One of the canine sports that has gained the most followers in recent years is dryland mushing, also referred to as urban mushing. Although its recent popularity suggests that it is a fashionable sport, it really is simply an adaptation of one of the oldest activities: the use of a sled pulled by dogs. Its history goes back to 2,000 BC, when the working relationship between dogs and men began.
Mushing, which was formerly a means of transportation, has become a competitive sport, where mushers from all over the world and their teams of sled dogs cover a long distance in extreme weather conditions. These competitions keep alive the tradition of dogsledding and highlight the key role that mushers and dogs had in the history and development of the vast and frozen northern regions of America and Europe.As the passion for mushing is not only exclusive to the winter months, a new generation of sports fans has managed to practice it in different climates, forms, and with different dog breeds. Click To Tweet
Dryland sports offer different variants. They can be practiced with or without snow, on wheels, skates, skis or sneakers, and even in the heart of a big city.As long as your team has at least one canine companion, you can find the type of mushing that best suits your needs. Click To Tweet
Types of dryland dog sports
All forms of mushing consist of using the pulling force of one or more dogs to drag or move a weight attached to the gangline using a harness. For this reason, this type of activity is often called a harness sport. Mushing on snow can include:
- Dogsledding: you can learn more about dogsledding through our interview series: Through The Eyes Of A Musher
- Skijoring: the musher uses skis and a belt to which the gangline is attached. The dog(s) and the musher combine forces to slide on snow in a similar way to cross-country skiing.
- Pulka: the pulka is a sledge used to transport objects, which the dog pulls and to which the musher, on skis, is attached to.
The different types of urban mushing that are practiced on land depend on what type of vehicle, if any, is at the end of the gangline. These include:
- Bikejoring: the musher uses a bicycle with or without pedals, depending on whether he is being pulled by one or two dogs.
- Canicross: the dog(s) are attached directly to the waist belt of the musher by a line with shock absorbers, which consist of an elastic section designed to adjust to variations in movement and protect you and your dog.
- Skatejoring: the dog(s) pull the musher, who can use a skateboard or skates to slide forward.
- Carting: the dogs, two or four, pull a cart with wheels and a seat, where the musher is seated. This device can be called sulky, tricycle or cart according to whether it has two, three or four wheels, respectively.
- Scooter: the musher stands on a type of scooter tied to the end of the gangline.
In theory, all dogs can be trained for mushing. However, an energetic dog weighting more than 30 pounds is considered ideal.The type of activity that you practice will determine the amount of energy expenditure for your dog.
Canicross, for example, requires a synergy between the dog and the runner, which makes it less demanding than other sports, where the dog will use all its strength to pulling your entire weight forward. A combination of pulling and running is a good option for more energetic dogs to spend all their excess energy.
So, it is no longer mandatory to have a magical snow-covered landscape to able to practice a sport with your dog. It is only necessary to have one or more four-legged teammates of an appropriate size and be eager to have a good time.
Taking up a sport with your dog can not only provide you with a loyal “workout buddy“, but also strengthen your bond by helping you learn to work together a as team.
And who knows, you may end up joining a community of canine sports enthusiasts and traveling the world with your dog to attend or participate in different events!