Dog sledding is an activity and an event that many people across the world take part in. Almost any dog can take part in sledding, but some breeds are more suited to it than others. Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are the dog breeds that you will see most in dog sledding competitions. Dog sledding is also called mushing.
By now, you should know that Huskies are pack animals and that they need a leader. In dog sledding teams, it works the same. The rider chooses a leader of the pack and the other dogs are lined up behind him. The leader is also called the alpha and he makes sure that all the dogs stay in line.
The line-up goes as follows: leader or alpha, point dogs, swing dogs, and the wheel dogs. The wheel dogs are the ones right in front of the rider or musher.
Ideal sled dogs have very thick coats as puppies and they must be healthy. Sled dogs can run between 20 and 30 miles per hour. They usually weigh between 50 and 65 pounds which make them strong but not too heavy. They have to be okay with eating pretty much anything because when they’re running they need to eat whatever they can get. It goes without saying that a sled dog must have a lot of energy and stamina and endurance.
The musher is the guy on the sled that is directing and shouting commands to the dogs. The musher cannot be too heavy and he must also be athletic. It takes effort to control a sled and the dogs pulling it, thus having the correct snow gear, snow boots, hat, eye wear and snow gloves for staying warm is crucial!
It is the musher’s responsibility to make sure that all his dogs are healthy and well cared for. He is also responsible for making sure that the harness is always straight. If something goes wrong with the harness, it could trip the dogs and cause a lot of injuries.
Dog sledding is a sport in certain countries and there they train the dogs from puppy age to be sled dogs. This is in their natural makeup and a lot of these dogs pick it up quickly. In countries where dog sledding isn’t necessarily such a big sport, you can still find places where you can train your dog for sledding and pulling. When there is no snow, these dogs often just race. Proper training and humane treatment are key.
If you are interested in having your Siberian Husky try being a race dog or sled dog, contact the International Siberian Husky Club for more information. They will be able to give all the information and tell you whether your dog will be a good candidate for the sport.
If you would like to see some great photographers of dog sledding, visit the Photographyblogger page. The pictures are stunning.