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Rollerjoring: A Ruff Way to Skate

By Richard Dale-Mesaros

Copyright © Richard Dale-Mesaros

I'm trying to remember when I first tried hooking a dog to my body when I was on my blades. Actually it was in the summer, and we had just designed our skijoring belt. We couldn't use skis, because there was no snow, so we had to go with the blades! Everything went really well, but I guess a big part of that was because our dogs knew their commands.

Rollerblading with your dog, or Rollerjoring, requires two main ingredients. First, it really helps if you can teach your dogs some useful commands to help keep things under control. Second, you need to have pretty strong blading skills and be able to stop with confidence.

As with Skijoring, the two of you are working together as a team rather than just standing there and letting the dog pull you along while you admire the view! So, it's a team effort and when things are working well it's awesome cruising along with your best friend. When things aren't going so well it's not very pleasant. Some basic guidelines can make the whole experience much more successful for both of you. All of this stuff applies to skijoring and bikejoring as well as rollerjoring.

The Dog:
Let's start with the dog power. You will have the best chance of success if you have a thirty-pounds-plus partner who is fairly level-headed and responds well to his current commands such as sit, stay, etc.

The Commands:
When you're ready for blast-off, it's much easier if your dog isn't jumping all over the place as you compose yourself, so Stay comes in handy! Useful commands you need to teach your dog are

  • Gee for right
  • Haw for left
  • On-by which means keep going rather than stopping to sniff
  • Easy for the downhills
  • Whoa for stop
  • Hike! for giddy-up

    Getting these commands across to your dog is best done on a one-on-one basis, on the leash, whenever you go out for a walk. Ideally this command training will be done on a trail with lots of intersections to practice gee and haw. Obviously each time your dog performs a command successfully you should go nuts with praise as with usual dog training. Even if your dog hasn't quite got the hang of whoa, when you're on your blades saying whoa and applying the brake at the same time he'll at least back off somewhat, making it easier for you to brake. Once you're out blading together you'll find yourself in constant dialogue with your dog and the more tuned into what he's doing/about-to-do, the easier it is. The great thing about this sport is that you develop a much closer bond with your dog - there's something really neat about being hooked up together and working as a team!

    The Equipment:
    The equipment you'll need is the usual blading stuff, along with (ideally) a skijoring set-up, which will set you back about eighty bucks - not bad for getting onto some dog power! The skijor set-up is:

  • Skijoring Belt (like a climbing belt with the leg loops)
  • Quick-Release (to separate from the dog)
  • Bungee Line
  • Dog Harness
  • You may want to get your dog some booties if he has the type of paws which tend to wear easily on blacktop, unless you're going on the dirt roads with the off-road blades.
  • I oftentake my ski poles so I can train for skijoring, too.

    The Technique:
    Okay, let's start out! It's probably worthwhile to have someone else there to hold onto your dog while you get ready to go, just in case he lunges around as you are trying to get your balance. Say an enthusiastic "hike-up" as your dog sets off and in the initial charge you may feel more secure if you hold onto the bungee line for balance at first. Use a flat piece of terrain with no distractions until you are confident that you can control your dog with commands. It's very important to brake when your dog slows down, to prevent the bungee line from slackening. A slack line can get caught in your dog's legs, or you can skate over it and experience the rapid braking effects of a rope under rollerblades! Stay focused on your dog so that you can anticipate what heis about to do and shout the relevant command to avoid disaster!

    That's it in a nutshell. If you need more information let me know. As far as AllTerrainDog.com is concerned, we are basically at the cutting edge of dog powered sports and doing active stuff with your dog. We aim to be THE place to come for any kind of active sport with your dog! We have six sled dogs and do every conceivable dog powered activity with them, year round.

    ~ Richard "my dog has no brakes" Dale-Mesaros

    About the author...

    Richard, a native of England, resides in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his wife, Lidia and five sled dogs. He and his wife ran their business, AllTerrain Dog.com, from home, and the company was a commercial reflection of their passion for dog-powered sports. They can frequently be seen together in New Hampshire on bikes, skates, skis or dogsled, hooked up to one or more of their dogs.

    Richard is an inline skating fanatic and he enjoys both on-road and off-road skating, with and without his canine friends. After skiing all over Europe as a member of the England Ski Team and running several different businesses, he established AllTerrainDog.com to combine his business experience and love of the outdoors. He has chosen to settle down in the mountains, where he can endulge his passion for fun and fitness during all four seasons of the year.

    Talk About Skating With Dogs In Our Forum
    Have you ever tried skating with your dog? Do you have any tips for skaters who want to try it? Post a note in the Skating With Dogs Discussion in the SkateLog forum at AskAboutSkating.com.

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