This document will detail the curriculum for an introduction to
mushing class, first given 2 August 2008. It assumes you are familiar
with training lexicon: Cathy Toft
does an excellent job of explaining what the words mean, please
familiarize yourself with them. It should take about 10 minutes or
Mushing is a generic term that encompasses all of the following pulling
sports: bladejoring, bikejoring, skijoring, sledding, scootering. Since
much of the year is not snow covered I generally train on a wheeled
vehicle, usually a 2 wheeled scooter. My two 50 lb dogs (one samoyed,
one collie) have been clocked pulling me (I'm 173 lbs) at a max rate of
19.6 mph. That is really, really fast.
Although I am an R+/P- trainer I do not rely much on the clicker for
training scootering. This is because when my dogs are pulling me at
tremendous speeds I am too busy grabbing on to my handlebars ready to
activate the brakes to be working anything else with my hands. I'm just
not that dexterous. Nevertheless, nearly everything you will read in
any articles about clicker apply to the way I train for scootering. I
use no aversives whatsoever. No choke chains, no prong collars, no
shock boxes. I'm not saying you can't effectively train using
aversives, and I am not saying that aversives are inherently abusive. I
am saying that aversives are not required, and that you can effectively
train without them.
Please bring the following materials to class. Astrisks mark things we can share:
- Your dog(s)
- A non-aversive collar. Acceptable collars include Martingale
-style limited slip collars, buckle collars, walking harnesses, pulling
harnesses. Please do not bring any aversive collars (no choke chains,
no prong collars, and no shock boxes)
- As we are meeting inside the dog park please bring your park pass.
- Water & a bowl. *
- 2 pieces of twine, each about 3 feet long *
- 2 milk jugs (empty or with pebbles in them) *
- Something you can use to reward your dog, such as yummy treats.
- Shoes in which you can run
I will be bringing the following:
- A flexi leash
- Spare pulling harnesses
- My dogs, to use for demos
Please check with your vet that the following are true:
- Your dog is up to date with all vaccinations.
- Your dog has no serious health problems
- Your dog has no dysplasia. OFA certification is not necessary -
it is gross overkill - but if dysplasia is suspected please do
not become involved in sports with your dog without vet clearance.
We will not be pulling any substantial weight, so underage dogs are
welcome BUT please check with your vet prior to pulling any substantial
weight. An under-age dog will probably greatly enjoy pulling but will
end up arthritic a few years from now.
- The first few minutes I'd like to
just get to know you and watch your dog playing. Huskies like to bare
teeth during play; don't worry about it. I'm really just looking to see
if they get along with other dogs.
- I'll tie two (empty) milk jugs to your
dog. Most dogs don't seem to get too upset with the noise they
generate; some dogs (a few) are really freaked out. My late Harley was
really spooked by it, but most dogs can be trained to not worry
- I want to then hook your dog on my flexi
and see if they will run out ahead of you. I'll have a long PVC pole
which can be attached to your dog's collar; if they aren't sure what
you are asking them to do sometimes a little nudge to push their collar
will help.The nudge should be very gentle, you are not punishing your
dog, nor are you trying to force them to move. You are trying to
explain that you want them to run in front of you. You'll need lots of
verbal praise when they do the right thing. If they remain clueless a
confederate (me) will use a treat to lure them, but treats need to be
faded very fast.
- Here is the list of basic commands your
dog will eventually need to know, in order of importance. I'll show you
how to train 1,2, and 3.
- HIKE: move out, go forward
- HAW: turn left and GEE, turn right
- WHOA, stop
- ON BY: Ignore that really interesting distraction and keep going
- LINE OUT: Tighten the line but don't start the sled/scooter moving
- I'd like to put a flexi on your dog and see if I can convince them to run a short (very short) distance.