Katarina Vigodová advises on how to prepare for skiing with a dog (part 1)

Winter is showing off in all its glory. And winter sports fans are setting off for the mountains. They're often accompanied by their four-legged friends. Especially more and more popular is becoming ski mountaineering. Furry companion's presence is becoming more common also on cross-country trails. We asked Katarina Vigodová, a Slovak musher, how to prepare before setting off skiing with your dog. She advises owners not to overestimate their abilities.

What would you advise someone who is preparing to set off with their dog for the first time? 

It's definitely better to have previous experience in ski mountaineering and therefore be aware of what's to come. This way we can concentrate on enjoying spending time with the dog, rather than fighting to survive. A small practice beforehand or a more careful start is definitely recommended. The trail should be chosen based on our abilities, and its profile and difficulty adapted accordingly. 


I presume a classic lead isn't enough. What equipment is required?

For skijoring, it's good to have skating cross-country skis and a hipbelt that offers freedom of movement. Also a long bungee rope to ensure a sufficient distance between the end of the skis and the dog's back paws. Usually a classic 2.8 m log bungee rope, used also for scooters or bikejoring, is enough. A suitable dog harness goes without saying. It should be the length of the dog's back. 


What shouldn't the owner forget to pack for the dog?

It's important not to forget about the unpredictability of the weather and pack a warm layer for ourselves as well as for the dog. Having dog shoes in our pocket is alpha and omega whether we're planning to do a 5 km long loop on cross-country skis or an all-day trip. The change in snow conditions or an unexpected injury can always surprise us. It's good to be prepared and have shoes for all 4 paws, which will save the dog in case of an injury or prevent an injury on hard, frozen snow. 


You've mentioned injured paws from the snow. What if the dog cuts itself on the edge of the ski?

It's recommended to take a small first aid box on longer trips. Take at least Coban - which is an elastic dressing that can stop bleeding in case the dog, despite all the precautions, cuts itself on the side of the skis. 


Should the dog's nutrition be changed before, during or after the workout? And how?

It's a training or a trip like any other, so just keep feeding them like you're used to during training or when going for a trip. Don't underestimate hydration and always take a snack with you on longer trips. Ideally it should be small in size but high in energy value. Nobody likes running with a full stomach. 


Thank you very much, Katka, for today's introduction to how to get ready for skiing with a dog. Next time, we're going to continue with how to move with your dog when you get out there.



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