When looking for activities to keep your high-energy Siberian Husky happy, healthy, and tired, why not consider urban mushing? After all, besides hooking your dog up to a sled for a leisurely 60-mile trek through the snow and cold, there is no other activity that fulfills your dog’s innate needs better. Interested in urban mushing but unsure where, or how, to begin? This handy guide will help.
What is urban mushing?
Mushing is a blanket-statement that describes any form of pulling by a dog for transportation or sport. This can include sled-pulling, freighting, weight pulling, scootering, carting, or a number of other activities. Your dog can work alone, or as a team. The urban aspect of “urban mushing” refers to these activities being performed on dry land, instead of snow. Urban mushing can occur on country roads, trails, bicycle paths, parks, sidewalks, or anywhere else your dog and pulling contraption can safely traverse.
Who can participate in urban mushing?
Anyone who owns a high-energy, athletic dog! You or your dog does not have to have mushing experience to begin, however you should have at least a little experience before attempting to mush in a busy area. Dogs of all breeds can participate in the sport, but it is especially well-suited to sled dog breeds such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Akita Inus.
How do I choose my wheels?
This is entirely up to personal preference of what would be most comfortable for you and your dog. Some people prefer to stand up while mushing, which makes a cart or scooter preferable. Rollerblades and skateboards are popular options, as well. There are sitting alternatives, such as bikejoring, where a dog (or dogs) pulls a person on a bicycle. Recumbent-style bicycles or sleds are also available, if a reclining position is preferred. If mushing for the first time, choose a vehicle you are most familiar with, and offers you the greatest amount of control.
Will I need extra equipment?
The answer to this depends on the form of mushing you choose. If pursuing traditional mushing, you will need a harness, running line, and hook up line to attach between your dog and vehicle. You will also need to teach your dog basic commands such as “go,” “stop,” “right,” and “left.” If following a less traditional route, such as bikejoring or scootering, less equipment may be needed. For instance, specialized attachments are available to easily convert a standard bicycle into a safe mushing implement.
Can I compete?
Absolutely! Competitions exist for many types of mushing. Weight-pulling, sledding, bikejoring, and carting competitions regularly take place in cities across the country.
Where can I learn more?
There are a number of reliable sources to help you learn more about the sport of urban mushing.
For CA residents: http://www.urbanmushing.com/
For VA/TN residents: http://www.siberianhuskyassist.com/info/display?PageID=3552
For meet ups across the country: http://urban-mushing.meetup.com
For Boston residents: http://www.meetup.com/BOSTONSNOWDOGS/
Or, contact your local Siberian Husky association and inquire with them for more information!