Have you seen dogs in arctic countries pulling sleds as a means of transportation? Did you know the skills and traits of the sled dog breeds have been adapted into a competitive sport? And that sled dog racing is even held in countries where there is a lack of snow? In these countries, the sleds have been adapted to wheeled carts. Dogs run courses, usually on bush trails, in either teams or as singles with a scooter, usually adapted from push bike parts.
Breeds most suitable for this sport are… you guessed it… those who enjoy running and are usually bred to do so or; those who possess an appropriate confirmation. This sport isn’t ideal for flat-faced breeds, those with very short legs or dogs who have any type of physical impediment. It’s a physical sport and dogs need to be super fit. The mushers (human handlers) also require a good level of fitness. It’s not difficult to get started teaching a dog to pull, however, it is essential that when training a dog to pull they wear an appropriate harness. Before you start it’s a good idea to do some research and even have a chat with an experienced musher/racer.
In Australia, sled dog racing season commences in May and finishes in August (sometimes September depending on the temperature and humidity) and usually involve very early starts to ensure appropriate temperatures for the benefit of the dog’s health and safety. If you enjoy running, have a dog who enjoys running check out your nearest sled dog racing club. This is a sport that my husband and I participated in very successfully with a team of very competitive rescue dogs, although many years ago. We met some awesome people who were real characters and passionate dog lovers and have great memories and plenty of stories of our sled dog adventures! We truly enjoyed being out in the fresh forest air and sharing our dog’s genuine enjoyment of running.
For more information find your local Sledding Sports Association.
Australia: Australian Sleddog Sports Association (ASSA) http://www.assa.dog/
New Zealand: NEW ZEALAND FEDERATION OF SLED DOG SPORTS https://www.nzfss.org.nz/