Most of us tend to think of the term "mush" as a command used by sled team drivers way up north where sled dogs are often the only form of transportation. There are two myths in this sentence, first sled dogs are no longer the main form of transportation in many such places, "mushing" is more of a sport than a necessary form of transportation. Second, perhaps the only person to ever actually use this term to urge his team on was Yukon Cornelius in the movie, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'.
If you have a dog that is bred to pull such as a Siberian husky, Alaskan Malamute, Canadian Eskimo dog, Samoyed, or Chinook, you already have a head start. But, many other breeds can be taught to mush, it's a great way for your pup to burn off all that extra energy. You can teach your pup to mush, all it takes is hard work and time. One quick word, your pup should weigh at least 30 pounds and a medium-sized breed or larger.
Recreational mushing or dog sledding is just as safe any virtually any other dog sport. This is providing you take your time to train your pup properly. It is the perfect time to let your pup take the lead while you get to celebrate his athletic ability and be encouraging in a very positive way. You start out by teaching your pup to wear his harness and to pull alone. You can always work on putting a pulling team together at a later date.
You should be aware before you start, that buying a complete pulling harness and sled rig can be quite expensive to buy new. If you have one, check with your local dog sled pulling club and you may find that someone has some used gear you can buy or borrow. You will also find the members are full of sage advice to help you get started.
Before you can start training your pup to mush, he needs to get used to wearing his new harness. Be sure to adjust it to fit him properly from day one. Let him wear it around the house and yard, starting with short time periods and moving up to where he is comfortable in it for long periods of time. Your pup needs to have mastered the four basic commands of 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'down'. You will also be teaching him a number of new commands including;
There are also a few things you will need to complete the training:
The most important thing to remember is that even with pulling breeds, training your pup to successfully pull a sled is going to take time and patience. But, imagine the fun the two of you can have as your pup pulls you, the groceries, or the kids around with a big happy smile on his face.