In 2002, I started skijoring with my Australian Shepherd McCoy. He and my mixed breed rescue dog at the time Shasta, pulled me in their collars of all things! I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I was having fun.
Soon I realized that I was serious about this and had to get proper equipment for my dogs, so I made my own equipment, which included X-back harnesses, lines, and dog boots.
It is essential to know how to repair your own equipment so making it was just the next step. It can be done easily and safely.
I also had to stop falling while skiing, so I switched to a kicksled.
I purchased a Finnish made Elsa kick sled. This eliminated the crashes ( and bruised and broken tailbones!) and increased the fun.
You can use this sled without any dogs by just pushing behind it with your feet. In fact, this sled was actually intended for human power but has been adapted for dogs. It will get you to the post office and the grocery store!
I made my own gangline from doing research on-line. There is some info out there to help you with this, however if are not so inclined to do it yourself, the place you buy the sled generally will have some for sale. The trick is, you WILL need to know how to repair lines or dog harness at some point, so making your own is not the worst thing you can do.
I have used up to 4 dogs on this particular sled, but depending on the size of dog, you might want to reduce that number.
A larger number of dogs or larger dogs could pull the sled apart as it was not made for traditional dog sledding or going at a high rate of speed. If you have more than four dogs, a traditionally built dog sled would be appropriate.
We (my dog and I) have pioneered what we call “Clicker Sledding”. As you may have already gathered, we DO NOT use any force to train our dogs, even in sledding. We use the clicker and food rewards. If a dog is unsure about pulling, it is important that you do not force the dog or get angry at him for not working.
There is always a reason a dog does not want to do something.
Many good pulling dogs, of any breed, are ruined by over-running them or by the handler stressing out about a training issue. This will make the experience of sledding something a dog wants to avoid rather than enjoy.
If you are interested in starting this with your dog, my series of clicker sledding training videos can be found below: