Today, sledding with dogs is becoming more and more popular. Also, not only huskies are used for sledding. Many different breeds of dog are used for pulling sled, although many people presume and expect that only huskies are for that job. Only if the dog is relatively large and fast, it will be able to pull a sled. By the way, dogs are not only for pulling the sled, they must be kept happy and well maintained and in high spirits! Why is this important? Because they won’t listen while pulling a sled, and if they don’t listen that can lead to causing a personal injury, either for the owner or for the dog.
Necessary equipment. As we already know, everybody has to start somewhere. You need to choose equipment that is suitable for your size and breed of dogs is essential. The needed equipment includes: tug lines, harnesses, necklines, gang-lines and booties. A scooter is a good start for dogs. But if you live somewhere where is very cold with a lot of snow during the year, you should buy sled instead. Do not forget – safety gear is necessary for you. It could happen that the first few tries can go terribly wrong. Sled, the scooter and personal safety gear won’t be needed initially, but it is worth of having it for future use.
Getting started. You need to get your dogs to get used to wear harnesses and to have a level of drag behind them. You should attach a gang-line or a leash to the harness, and then let the end that would usually be held drag the length of it, behind the dog. You should attach something to it, and you should start small first, with a pair of shoes or something like that and add always something more over the period of a few weeks until you see that your dog is comfortable with pulling a lighter tire or something of similar weight.
Also, you need to teach them the commands which you will use when you take them sledding. This will require a lot of patience because this is the most time consuming part of the training. To begin with something, takes them on the runs and walks with their drag attached, and show them the turns and moves. You could for example, shout ‘haw’ when turning left and ‘gee’ when turning right, and to make them stop use ‘whoa’. Step by step, you will have to move behind the dogs and make sure that they will to continue to react to these instructions during runs and walks, as the scooter or sled will always be behind the dogs. Once you see that they can run with the drag and respond to these instructions without looking at you, you will know that they are ready to pull scooter or a sled for the first time.
Pulling the scooter or sled. Make sure that you have all of your personal safety gear on – helmet, elbow pads and knee pads. To see if they will run and pull you along, hitch your dogs to the sled or the scooter. They can just turn and stare at you. The good way to get them to run can be a person to chase, either just running or on a bike. You need to make sure that the dogs do not run on them and the lines stay taut. You need to keep your hand or foot on the brake at all times. You need to make sure that you keep all dogs watered, well fed and happy with treats and praise when is needed, before you start with short sessions and slowly increase them.
How to teach your dog to pull a sled can be a great exercise to increase the bond between pets and owner, and outstanding way to put some of their strength and energy to good use with something they will enjoy.