The more active you and your dog remain through the summer, the easier it will be for both of you to get in skijoring shape in the Fall. Summer is also the ideal time to work with your dog on commands and behaviors for skijoring.
- Take your dog to obedience training.
- Walk with your dog. Use a collar or other device to keep the dog from choking itself or pulling your arm out of place. You can practice all commands while walking and you have a lot more control on your feet than you do on skis. Most dogs can learn to differentiate between not pulling (too hard) on the leash and pulling when in harness.
- Even better, hike with your dog. Summer is a great time to explore skijoring trails and get a whole new perspective on them.
- Run or jog with your dog. This is good harness training for the dog and conditioning for you. Be careful with the temperature and don’t overheat your dog. Run when it is cool, provide water frequently, and try to run on a soft surface to avoid foot problems (torn pads or bloody nails from wear on blacktop).
- Train your dog with a bicycle. This can be very dangerous with strong or untrained dogs, and not strong bicyclists. Know your dogs and your own abilities!!!! And wear protective gear.
- Use a 4-wheeler to train your dogs. The dogs can’t pull the 4-wheeler with the brake on and you can reinforce some of the more difficult commands by getting off of the vehicle and moving the dogs in the correct direction. Combine with other skijorers to make a team, which teaches socialization and adds to the fun.
- Fence your dog yard and spend time with your dogs loose in the pen. “Come” and “sit” and other regular dog commands are fun to teach and reinforce the dog/owner bond.
- Reinforce commands when you are doing everyday things. “Wait” or “stay” before your dog comes into the house or before it gets out of the car or truck. And “ok” or “let’s go” as you turn you dog loose to go in the house or in the vehicle.
- Take your dog past unfamiliar or new distractions. If a dog barks in your neighborhood, walk your dog past this barking dog with the command “on by.” Walk your dog past people giving the command “on by.” Start with people the dog knows and move on to public places as the dog’s confidence and your confidence grows.
- Every interaction does not have to be a lesson. However, the more you reinforce the commands in a positive manner, the better trained your dog will be in the fall.
- Do NOT tolerate any aggression from your dog toward people or other dogs. If your dog shows aggressive behavior, enroll in an obedience-training course or seek the help of a dog trainer.
Training is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that continues throughout the dog’s life.