Skiing with Dogs? Check Out Michigan’s Trails While Skijoring {Video}

Members of the Noquemanon Skijor Club make sure their canine companions have just as much fun getting outside in the winter as they do.

“Winter is long here in the U.P. and you have to really embrace winter,” said club member Dave Nyberg. “We have beautiful trails and beautiful snow in the U.P. and getting out with the dogs is a way to kind of let loose and enjoy being outside and recreating.”

On a recent night, Nyberg was pulled by his dogs Copper and Thule as he skied behind them, the basic concept of skijoring. The dogs yipped and circled in excitement as they were released from Nyberg’s vehicle, then turned their full attention to the task of leading.

“The dogs love skijoring,” said Lindsay McWebb, a founder of the club and current vice president. “Dogs just naturally want to run. Most dogs take to this sport really well and easily.”

A variety of dog breeds love to pull their humans, including Golden and Labrador retrievers, German shorthaired pointers, and Alaskan huskies, McWebb said.

Officially started in 2012, the club partners with the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) to host the annual Animoosh Skijor Race and meets regularly at the Forestville Trailhead on club nights.

McWebb said the sport allowed her to combine her love of dogs and skiing, which is true for many.

“I think people find skijoring appealing because they usually like to cross-country ski, they love dogs, and it just helps piece both of those things together,” she said.

A misconception about skijoring is that the dogs do all the work. McWebb said it’s a team effort between human and canine.

“If you don’t try to ski with your dog, they will stop and stare at you,” she explained. “Your dog will be as fast as you can ski and vice versa.”

Want to try skijoring? McWebb advises that people be confident in their skiing abilities to start. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should be able to control your speed and be able to start and stop yourself so as not to hinder others on the trail behind you.

The gear to get started is minimal, another attractive aspect of the sport. Provided you already have ski equipment and a dog, you just need a dog-pulling harness, a belt, and a line that connects you to your pet.

She recommends linking up with local skijoring clubs, whose members can help you figure out the best way to start. If you’re in the Marquette area, McWebb runs Atlas Skijor Kennel, and can help you give it a trial run.

You can also visit the Noquemanon Skijor Club’s Facebook page to see if there are any upcoming demonstrations.

Watch this video of some of the dogs and their owners in action:

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Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

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