How to Train a Sled Dog

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How to Train a Sled Dog. Watching sled dogs pull a musher over miles of terrain in harsh conditions is an amazing sight. Mushers spend years training their dogs to pull correctly and work as a team. It will take time and patience, but you too can train a sled dog.

Things You'll Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Harness
  • 15- to 20-feet of rope
  • Drag (preferably a snowmobile track)

Start to train when your dogs are puppies. This is so important that experts suggest purchasing a litter to train. Starting young is a good way for you to gain your dogs' trust while training them to pull.

Familiarize your puppies with their collars and leashes. Keep them in collars most of the day and take them for walks often. They will learn to trust you and enjoy your company while learning to take commands.

Introduce your dogs to the harness at about four months old. Buy a harness small enough for a puppy and attach something three feet long behind it.

Attach a 15- to 20-feet rope to the dog's collar and give your start command. Run behind the dog while he pulls.

Give the stop command after the dog has gone about 50 feet. Step on the drag as you give this command.

Let the dog catch his breath (you do the same) and repeat Steps 4 and 5.

Teach your dogs teamwork by harnessing one puppy (at about five months old) to an older dog. The puppy may straggle but the older dog will teach him how to work together as a sled dog team.

Tips & Warnings

  • Train one dog at a time and keep the training fun. Lessons should be short and often to ensure your dog remembers everything. Give adequate praise as you train your sled dogs.
  • A snowmobile track is an excellent choice for your puppy to begin to drag. It is lightweight so it won't hurt or scare the dog and will slide well.
  • When teaching your puppies to drag, take them to a spot they know well. A good choice is the location you took them to leash-train.
  • Most dogs that are bred for sledding will naturally want to pull. If your dog doesn't automatically go, walk next to him and give the rope a few gentle tugs. Never get in front of your dog since he needs to learn to take commands from you while you're behind.

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