Skiing With Your Dog
Want to go cross country skiing with your dog? You can! Each season, more nordic centers are designating a portion of their trail system for skiers with dogs.
In most instances, if the dog trails are groomed, there will be a trail fee (often for both the skier and dog). Be sure to check on the ski area’s policy concerning dogs. Some will allow loose dogs, while others require dogs to be leashed or attached to the skier (called skijoring). When skiing or snowshoeing with your dog:
- Keep your dog under control at all times.
- Be particularly aware of your dog at the parking lot and trail head, where you’ll encounter skiers without dogs.
- Abide by all municipal animal control ordinances and city, state/province, and federal regulations.
- Have proof of current rabies vaccination.
- Be courteous to other skiers and snowshoers.
- Bag and remove any feces.
- Restrain dogs before and after skiing, either by attaching to leads, tying up, or by leaving them in your vehicle. Keep dogs within three feet of you or your vehicle.
Skijoring is Norwegian for ski driving. The sport originated in Scandinavia as a combination of cross country skiing and dog mushing. It’s skiing with one or more dogs attached to the skier with a line hooked to a wide waist belt. Skijoring requires solid skiing skills.
- Be able to cross country ski competently and don’t ski with more dogs than you can handle.
- Use proper equipment, including cross country skis, poles, boots, belt, shock-cord bungee line, and harness. Necklines are recommended for tandem dogs; do not use choke collars.
- When passing from behind, call out “Trail” and “On your right” (or left). If being passed, move to one side, slow down or stop, and pull your dog toward you. In head-on passes, pull to the right and pull your dog close to you.
- Yield to faster skiers coming downhill.
For more information about skijoring, a good resource is the book published in 2004, Ski Spot Run: The Enchanting World of Skijoring and Related Dog-Powered Sports, by Matt Haakenstad and John Thompson.
Skijor and Sled Dog Organizations
North American Skijor and Ski Pulk Association
PO Box 240573, Anchorage AK 99524
New England Sled Dog Club
R.R. #2 Box 262H Lyme, NH 03768
Alaska Skijoring and Pulk Association
PO Box 82843 Fairbanks, AK 99708