What is Dog Joring/Bikejoring/Skijoring?
Joring is Norwegian word ‘driving’ or ‘pulling,’ and dog joring is just that – having your dog pull you along, whether you’re skiing (skiijoring), skateboarding, or biking (bikejoring).
Dog joring refers specifically to the practice of having your dog tow you. Simply riding a bike with your dog running alongside isn’t joring – your dog must be pulling you for it to be considered joring.
What Kinds of Dogs Can Do Joring?
Most dogs 35 lbs and over can join in on joring. Sometimes smaller dogs are capable of joring as well, but they’ll likely need their owners to help out a bit more.
One big aspect of bikejoring and skijoring is personality. Some dogs love to pull, while others aren’t so into the idea. Your dog has to have energy and want to run. Some dogs aren’t so into running, and that’s absolutely fine – but that means they aren’t the best candidates for bikejoring or skijoring.
Dog Joring Training 101
Some breeds have an instinct for pulling and will pick joring up immediately. Other breeds need to be taught how it’s done. Either way, dog joring requires practice and training for both you and your dog. If your dog finds that he or she enjoys joring, it can be a very fun sport for pet and owner, building a strong relationship and bond through fun physical activity.
Remember, both you and your dog will need to be in decent physical shape for joring. Owners will need to have a strong core and good general physical endurance, which can be developed alongside your canine.
Curious about what exactly dog joring looks like? Take a look at this video!
Dog Joring Training: Start With Basic Walking
The first step to skijoring, bikejoring, or any dog joring training is teaching your dog good walking manners. If your dog wanders around when you walk, he’ll wander when you run as well!
You absolutely can’t have your dog zigzagging after rabbits while bikejoring or skijoring. Bad doggie behavior can be dangerous, as you could be thrown from your bike, skis, or other means of transportation.
Using a joring system means surrendering physical control of your dog. Instead of you leading the way, your dog is in physical control, with your ride will following the dog’s pulling path. This is why it’s essential that your dog learn proper walking manners and how to listen to your verbal cues.
Dog Joring Verbal Commands
Since skijoring and bikejoing requires you to surrender physical control of your dog, you must substitute physical guidance with verbal guidance. Both your safety and your dog’s safety requires the understand and obedience of verbal commands.
- Stop / Whoa. Tells your dog to stop moving.
- Hike / Hike On / Let’s Go / Lead / Pull. Tells your dog to get going!
- Wait / Stand. A reminder to your dog to stand still and not move forward.
- Hup Hup / Hike Hike / Quick Quick / Pick It Up. Tells your dog to go faster.
- Slow. Tells your dog to slow down.
- Leave it / Get On. Tells your dog to ignore a distraction and continue moving.
- Gee / Right. Tells your dog to move towards the right.
- Haw / Left. Tells your dog to move towards the left.
- Straight. Tells your dog to continue straight through intersections without turning.
- Yield. Move off the trail. This command is often used when another musher or individual is intersecting with you.
- Cross. Tells your dog to cross to the other side of the path.
- Abit. A slight turn. Combine with other commands. For example, Gee Abit means take a light right at the fork.
- Visit. Tells your dogs when it’s OK to interact with other dogs.
- Take A Break. Tells dogs to relax for a bit and calm down.
A big thanks to BikeJor.com for providing information on many of these commands. Check them out for more bonus commands.
Practice is Perfect
You don’t want to rush training, and you may need to accept that teaching your dog how to respond to voice commands and helping them get adjusted to the joring system may take time. Allow several months for your bikejoring or skijoring training.
Many dog joring commands can be applied to daily walks. When walking along the road and turning right, say “right” or “gee.” You may need to put your hand on the leash and guide your dog where you want him to go, to help him get started.
Remember, always give plenty of praise when your dog does what you want him to. Repetition is key!
Joring Pratice With Equipment
Once your dog gets the hang of voice commands during walks, begin practicing walking with the joring system (we review a few of the most popular dog joiring systems here). Slowly get your dog acquainted with towing practice sessions, and never make the sessions more than 15 minutes.
You may have trouble getting your dog to lead rather than follow. Skijoring and bikejoring requires that your dog be walking in front of you, and some dogs aren’t used to this. For this reason, it sometimes helps to have a 2nd person ahead of your dog, encouraging him and giving praise.
Don’t overdue it. Know your dog and his limitations, don’t exhaust him. Dog’s need to slowly work up to get in shape too!
Bikejoring and Skijoring Equipment
You and your dog will need to be outfitted with the right gear before beginning your bikejoring or skijoring adventures. You may wonder, why won’t a collar and leash suffice? Here’s why:
- A collar and leash can injure your dog. Collars are not meant to be used for towing, and your dog will quickly injure itself trying to pull you by its neck. A dog joring harness allows your dog to use their body weight to pull you without hurting themselves.
- Dog joring harness and equipment teachers your dog when to pull. It can be quite confusing for dogs to start pulling – for many years, you probably told them pulling was bad! Using a special harness and dog joring system helps your dog distinguish between special bikejoring/skijoring time vs. normal walking. Your dog will learn which gear is meant for which activity.
- Shock absorbing tow line. For skijoring/bikejoring, humans wear a special waist belt that attaches to the dog’s harness by means of a bungee cord. The bungee cord absorbs pulling shock, allowing dogs and owners to run without constantly yanking each other.
If you’re wondering what gear to get, we recommend the Ruffwear Omnijore. It’s one of the most popular dog joring systems and provides optimal safety and comfort for skijoring/bikejoring.
Want to get exercise with your pup, but not up for joring? You might want to try canicross – it’s a similar concept, but has your dog helping pull you along while you are both running on foot!
Dog joring is a rewarding activity that helps humans and dogs get exercise while also building a strong bond between pet and owner. We hope we’ve provided you with the information you need to begin you adventures in dog joring!