Dog scootering is a pulling sport. Pulling sports include carting
(dog pulls a person or an object in a cart), scootering (dog pulls someone on a kick scooter), skijoing (dog pulls
someone on skis), bikjoring (dog pulls someone on a bike), bladjoring
(dog pulls someone on roller blades), dog sledding, other mushing
sports, and weight pull (where a dog drags a significant weight a short
distance). Scootering has typically been grouped with mushing sports
(which also includes dog sledding) for historical reasons.
Dogs have been pulling carts since at least Roman times. Dogs have
been pulling sleds and travois at least that long. Many breeds of dogs
were developed specifically for that activity (such as St. Bernards,
Newfoundlands, Huskies, and others). Most non-toy breeds can pull
the individual dog is so inclined. While dogs should not be asked to
pull more than 2 1/2 times their weight in carting on a flat hard
surface, that restriction does not apply to scootering if the human is
willing to help provide the motive power.
I got involved in dog carting by reading about it in a library book on a commuter train.
I had two collies at home, Cosmo and Harley, and decided this
would be a fun activity for us. My goal was to get my dogs to pull kids
around in a home-made cart. I built a cart and started making contacts
on the internet. I discovered a world of carting, and it turned out I
was not the only one using a dog not bred to pull. My dogs pulled kids
around the neighborhood at a walking pace.
I had also learned about advances made in training based on scientific research. You can read a good summary of that on Cathy Toft's website. By the time I started carting I had been educated by Narnia (my favorite dog school) and I trained without the use of aversives.
Harley died of cancer, and we decided to get a dog from a close friend
who bred collies. Suki entered our lives. Suki was bred for
conformation and for performance; she was the first performance dog I
got to know well. She was stunningly athletic. At the dog park she
could almost keep up with the greyhound speed bursts, but unlike the
greyhounds she never seemed to tire. I started training her to pull a
cart, and realized this was not going to be adequate. She wanted to
run, not walk, but the cart I had was not stable enough for that. She
needed a demanding job to do, and walking in front of a cart wasn't
enough. I considered flyball and agility.
Someone at the dog park told me she was in a mushing club and invited
me to come to a training session. I figured Cosmo would love it (since
he was well trained carting) so I agreed. I showed up one morning and
put Cosmo in a harness and in the dog line. He despised it instantly,
digging in when the other dogs wanted to run. I immediately pulled him
off the line. Since I had Suki with me
as well I decided to try her in the line.
Suki thought she'd died and gone to heaven. She became a mushing
devotee instantly. She came back from her first experience pulling with
other dogs with her tongue hanging out, panting, as happy as she could be.
We trained for two years with a local group (I designed their early
and created most of the content). After my second season with them I
adopted a rescued samoyed to add to my team. However, my use of
exclusively reward based training on my own dogs grossly offended one
of the founders who believes it impossible to properly train a
mushing dog without use of aversives, so we parted company. I continued
my training alone at first, and then with my
Elder and his golden retreiver Sam, and eventually Pam Wait & her
husky Kodiak. We train with
two wheeled scooters on a local trail. My two dogs entered their first
race at the Dirty Dog Derby in 2006. We have since entered several
other races. We don't have a winning team, but we certainly have a lot
I encourage anyone interested in scootering (or mushing) in the
Naperville/Wheaton area to join
us. All non-abusive training styles are welcome. No shock boxes please: they have no place in
dog sports and are likely to cause fights. We have a few spare
harnesses you can borrow while training, and can help you purchase one
(they are about $20); you'll need to measure your dog before you order
one online. I will not use aversives when I train, but if
you are confident you know what you are doing you are free to use them
on your own dog(s). Many but not all dogs can be taught to pull; many
not all dogs who like to run will enjoy pulling a scooter. I'll be
happy to offer whatever assistance I can. There is no fee. Please do
not bring any dogs who have problems getting along with other dogs or
with people. If your dog is under 18 months or has any health related
issues please check with your vet. Young dogs can be taught to pull but
should not be allowed to pull substantial weights (including a scooter)
until their growth plates are fully mature.
While dogs bred for pulling (such as Malamutes, Huskies, Samoyeds) are
easier to train a substantial number of dogs from breeds not generally
associated with pulling (GSDs, Collies, Golden Retreivers, Labrador
Retreivers) really enjoy it. Come try it out with your dog!