In honor of the Winter Olympics kicking off this weekend, and in an attempt to make the best of this beastly weather some of the US has been having, let us present some fun winter sports to try out with your dog.
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Originally demonstrated at the 1928 Winter Olympics in Switzerland, this sport consists of one person on skis being towed behind some source of directional force, be it animal or machine. In the case of the original demonstration, the force was applied by a horse, but for those without a fancy equine companion, a medium to large sized dog will do perfectly well.
Now bear in mind, this is no sport for the faint of heart. Only those with adequate skiing experience should attempt it, and beyond that, you should only try out skijoring if your dog is able to follow basic commands like “stop” and “stay.” Skijoring can get out of hand very quickly if you are being pulled behind a dog whose sole interest is chasing down a rabbit.
To get started down the exhilarating road of skijoring, you are going to need a harness for your pooch, bungees, a tug line, and a belt. Also, a pair of skis always helps, and a helmet -- safety first!
2. Sled Dog Racing
From the legendary Iditarod to your backyard, sled dog racing is a staple in the canine winter sport circuit, and while it may require a little more “dog-power” than skijoring, you don’t need a team of Baltos to drag you around the park.
To attempt this sport, you either need two medium sized dogs that are able to work together, or one big powerful pooch that can pull you around on their own.
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Again, it's best to make sure your dogs have a good understanding of the commands “stop” and “wait” before attempting.
3. Weight Pulling
Fun for dogs of all sizes, weight pulling is a surefire way to keep your pooch well exercised and occupied during the colder months. All you need is a harness, a sled, and some bricks and you are off to the races. Just remember to start off small and work your way up gradually so you don't harm your dog.
If you keep at it, you will start to see an increase in you dog's overall strength and stamina, and this is true about even the tiniest dogs. But remember -- the stronger they become, the harder they can pull you during a walk, so either make sure they know how to heel, or start hitting the gym, too.
4. Snowball Fight
Now this is an easy one. If you are like many of us this year, chances are you are surrounded by this clumpy white stuff. Why not toss some your dog's way? Literally. Instead of playing a game of fetch, just lob them some nice, fat snowballs and watch as they scamper after them.
A snowball fight has a few extra levels of entertainment value, since the object the dog is after is made of snow, which disappears the second they get their mouth around it. Or, even better, should they miss a catch, letting the snowball land back in the snow, watch as they look for that ball for minutes, trying to discern exactly which piece of snow it was that they were looking for. Hilarious.
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