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Are you visiting the resort for your holiday and starting to tire of skiing? Are you on a group holiday and looking for a communal activity that combines sport and well-being? Do you like dogs? Discover cani-snowshoeing or cani-hiking in the snow!
These activities are often organized by mushers (drivers of sled dog teams) as their dogs are used to towing and following a path. Note: depending on your size, you will be hitched up to a dog via a traction belt and elasticated lead. The gang line and sled are only used for drafting, which really is just a dog sled. Are you thinking: "cool! the dog will do all the work"? You are wrong! You're going to have to demonstrate your authority to avoid getting dragged along by an over-enthusiastic dog.
In addition, the musher will ask you questions about your physical fitness and personality to help him choose a companion who whom you'll hit it off. And although the hike only lasts a few hours, you'll be sad to leave your new furry friend.
In terms of outfit, we recommend that you wear clothing that has been specially designed for winter sports, like ski gear: warm jacket, warm, waterproof trousers, warm base layers, by following the three layer principle. In terms of footwear, hiking shoes or snow boots will fit the bill perfectly. And let's not forget a hat, gloves, scarf, sun glasses and sun cream etc.
it's the season that dictates whether you can do cani-hiking or cani-snowshoeing! In winter, you'll strap on your snowshoes or snow cleats while in summer, you'll wear your hiking or running shoes.
You're with teens or young children. The idea of hiking with a large pooch will win over even the most reluctant. The presence of the dog will help motivate them and, together with the musher, they can learn how the pack works. And once the walk is over, if allowed, they'll enjoy rewarding their dog with cuddles or a treat.
Do you fancy a challenge?
Cani-hiking is much more athletic than you think. You'll establish a rhythm with the dog and the kilometres will fly past. You'll be so energized by the dog pulling you that the slopes will be almost be painless! But don't lose sight of the fact that you're the boss; don't allow yourself to be dragged at a pace that is too fast for you and be careful walking downhill. If you go too quickly, particularly if you're on snowshoes, watch out for your mate's paws!
One thing is certain:at the end of your walk, you'll have released all your pent-up energy and forged a bond with your 4-legged friend!
We met up with a musher and asked him what happens during a walk with dogs.
"Before sending the dogs and humans on their way, we prepare the dog/human pairings and the route.We check everyone's ability and level of physical fitness, and we ask about their expectations:whether they want a quiet, contemplative walk or something more energetic.
The magical part of cani-hiking and snowshoeing is the relationship with the dog. In the space of just a few hours, people become very attached and a sort of understanding develops between the animal and the walker.Every dog has its own distinct personality and it's very obvious when there's a good fit with a human!When they're working in a partnership with humans they can escape from the hierarchy of the pack a bit.
In winter, the dogs work hard as it's sled season.A cani-showshoe excursion is a break for them!Hikers are amazed by the snow-covered landscapes and when you stop for a break the dogs go crazy in the snow.
In summer, once the harness is put away, cani-hiking is a chance for them to let off steam!"
You want to enjoy some quality time in the mountain but don't know how to find a musher?The Tourist Office will be able to direct you to some local professional!
Let's be honest, your grandparents' Bichon Frise, although very adorable and full of energy, won't be able to tow you and take you for a hike. They generally have weak hearts and their small size can cause problems as you could easily step on them.
The dogs that mushers use to pull their sleds are selected from breeds that offer both physical power and the ability to live in a pack. The most famous are the huskies but you may also come across Malamutes, Seppala Siberian Sleddogs and a whole range of mixed-breed dogs.
You can also practise cani-hiking with your own dog if it's an athletic breed.
Although some may look like fluffy toys, always be careful when in contact with dogs and follow the musher's advice. Ask permission before stroking or giving them a treat.
If you have already tried this activity, please tell what you thought about it in the comments section.Happy walking!
Do you fancy trying another activity teamed up with another animal?
Discover ski joëring! Your skis are shorter than traditional skis and you hold on to a harness attached to the pony or horse which tows you along a path or by the edge of the slopes. It's suitable for children aged 7 or over, or who have their first ski star, and a few resorts even offer the option of Shetland ponies for younger children provided they have achieved their "ourson," (bear cub) ski level. Normally, your excursion will last about one hour and then you'll spend 30 minutes grooming your hairy companion in thanks for having towed you.
Have a go; you'll feel like you're travelling back in time, to the advent of winter sports!
There's also a cross-country skiing version with sled dogs!