Dog scootering could be the perfect canine sport for those of us who are envious of the athletic coolness of mushing, but just aren’t down with playing outdoors in frigid temps.
Not being the most graceful individual on the planet, I was a little leery of flying behind my chocolate Labrador, Wuppy, on some sort of tiny Razor scooter. Besides that, not many people over the age of nine look too hip on one of those contraptions. Turns out that’s not the type of scooter used at all! What is used is a more sturdy, unmotorized scooter with mountain bike-like tires, brakes and sometimes front shocks.
Now that’s the kind of quasi-retro conveyance I can dig. It’s also the one I’m the least likely to go careening off of, potentially injuring both myself and my precious dog.
The sport of dog scootering does use some of the same equipment as dog sledding, namely the harness. A gangline attaches the harness to the scooter. You can even use more than one dog, which is actually recommended if your pooch weighs less than 30 pounds.
You can teach your dog the same commands used in mushing, but I probably won’t. I have the utmost confidence in my dog’s ability to learn those, but not so much in myself. If I’m about to slam into a building or ongoing traffic, I know it’s going to be English directions tumbling out of my mouth. Of course we’ll have all common commands, like “whoa” and “leave it” down first.
I know that our lovely editor Julia only assigned this title to me because I’m known to want to try the things I write about. Well, surprise! I’m not giving Canicross a shot… although for an athletic person and a well behaved dog it could be a fun activity. My dog Bear has ‘ADD of the nose’ and just a normal walk around the block means me racing along behind her frantically as she runs back and forth following scents. Harness or not, I definitely won’t be trying Canicross with her!
Canicross is the sport of harnessing your dog and running or walking cross country. It’s similar to the sport of Skijoring which I’ve thoroughly explored here before. How is Canicross different, you may wonder, from simply taking a walk? Consider the actual idea of cross country walking or running – it’s a test of your endurance and stamina, strength and coordination to be able to travel long distances. Now think about heading up a large hill while you’re walking or running cross country. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a partner harnessed in front of you to give you a little bit of a pull?
Harnessing your dog for Canicross is much like harnessing him to a sled for pulling power. When you run or walk cross country with your dog you have a partner, a bit of extra strength. It also strengthens your bond with your dog to learn to work together as a team to get where you are going. Canicross does require that your dog learns to keep tension on the line while traveling at a speed that is comfortable for you. Your dog needs to be accustomed to a halter and to having some weight on the harness in order to learn the restraint and pace of Canicross.
It’s a given that all of the dogs and cats CANIDAE sponsors are talented; after all, they’re called Special Achievers for a reason. However, a 7-year old Pyrenean Shepherd named Rally is so good at freestyle flying disc that he (with his owner/handler Angela Ewtushik) recently got to show off his mad skills on Canada’s Got Talent, and made it to the Semi-Finals!
CANIDAE Sales Manager Caroline Pettersen said, “Although Angela and Rally didn’t win a place in the finals, they won a place in the hearts of Canadians. Angela and Rally went on a journey that most of us just dream about. We are very proud of Angela for being as brave as she was and putting herself out there the way she did. With an original desire to show people how to have fun with their dog…I believe she certainly made that impact on many.”
Indeed she did. In her CGT blog, Angela wrote “Eight months ago Rally and I waited in a hallway in the Rogers Centre for our turn to showcase our talent. I never thought that hallway would lead to several appearances on national TV and a huge fan base of Rally supporters from across Canada. This hit me minutes before the show. As the cameras were taping the audience, I gasped at the number of ‘Rally’ signs and the people cheering for him, many of whom I didn’t know. I had to turn away to find a makeup person to wipe my tears!”
I caught up with Angela recently to ask her more about this fun experience.
How did your act come to be? I was looking for an outlet for Rally’s energy. I saw some videos of canine freestyle disc and thought it would be something fun to try!
Inside every dog, there’s a potential for greatness, and all it takes to let your dog shine is to find what he loves to do, what his passion is. Dogs are a reflection of us and when you take the time to learn who your pet is, you might be surprised by what you find in his heart and yours.
‘Great’ has different meanings in the dictionary, according to how the word is used in a sentence. In this case, great (greatness) means outstanding, superior in character, important, noble or distinguished. Each of those words, in my view, aptly describes our canine friends. All dogs have a potential to achieve greatness when they are shown respect and given guidance to find their true calling.
My dogs will never star in a movie or win Best in Show. None of them will ever take first place in dock diving or fly through the air to catch a Frisbee in front of an adoring crowd. However, each one has achieved greatness simply by being. They aren’t perfect, and they try my patience at times. They love to join in and howl with the neighbor’s dogs when a siren is wailing. They bark at neighborhood cats and go crazy when a squirrel is in sight. But they’re all exceptional, in my eyes, and when one snuggles next to me and rests their head on my lap or against my chest and looks at me with loving eyes – that is greatness to me.
Not every dog is cut out to be a show dog or excel in agility. Not every dog has the drive or intensity to herd sheep or sniff out someone lost in the wilderness. A potential for greatness has nothing to do with competing in dog sports, being a therapy dog, or any other job we give to dogs. However, when you teach a dog how to weave through poles or catch a flying disc, you give him an opportunity to discover and learn something he could excel in.
Dog training isn’t a hard concept to grasp, and neither is teaching your dog. It’s a commitment you make to your pet. You are the teacher and your dog is your student. Some dog breeds are harder to train than others, not because they aren’t smart enough to learn, but because of their breed characteristics. Any dog can learn, if you take the time and commit to his education. Training a dog isn’t just about teaching basic commands. For some dogs, it’s also finding something they like to do and then teaching the necessary skills needed to succeed in whatever it is. You could say it’s a college education for your dog.
Most owners understand why their pet needs to know certain commands that help to keep them safe and under control. Dogs are also capable of learning things on their own just by watching and listening to us. My dogs figured out on their own what “back up” and “wait” meant because those are two commands I’ve always used when it’s time to go outside to their pen. “Back up” means give me a chance to open the basement door, and “wait” means let me get down the steps so you all don’t knock me down the stairs. It hit me one day when I forgot something and turned around. They were standing behind me patiently waiting for me to open the door. Yep, I had a light bulb moment and learned something about dog training at the same time.
Training shouldn’t be a boring chore for you or your dog. Make it fun and interesting – playtime with your dog. As long as there’s a commitment by you to reinforce what it is you want them to learn, they will learn, even if you don’t realize you’re teaching them. That’s the beauty of dog training. Most dogs do want to learn and are willing students who pay attention to what we say and do. Positive reinforcement, commitment, plenty of CANIDAE treats and praise are the tools you need to teach your dog.
Giving your dog a job to do isn’t a must, but if you have an energetic dog with a high prey drive or one that’s well socialized, friendly and likes people, you have a pet that could excel at agility or as a therapy dog. Of course, dog sports or jobs require additional training for the specific activity. In most cases, you can find classes that can help you teach your pet what they need to know. Langley Cornwell introduced us to the sport of Treibball earlier this year. It’s a growing activity for dogs of any size or age.
The word Schutzhund is German and means “protection dog.” Schutzhund is a very demanding canine sport for working dogs, to test their physical and mental abilities in a competition that measures tracking, obedience and protection. Although any dog breed can compete, the sport was developed for the German Shepherd as a way of showing off the dog’s intelligence, willingness to work, endurance, body structure, tracking ability, courage and ability to follow commands. It’s a sport that tests the dog and his handler. CANIDAE is proud to sponsor Russ Fox and his dog Artus who qualified for a spot on this year’s Team Canada and recently returned from the World Championships held in Kiev, Ukraine. I had a chance to talk with him about this exciting sport.
Russ and Artus live in Ontario, Canada. Russ is the K9 trainer for a large municipal police service outside of Toronto. He works with 12 service dogs which has helped him develop as a handler and trainer for his own sporting dogs. “Every dog is different in how he/she reacts to training. Where some dogs react well to food or toys in training, others will work for genuine praise from its handler.”
Russ was drawn to the sport of Schutzhund because of the precision needed in training a dog in all aspects of the sport in tracking, obedience and protection, and he wanted to learn how to develop that in his working dogs. “When selecting a sport dog, we look for many qualities, similar to selecting a police dog. We evaluate the dog’s various drives – food, toy, fight and play – all of these and more helps us train the dog to excel in the sport. We want a well-balanced dog that is a confident social animal with high drives and heart to do the work.”
Russ prefers to feed Artus CANIDAE All Life Stages formula dog food. “Schutzhund is a very demanding sport on the dogs both physically and mentally. Like any athlete, nutrition plays a critical role for these dogs to succeed. With CANIDAE, I know my dog is getting quality nutrition so that I will get the best performance from him. All Life Stages has met the demands that Artus goes through during training. I have also used the pureSEA Salmon formula for another sport dog, and she is doing extremely well on it.”
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.