DIY





Homestead Dog Sledding

In Alaska and parts of the continental U.S., dog sledding might just be the best mode of transportation for snowbound ruralites.

| November/December 1979

Here in Alaska, folks who need to travel in winter often end up "going to the dogs"... and loving it. After all, canine-powered snow-going is an enjoyable mode of transportation (dogs are a lot friendlier than are jeeps or snowmobiles), and dog sledding can be downright practical, besides. I often make 60 miles a day with my five-member team, for example, and also use dog sleds to haul lumber, groceries, firewood, and more out to my rural homestead.

If you live in an area that's snowbound during part of the year, you can take advantage of dog power, too. You'll have to secure good gear and beasts, and take the time to properly train your pullers, but you'll find that the rewards of sleddin' will be well worth the effort. 

Choosing Your Work Dogs

Most people think that all sled dogs have to to be either Alaskan malamutes or Siberian huskies, but the fact is that Labrador retrivers, setters, Airedales, spaniels, and most other non-aggressive breeds make excellent pullers and are actually be suited to work in the milder climates of the lower 48 states than are their northern brothers. As a matter of fact, just about any Canis familiaris can be trained to pull and to pull well. I even know a fellow whose efficient running team consists of standard poodles!

Regardless of its breed, however, a good sled dog must have an obedient temperament. Many fine teams have been formed around a family pet whose devotion to its owner sets a fine example for the others. Another character trait to look for in a potential puller is an ability to get along with its peers. Infighting simply cannot be tolerated in a dog sled team.



When you set out to form a group of "tundra trekkers," you'll obviously have to decide how many dogs to get. I've seen impressive teams consisting of as many as 20 canines, but I'd suggest you start out with just three. Many novice mushers (we Alaskans call such amateurs cheechakos) quickly find that trying to handle and train more than three dogs can be a most confusing and at times frustrating task.

After you gain some experience, you'll likely want to add one or two more tail waggers to the team. Just be sure that any untrained beasts undergo a five-day "getting acquainted" period with the other dogs before you train them for harness. And remember: Never tolerate the slightest show of aggressive behavior from those new critters or, for that matter, from any of your dogs. You will pay dearly if you let them get away with such methods of "showing their enthusiasm": As we say in Alaska, vet bills are the medals of the cheechako!






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard