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Sled dogs, by nature, enjoy the companionship of others and also have an enthusiastic attitude toward working. There are a variety of breeds that have been classified as sled dogs. The more well-known sled dog breeds include Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, and Chinook. More recently, other breeds have been designated as sled dogs, as they too exhibit the qualities and traits required to mush with a pack. These breeds include Border Collie, German and English Pointers, as well as hound breeds such as Greyhounds, to name a few. Though certain breeds are more commonly used for sledding, all dog owners can determine if their pooch would benefit from and enjoy partaking in sledding activities.
For a pooch to be successful at sledding, they require tough feet for diverse terrain as well as high energy and endurance levels. Sled dogs need to wear a harness, so being comfortable with this gear is another criteria, unless the alternative activity doesn't call for one. It's definitely not possible nor easy to take a dog for a snowy sled run daily, which is why having alternative activities for entertainment is always a good option. With just a little creativity, sledding in even the hottest climates is possible!
What better way to please a dog with sledding instincts than to bring the sledding into an urban setting? Sound difficult? Not in the least, actually — all it requires is some creativity and imagination.
There are two ways to go about urban mushing/sledding. One involves you directly, which is known as urban mushing. The other requires your pooch to pull some form of a sled that has a weighted object inside. Either way, the idea is the same; a dog will utilize a wheeled, sled-like object to complete the activity without requiring snow! Wheeled carts intended for urban sledding can be purchased, but good old-fashioned DIY sleds are another option. After securing a sled and harness, the activity is essentially free. Plot out your route, and get sledding with your pooch! (Just make sure your pup knows basic commands before you start.)
One way to prepare your pup for urban sledding is by enrolling them in a formal carting class. Carting classes are exactly what they sound like: classes that involve your pooch pulling along a cart. These carts come in various sizes, depending on the dog, and are usually provided by the facility where the training occurs. You're always encouraged to purchase your own cart, which can be used at home. Information about purchasing carts is likely provided by the institution where you receive your training.
Depending on the facility the classes are being "offured" through, class lengths may very in addition to costs for lessons and carts. Explore your options by checking online and calling around. Once you know where you're going, get started by scheduling your first lesson.
A weighted walk is another option for upping the ante when you take your pooch out. Weighted walks are great for sled dogs, because like sleds, the specialized vest or backpack adds weight, helping to prepare the pooch to sled or just to increase the difficulty of the activity.
When it comes to finding the right vest or backpack, you can check out both online and in-store options. Vests are designed specifically for dog weights and dimensions. It's good to gather this information before setting out on your quest to purchase the right vest or pack. Weighted vests and backpacks range in price, but be prepared to shell out a pretty penny. It's a good idea to wait until your pup is done growing before purchasing the weighted pack. Vests are adjustable and have weight ranges to allow some wiggle room for small weight gains and losses. Backpacks allow for more freedom as it is the owner who fills the pack with weighted objects.
Swimming and exploring the water will force your dog to move against the resistance of the water, further intensifying their exercise. This, in turn, will result in them exerting more energy. Increase the challenge by adding in a water sport, such as fetch or dock diving.
When it comes to sledding, any dog breed and even mixed breeds can excel at the activity. Traditionally, specific dog breeds have been used for arctic mushing and sledding, but more recently, a wider range of breeds have begun to indulge in the activity. Wondering if this activity is "pawfect" for your dog? Well, dogs characterized as having high energy levels and requiring rigorous mental and physical stimulation are ideal candidates for sledding activities, as well as those who have a need to lead and a tendency to pull.
Harnessing that pulling energy into a fun and challenging activity will stimulate your pooch mentally while simultaneously working them physically. As we don't all live in areas that experience a true winter climate, it's beneficial to have backup sledding activities, such as urban mushing/sledding, carting, or weighted walks. Enhance your pup's experience by providing them with access to sledding-like fun year-round, which will improve their overall health and happiness.