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Teaching your Urban Mushing Partner Directional Commands (the Basics).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Keep in mind that I use the term Urban Mushing to refer to a large number of activities. I have seen the term over the last decade or so to be used when talking about both Scooter and Bike Joring and the use of carts for running dogs.

            Whatever type of running works best for you and your dog(s) the basics are still the same. You need your dogs to pull productively and it is also helpful to have them respond to directional and other voice commands. I have found nothing more enjoyable than a great run with the dogs where I can decide which way we are going to go on the fly. I have more than a few good lead dogs here at the yard that that can take direction calls at a full run.

            The first thing that needs to be established in your dog is the desire to pull productively. They should be having a great time out in front of you just pulling their little hearts away. You do not want to start with direction training to early and stifle that desire to run with frustration. For some dogs the desire to pull you around may be automatic and even a problem before picking up the sport of Urban Mushing. For other dogs they may need time and training to learn that it is acceptable to pull hard out in front of you.


Here is the basic method we use for training directional commands:

1. All your training is going to be done in the first ten minutes of the run. The rest of that run is going to be all fun with the reward just getting to run without stopping.

2.Use a bike that is to small for you or a scooter so you have good control over your dog. You want to be able to stop them quickly and hold your dog without it getting a chance to move forward without you allowing it.

3. Use only the number of dogs that you know you can control easily and move the line from the harness to the collar just for the training part of the run if you need the extra control.

4. When the run begins just getting the chance to move forward is the reward for your dog. You stopping your dog and holding them from moving forward is the discipline used.


Start the run and try to make at least two turns per minute for the first ten minutes. When you come to a turn call out the command. I use Gee for right and Ha for left. The original Mushing commands I have found work best. When you get to the turn if your dog gets it right they get to keep going and if they do not they have to stop until they figure out the right way to go. A park or wooded area is a great place to start. Hold your dog for 10 – 15 seconds while they try to figure out the way you want them to go. Keep repeating the command. If they have not figured it out after 15sec then begin moving in the direction you want them to go to give them a hint. After 30 seconds it is time to fully pull them over into moving the way you intended.

Repeat this process randomly alternating between left and right but remember to keep the training session short and sweet finishing with a long good run using the least number of commanded turns to accomplish the run and get home.


Have Fun!!

Floyd Hamilton commented on 29-Aug-2015 12:04 PM
I would like to learn more about this sport and exercise as i am planning a cross country trip with a canine yet to be bought and trained.I have trained a few dogs to pull with directional and pace training much like a horse but would like to refine the skills or learn better ways of training than I use which is basically the love and patience method. Thank you for your time Floyd
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