How To Train Your Dog To Pull A Sled This Winter

How To Train Your Dog To Pull A Sled This Winter

Have a high energy working breed?

You can help your pup work out all that extra energy, and help them fulfill their breed needs, by teaching them how to pull a sled. 

Best Breeds For Sledding

All dogs need to walk, but some need some extra work. 

For example, working breeds like huskies have a lot of extra energy to burn, and walking may not be enough. 

Teaching your dog to pull a sled is a great way to help them get rid of extra energy safely. 

The best breeds for sled pulling are:

  • Huskies
  • German Shepherds 
  • Newfoundlands
  • St. Bernards
  • Labrador
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chinook

While these breeds are the best fit for sled pulling, most big dogs can pull a sled safely. Small or medium sized dogs can do it if the weight being pulled is not heavy. 

Safety Gear

First, you need to select the best pulling harness for your pup. 

Normal harnesses, the ones you’d use on a walk, are not for sledding.

Most dog stores have good quality pulling harnesses like Ruffwear or EZDog.

Much like teaching your dog to walk on a harness, teaching them to sled with one starts with letting them become familiar with the harness. Let them smell it, get used to it being around. Then, after they’re accustomed to it, you can put it on them. Give them some time to just wear the harness, letting them get a feel for it. 

How To Get The Best Fit

How the harness fits is very important for your pup’s safety and comfort. Start by measuring your dog’s chest, neck, length, and girth. Then, pick out a material that looks comfortable. Padded harnesses are less stressful on your dog’s skin and fur. 

Training For Sled Pulling

Start slowly. 

Because sledding is new to your dog, you need to let them get used to the idea at their own pace. 

After fitting their harness, attach one end of the tow rope to the harness and the other to an empty sled or something very light. 

Each session, go a little longer or add a little weight. Remember, you wouldn’t go from the couch to the squat rack without building up to heavy weights, so don’t expect your dog to do too much before she’s ready. This could take a few weeks. 

You can train them using a command like “Pull!” or “Mush.” Walk along with them, as this will encourage them to follow you. 

Ways To Sled Pull

Because the same training every day can get boring, it’s best to find a few objects for your dog to pull. 

Some dogs love pulling tires. 

Others will thrive running through the snow while “towing” you on a bike. 

Others love pulling sleds through snow, preferably with their human siblings in tow. 

Safety First

Whenever training with your dog, safety should be your first priority. 

First, make sure they’re wearing their collar. This will help you find them if they get lost.

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