We are taking a break from obedience to focus on training for the upcoming skijoring season. Last year I started training Lok in November and by the time he was ready and I had all my ski equipment and learned how to ski we only managed to get out on snow once before it all melted. I would like to run Lok and Jun together this winter for some extra power, but first they both need to be trained separately.
Ski training is fairly simple. The dogs need to learn to stay in front and not stop or sniff on the sides of the trails, which is the hardest part for Lok (if they are pulling, that's great, and they usually do, but technically, they don't even need to pull). That's really all you need to get out on the trails, but this year I'd like to enter a couple races, so my dogs need a bit more. Right now, we are working on a "line out" which means go out front to the end of the line and do a stand-stay until you're told to run. The dogs need this at the start line so they don't tangle their lines. We're also working on directions. Last year, Lok got "gee" (right) down pretty well, but doesn't know "haw" (left). Both dogs are doing pretty well on these things, considering we've only been working on them for a couple of days. Jun gets a little worried when she hits the end of the line, so I'm trying to work on desensitizing her to that a bit as well. We also need a stop command. But that's about it--probably one of the easiest dog sports to train and dog power over snow is such a rush!!
Of course, we have some unique issues as well, since one dog is blind and one is deaf. From what I've learned from other mushers, blind dogs can do well as lead sled dogs--they don't need their eyes to follow the trail. But still, I imagine particularly directional commands will take a lot of trust and I will really need to fine-tune his responses to them. Hopefully, having Jun hooked up will help with that. With Jun, all of her training so far has involved her looking at me--it's the only way I can communicate with her. Skiing will be the exact opposite--I want her to NOT look and me and just run ahead. Yet, if I need to give her a command, I need her to look back at me. So that will be interesting as well. But I think we find ways to make it all work.