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Dogtrekking

author Lucy Byrne | Sport and travel

What’s it about?

Under the name of dogtrekking, imagine an orientation walk with the dog. Official rules rank it among extreme dog endurance sports. As the name suggests, treks with a dog are characterized by both a more demanding terrain and the length of the route, which is around 100 km (the minimum according to the official rules is 80 km). The trek is usually for more days and counts with the possibility of an overnight stay in beautiful nature.

In the Czech Republic, it’s a relatively young sport that, according to available sources, appeared here after the year of 2000. And although a number of enthusiasts pursue this sport informally, there have been a relatively little dogtrekking events or undertakings (in the words of dog-trekkers) since then. What conditions do you actually have to meet as participants in dogtrekking?

Basic features of dogtrekking

  • Dogtrekking will train your orientation: the aim is to complete a previously set up route at an official undertaking, using a map, itinerary and within a given time limit.

  • Dogtrekking will test not only your physical fitness, but also mental. The demanding nature of the terrain and the whole-day stay outdoors with a sense of reliance on you alone, will do for anyone at first.

  • Dogtrekking will strengthen the mutual relationship with your dog partner, since you’re not alone for the trek, you have your four-legged partner with you, with whom you’ll deepen the relationship and mutual understanding thanks to the moments spent together and performed physical work.

  • Dogtrekking will support mutual fidelity: for the whole time of the walk, you have to be connected to your dog, whether using a leash or with a cord between the dog’s harness and the back wrap of the dog handler.

  • Dogtrekking will make adventurers out of you: hundred-kilometer distances, several kilos of load, time limit, spending a night under the open sky and the incredible feeling of satisfaction, when you arrive to the finish line. All of this will turn you into excited adventurers pretty soon.

  • Dogtrekking teaches respect: this dog sport doesn’t only teach respect towards nature, but to yourself and to your dog, but also to other participants and their dogs. You can walk the trek both together in a group or alone, if you prefer peace and solitude.

Equipment

And what will you need for dogtrekking? Among basic equipment of the dog and its master belong the following:

  • a leash and a collar;

  • extendable cord;

  • dog harness;

  • back wrap or belt;

  • dog backpacks or bags;

  • other accessories such as protective shoes for the dog (2 shoes per dog), for example, or a raincoat for the dog (optional).

At an official dogtrekking undertaking, the obligatory equipment for the couple dog handler – dog for their joint walk is determined by the organiser (in the so-called propositions). What you’ll always definitely pack in the backpack with you: a sleeping bag, sleeping mat (or an allu mat, blanket or a hammock), headlamp, map, first aid kit, dog food and water for the dog (min. 1 litre) including a bowl, food and water for you.

How to get started?

Dogtrekking, similarly as canicross, ranks among the dog sports which, according to the words of the organisers, are for everyone. So, it doesn’t depend much on the size or on the breed of the dog. However, what determines this discipline from the start, is yours and your partner’s certain physical fitness. But I’m a living proof, that it’s possible to survive an (unofficial) trek with the dog even without great physical fitness, that you’ll both improve with time anyway :-).

A great advantage is, that as with canicross, you can take advantage of the support of your dog and using its pull, if you’re connected by a cord between the harness and the back wrap, you’ll overcome the demanding mountainous terrain easier. You definitely don’t have to start right off with a 100km route, but you can try a shorter track for yourself (I recommend 30 – 40 km at least).

A whole number of outdoor agencies today already offer an “experience” in the form of one- to three-hour tours harnessed to a sled dog. If you don’t have your own dog, but you’d like to try this sport, this is an ideal opportunity. This option is already offered by some mountain hotels. Since dogtrekking largely takes place in mountain environment. You can take part in a dogtrekking undertaking in most Czech mountains as well.

Definitely don’t hesitate to  get advice from internet forums, dog trekkers are generally very friendly and they will always help. Maybe you’ll even find new partners for trekking trips :-).

How do you like this dog sport? Have you already got some experience with it? Share it with other readers :-).

(Source: www.dogtrekking.info)