Working with Huskies
Driving dogs from a sled is recorded going back to 2000 BC by Siberian and North American native tribes.
Mushing as a sport originated in 1908 in Alaska.
Today it’s enjoyed by many dog owners and their canine athletes, who just love to run.
There are a variety of ways to exercise with your dogs.
Talk about mushing, or Huskies, and everyone’s first thought is of pulling a sled on snow.
And this is still how competitive sled dog racing is done in many cold climates.
It’s less common in the UK simply because we don’t reliably have vast expanses of snow. (Plenty of Husky owners do have a sled tucked away for the rare days it can be used though.)
In the UK, there’s rarely enough snow to run a sled.
So it’s much more common to run with wheels, using a “rig”.
Typically these are build out of standard bicycle parts mounted onto a special frame. Most commonly they have three or four wheels, and the Musher can stand at the back, or run between the rear wheels to assist the dogs.
Rigs are typically run with teams of 2 – 8 dogs.
(Although larger teams are possible.)
Races are organised into classes based on the number of dogs on the teams.
Bikejoring / Scootering
Bikejoring is basically attaching one or two dogs to a bicycle.
As with all other forms of sled dog sport, the dogs needs a harness to allow them to pull comfortably, and a line to connect them to the bicycle. Typically there will be a rigid arm attached to the bike to keep the lines away from the wheels.
Scootering is basically the same idea, but instead of a bicycle, you use an adult sized Scooter, and the musher can “scoot” to help propel the team along.
Bikejoring and Scootering are cheaper options, suitable for folk who maybe only have one dog, and can run on narrower trails, that aren’t suitable always suitable for full sized rigs.
In Canicross, the dog is attached to the runner’s waist with a bungee leash. In this way, whenever the runner’s feet are off the ground, the dog pulls the runner forward.
Canicross is the simplest form of running with dogs – you just need a harness for the dog, the bungee line and a suitable belt to attach it to.
It the sled dog sport that requires the most effort from the human part of the team, and typically would only be done with one or at most two dogs.
Before you start
Before a dog pulls a sled, a cart, a scooter or a bike, there’s lots for both human and dogs to learn.
The dog needs to be mature enough physically and mentally, comfortable in a harness, and needs t understand commands to turn, go and stop.
Training in commands can be done while the dog is still young. You can get them comfortable with a harness too.
However dogs typically need to be over a year old before their asked to actually pull any real load.
You’ll need a sled-dog harness made for pulling.
The X-back harness is the most common across-the-board in all variations of mushing, but there are also others.
Your harness has to be the right size for your dog.
In the UK we also have to watch the temperature – sled dog running is a winter sport, and usually only done below 10C.
If your interested in learning more about sled dog sports, please contact us at