Carting / Canicrossing / Bike-joring?


This is the sport I have come to love.

I first started out canicrossing.

Ice my first husky learned to pull me...

...by running after the "rabbit".

Who's the rabbit you may ask?

Well it's my husband.

When you don't have an older dog to teach your younger dog the ropes of mushing the term rabbit comes into action.

Huskies LOVE to run after something and they like it even more to pull while doing so.

I got a regular back pack. Loaded it with about 10kg of weights so that I don't go airborne all the time and attached it around my waist, it's also great training for me.

This is where the gang line attaches.

Ice was a natural, but some dogs like my Labrador takes longer to figure out what to do. Some dogs may keep on looking back, but with practice they will get into it and forget about what is behind them. But as soon as he did there was no stopping him! He screams from excitement when we are lining out.

You see we all teach our dogs to walk at heel next to us. It can be hard for them to grasp that they may pull us when they are wearing the appropriate gear. But they soon learn that certain "clothes" - gear means different activities.

It's important to remember to always have fun!

Also you want your dogs to be safe and healthy while doing it. Check on them regularly. Look for things like gait changing, tail dropping and sore paws. Off course to be able to do this you need to know your dogs or know dogs in general VERY well. This is why I chose not to let other mushers run my dogs as it only takes one bad experience to ruin a dogs taste for mushing. This can easily happen when you don't know the dogs you are running with or maybe aren't as experienced. But also not every body uses the same cues when mushing.

Stop regularly to provide water for your dog if you run longer distances.

Mushing usually takes place when the chickens are still sleeping or after the sun goes down. Temps should not be higher then 15'C, depending on where you live. If cold in your area is -20'C then 15'C would be way to hot! But where we live in Cape Town 15'C and under is more or less a good guide line to go by.

After I had all my dogs accustomed to canicrossing I started one by one training them with my pink scooter that my dad custom made for me...He has since done a couple after the pink scooter...

At first Ice pulled to the left the whole time, so I changed the configuration so that Decota runs on the left and that sorted out the problem. If this does not work you could try using the break and asking your dog to run to the other side.

As you go on you will soon see when you can go further and add more distance. Trust your dogs and your instincts to guide you. Later on they might even get bored if you don't go far enough.

Some days may be great and other may be with little or no progress.

But that doesn't matter as long as you are all having fun. Never train your dogs when you are feeling mad, it's not fair to them as they can sense your mood and will react accordingly.

A Husky will give his all and will respond to your cues of Gee "turn right" and Haw "turn left" if you have taken the time to really bond with your husky or any other dog for that matter. Mushing is for any willing dog.

Lining out...

It's a term used for your dog pulling the line between you and your dog tight.

You should practice this before going out mushing, there is nothing as confusing as lines getting tangled and dogs walking back to you.

Tie a line to a gate or any fixed fixture.

Ask your dog to line-out by walking away from the tie out so that he will come forward towards you.

The moment he gets it right praise him and even treat him while saying good line-out.

If he comes back when you walk behind him he doesn't get lining out. He must be able to keep the line straight until you release him. It's even better if you could stand behind your dog when practicing so that the handler calls the dog forward and rewards with a treat so that your dog is used to lining out away from you. Do not say lining out the whole time. Only say the cue once the dog is lined out then say good line out. One he gets it then only ask for a line out without luring him with a treat. Then his treat will be come to GO! GO is the reinforcement.

This will make things a lot easier if your dog gets the line out cue.

If you don't have a handler "person to assist" it's a good thing to teach your dog the stay cue so that your dog does not run of with you before you are ready to go.

When I first got my scooter I let the scooter stay in the yard with the dogs so that they could get used to it.

Some dogs can be frightened by this big object running along after them as they pull. So it's always good to familiarize them with the rig.

When you canicross with your dogs, use a proper belt that supports your back. I use Man Mat's but there are a couple of good brands out there, but don't buy cheap stuff as you will be using this a couple of years and you need the right support for your back and gear that will hold the pulling action. Never let your dog ever pull by his neck, not only is it very dangerous, but also very unhealthy as it can hurt the dogs air passage permanently.

Bike-joring is usually 1-2 dogs pulling you on your bike. You do not peddle only when it is up hill and then using the breaks down hill. The dogs are attached to a tug line that is attached to the gang line that is attached to the bike important not to you. Because if you fall, strong athletic dogs will pull you with. Where as if it is attached to the bike or scooter the bike goes along hopefully getting stuck in a tree that works as a break for your dogs and you are not dragged along. It's the same with a sled. The question is not will you fall it is when will you fall. There is a difference between biking with your dog on a lead and running next to you and being attached to the bike pulling you. Some dogs crab, where they run to the side instead of in front. This way they are not able to really pull you, this usually happens with an experienced dog or a musher that peddles along, but the dog can be trained not to do that.

The most important thing of all to remember is to respect your dog at all times, never push them just because you want to win a race.

Do it because you love your dogs and want to spend time with them. Dogs are not objects they are with as much feeling as we are maybe even more so.

If we don't keep it fun and have the right intentions you will not get out of your dogs all they have to offer.

Respect and love them while doing this sport and it will be a bond that last a life time.


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Louise Basson on the Expresso Show talking about Huskies and Husky Rescue 2012.