Owning a dog bred for work like herding sheep, providing security, or pulling sleds offers an added dimension of fun and pride for owner and pet alike. Helping your dog to develop its innate aptitude and potential skills can build an even stronger bond between the two of you in several key ways.
Aside from enjoying playful romps with your barrel-chested canine pal, you will have the opportunity to work more closely together in teaching your pet how to pull a sled. You may need to observe other sled dogs in action or work with a trainer who can help both you and your dog learn the skills involved in operating a dog-pulled sled. Other resources, like books and videos, can deepen the learning experience to help you understand more fully your pet’s needs and potential to develop strength and agility for this task. The more you understand your dog and work with him or her to accomplish this new goal, the closer you are likelier to get.
All new skills developed by dog owners with their pets require a certain level of trust. Your dog’s temperament will play a role, as skittish pets may require extra time and effort to understand what you are trying to teach and be able to do it effectively. Dogs that distrust their owners will have a harder time accepting new commands and practicing skills or behavior required for the goal of pulling a sled. When an owner and the pet trust each other, the new challenge can be mastered more readily.
When your dog is finally able to respond to directional guidance in pulling a sled, you can put your new teamwork to the test by taking casual sled runs at the local park or nearby hills. As both pet and trainer become more practiced, you may want to consider investing in dog gear that is designed to help your dog pull a sled more efficiently and easily. At that point you may be ready to participate in regional dog races or perhaps even join a team of mushers or, as you become more advanced, start training with a team of dogs for competition, like the ultimate and iconic Iditarod in Alaska scheduled each spring.
But if you want to train your dog to pull a sled just for fun, you can make quick runs to the convenience store or grab some fast food. Outings with your pet using new teamwork will make your time together even more enjoyable.
Sledding is a unique pastime that can make life more interesting for both your dog and you.