One fun way to promote exercise and fun for both yourself and your dog is dog scootering. This is an activity in which your dog is harnessed to a special dog scooter.
Much like traditional mushing in which dogs pull a sled, the dog pulls the scooter–and you!–along a track or trail. It falls under the dog mushing sports category though it is performed on dry land rather than snow.
Mushing has long since been part of human history. Dogs have pulled carts, sleds, and other objects to help their owners deliver trade goods and to help travel for centuries.
While some still use dogs professionally in this capacity, mushing has become far more recreational.
What is dog scootering? Sometimes called dryland mushing or urban mushing, dog scootering is an activity that involves a dog hauling a rider on a scooter. The dog is attached to the scooter and essentially powers it by dragging it along behind them. Dog scootering can be both recreational and competitive.
If you’re interested in getting your dog ready for dog scootering, then there are a few aspects that you should know. Read on to find out how you can get started with the exciting sport of dog scootering.
Dog Scootering Explained
Dog scootering is an off-shoot of traditional sled dog mushing. Popularly used in Alaska, mushing and its sports equivalents have slowly spread across the country. Dog scootering is just the next evolution.
It can be done using a single dog or several dogs. Depending on the handlebars your scooter has, dogs can either run at the front of the scooter or alongside.
For those who are interested in trying dog scootering professionally, it’s important that you have your dog comfortable with leading in the front of the scooter.
The scooter itself is different than what you might picture a scooter to be. It has large wheels that almost resemble a mountain bike’s wheels.
It’s also larger and longer than the average foot scooter. This added length and size adds some stability to the bike. However, it also means that your dog has more to pull.
There are many reasons why owners introduce dog scootering to their dogs. The first is that it allows them to keep their dog fit.
Dogs who have high energy levels or who just love to run are excellent candidates for dog scootering. Those owners who also perform skijoring or traditional sleddog mushing in the winter also use dog scootering as a way to keep their dogs in shape during the warmer months.
However, owners also introduce dog scootering to their dogs because of competition. There are numerous races held throughout the United States–as well as in foreign countries–in which their dogs can take part.
In those competitions, there is either a single dog that drags the scooter or a team of dogs. They’ll have to pull the scooter and its rider through a trail to the finish line.
Getting Started with Dog Scootering
Dog Scootering Training
If dog scootering is something that you’re interested in trying out, then you need to know how to introduce your dog to it. First, you should have your dog become used to their harness.
It’s different than the standard leash in that it wraps around most of the body. Once the dog is comfortable wearing the harness, you have to teach them how to pull a weight.
Pulling weights is a great way to improve the level of fitness in your dog and have them become accustomed to dragging the weight of the scooter.
If your dog is slightly out of shape, then you should start with a small weight. Stand in front of them and encourage them to come to you.
As their strength grows, continue to add to the weight until it matches what they’re going to be pulling with the scooter and you attached.
The next hurdle you need to jump is having your dog learn how to lead the scooter. You can do this by running ahead of it while they pull the weight. Dogs also have a tendency not to run in a straight line.
This is where commands come in handy. Give them verbal instructions on turning left, right, and staying on the path. Hearing those commands will help guide them on the path ahead.
Training should never occur during hot temperatures. It can cause dehydration and seriously injure your dog. Dog scootering competitions take place when the temperatures are cool or slightly warm.
When in doubt, you can always sign up for dog scootering training from professionals. Once you understand the basics, you should be ready to get started.
The Scootering Setup – What Equipment Do You Need?
One of the first pieces that you’ll need is a racing harness. Stay away from cheap harnesses as these can break easily.
Here’s a really well-made one on Amazon.
They may not also come with the properly adjustable straps that allow a dog to breathe and pull the scooter correctly in regards to their anatomy.
The next piece you’ll need is a rope or line. You may be tempted to use a standard leash. Don’t. The length won’t be long enough to keep your dog at a safe distance ahead of you.
Look for lines that are adjustable and allow some give. This will help prevent potential disasters if your dog suddenly stops. This line is perfect and even has a built-in shock-absorbing section. Check it out on Amazon, here.
To ensure that the line doesn’t become entangled with the wheels of the scooter, you’ll need a leash adapter or scooter attachment. Some even have shocks that can help make riding the scooter even smoother.
They are sometimes called antenna. Here are a few different antenna styles to consider depending on your scooter design.
Finally, you’ll need a scooter. The one typically used for dog scootering is known as the Kickbike. This bike has been used for over 25 years. It was first used to help train dogs for pulling sleds in winter.
There are many different models. You should try a few to see which suits you and your dog best. We’ve put a few different ones together for you, which you can view on Amazon.
Dog Scooter Options
Best Breeds For Dog Scootering
While any dog that weighs at least thirty pounds is suitable for dog scootering, there are some breeds that do it just a little bit better. Mushing is a popular sport for Huskies and German Shepherds.
While Huskies are pretty great for dog sledding, they’re also considerably good at dog scootering, too. However, you need to keep the coat of the dog in mind.
Longer-haired dogs might have a difficult time running for long distances in the warmer weather. You’ll also want to consider dogs who have longer legs since they can travel longer distances with one movement.
Dogs are able to pull up to two to three times their weight. This includes both the scooter and the rider. So, if the rider happens to weight a lot, then they might want to look for a larger breed of dog or use multiple dogs.
Other dog breeds that have been popularly used for dog scootering include:
- Pit Bulls
- Great Danes
- Doberman Pinschers
It should be noted that dogs have to be at least 18 months old before they are able to start training for dog scootering. This includes participating in races and competitions.
What other mushing sports are there for dogs?
There are a ton of different dog sports available throughout the year. In the spring and summer, you can also participate in bikejoring.
It’s similar to scootering except with a bike. Skijoring is another popular mushing sport that takes place in the winter. Finally, there is traditional dogsled mushing that also takes place in winter.
How fast can a dog-powered scooter go?
The speed in which you can travel largely depends on the athleticism of your dog, its size, and whether you’re going uphill or downhill.
Dogs who are extremely fit have been known to reach up to 35 miles per hour on level ground. Others may only reach a top speed of 12 miles per hour on level ground.
Image Credit: ashleigh290