General Training Tips
Training is essential for both you and your dog. Here are a bunch of tips that we’ve found useful for getting into skijoring and getting the most enjoyment out of it.
- Set up for success. Always start and end with commands the dog knows well and can be successful with.
- Ask only for what the dog knows or what you can show the dog. For example: If you go out with two dogs and give the command “over gee”, and the dogs don’t do it, you need to be able to stop and move the dogs to the right side of the trail while you give the command again. Do not give a command you cannot correct if not done properly. It is recommended that if get one dog proficient with the commands before you add another dog to the team. The first dog will actually “teach” the newcomer what to do when you give a command.
- Say the dog’s name before the command to get the dogs attention, especially if you have been traveling quietly for several minutes.
- Praise the dog verbally for correct responses. Use the same tone and words when you feed the dog treats or dinner. The dog will associate that tone of voice and words with positive memories.
- For a beginner lead dog, use your body language to help telegraph the commands by leaning right or starting to turn right for a “gee” command.
- Always try to end with the dog wanting to do more.
- Walk the dog through a new situation, especially a timid or shy dog.
- Socialize your dog to be around other dogs and other people.
- Show other people how to approach your dog. Some dogs do not like people to reach above their heads. Always put your hand below the dog’s head to let it smell your hand and if it allows, pet the dog’s body, not the top of its head. Loud voices startle some dogs. Talk softly and in a low tone.
- Vary the routine so the dog doesn’t “know” where you are going. Go past your own driveway or vehicle frequently so the dog isn’t conditioned to stop at the vehicle or driveway.
- Practice, practice, practice all summer and fall with your dog in harness and you running or walking. If your dog becomes proficient in the off season at following commands, your ski season will start out much more positively.
- Practice your ski technique and condition yourself. The better the skier you are, the more fun you and your dog will have.