Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Welcome to the wonderful world of mushing! The first thing that comes to your mind is most likely big teams of huskies running through the arctic for hundreds of miles, but it’s really so much more than that. There is long distance mushing, mid-distance, sprint, and the largest group of them all is micro mushers. Mirco mushing, what is that exactly? Well, it’s simply mushing on a smaller scale. We’ll be focusing on smaller teams for this blog post, but all this information can be applied to larger teams as well. The great thing about this is dogs of all shapes and sizes can join in on the fun and you can easily participate with just one or two dogs. It is great cross training for hunting dogs, agility and sport dogs, as well as the family pet who loves to get out and explore.
Canicross- Running with your dog. The runner wears a belt that sits low on the hips with leg straps to keep it in place. This is important so the runner is comfortable and the dog wears a harness appropriate for pulling. If your dog prefers to run by your side or is a light to moderate puller, then a half harness is appropriate. If your dog is a moderate to hard puller it is recommended to use a full length harness. Between the dog and runner is a bungee line often between 1.5-2m long to keep both safe and comfortable. Canicross has become very popular and it's a great way for both you and your dog to get in shape. Canicross is frequently used as the first step to introduce new dogs to the sport as you can run or walk at any pace and teach and build on the basics at a lower speed and with more control so when introducing a bike, sled, skis or anything else that typically travels at a higher speed, you and your dog are already working as a team and well prepared.
(Gear pictured: Non-Stop CaniX Belt, Non-Stop 2m Running Line, Non-Stop Free Motion Harness size 5 on a 45 pound Nova Scotia Duck Toller)
Cani-Hike- Using the same equipment as canicross, it is simply walking or hiking hands-free with your dog in the lead. This is a great way to hike with your dog on leash especially on more challenging terrain as the belt will help you keep your centre of gravity. This is becoming a very popular way to hike when backpacking. Bungee line length is typically between 1.5-2.5m depending on how much room you'd like between you and your dog. If travelling over rough terrain it's a good idea to give you and your dog a little extra space.
(Gear pictured: ZeroDC Day Hiker Belt, ZeroDC 2 Dog Bungee Line, ZeroDC Short Harness)
Skijoring- This requires the same equipment as canicross, though you will typically use a longer bungee line to keep distance between the dog and skis. A length between 2.7-3m is often used. Skate skis are the most popular for skijoring, however, classic skis can be used as well. It is always best to get some experience on skis before adding a dog to the mix.
(Gear Pictured: Non-Stop Dogwear Loype Belt, 2.8m Running Line, Free Motion Harness)
Bikejoring- Biking with your dog pulling in front. A full length harness is most commonly used as well as a bungee line between 2.5-2.7m long and bike antenna to keep the line from getting caught in the front tire. If your dog is a light to moderate puller then a half harness may work for them as well.
(Gear Pictured: Bike Antenna, Non-Stop 2.8m Running Line, Free Motion Harness, Protector Booties)
Scooterjoring- Using a mountain bike style scooter with dogs. This requires the same equipment as bikejoring, though some scooters as the one pictured don't need an antenna.
(Gear Pictured: 2.8m Non-Stop Running Line, Free Motion Harness)
Kicksledding- A smaller sled made for 1-4 dogs to pull. They can easily glide without dogs pulling, depending on the brand, they are generally light and able to fold down (We recommend the ESLA Kicksled with Bridle attachment). You must ensure the sled has a bridle attachment to connect dogs to which ensures the proper points of the sled are receiving the pulling force. You will also need a bungee line and full length harness on your dog. Large to giant dogs who are tall may need a harness with a spreader bar to relieve pressure from hips.
Dog Sledding- Typically a wooden or composite sled that can be pulled by 2+ dogs. These sleds should be outfitted with a brake, dragmat, and snow hook. It is recommended to use a denser bungee shock absorber section and a rope gangline for teams of 3+ dogs. As for harnesses a full length harness is traditionally used and preferred for most teams.
There are many ways to practice micro mushing. It is the most accessible way for most to get a taste of the mushing world without having to have a large number of specially bred dogs. We have even seen people on mountain boards and roller skates tying in elements of mushing, and then there are carts and rigs with three and four wheels which the driver stands on as they would a scooter but with the ability to safely run more dogs.
We are starting to see more and more dogs and people join in on the fun every year both recreationally and competitively. The best part about this is you get to go at yours and your dogs pace, you can stay close to home or travel to trails to explore and races all over, meet lots of wonderful and welcoming people. This gets you and your dog outside, strengthening your bond as teammates, and making memories.
We'd love to see your adventures!
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