


    Before You Go

    Before you run your dog on any trail, be sure to walk it first.  Scouting for possible obstacles on the trail like downed trees, logs, holes made by horse hooves, wet patches, or sections with lose rocks.  Fix parts of the trail which are dangerous, and make mental note of those sections you can't fix.  

    Always wear a helmet.