on June 19, 2008 at 12:05 PM in categories Dog Sledding
If you're looking for a winter activity to do with your Chessie, try dog sledding! Chessies are a tough breed that need lots of activity - perfect for dog sledding. We trained ours as a lead dog a few years ago, and now Pete can't get enough. In fact, last winter we ran the same short section of trail a few times for training purposes. He soon figured out when we were heading back. He stopped, turned around, and confronted the sled. Of course we did a little more training to get over that behavior :-), but it's certainly an indication of how much he loves running. But running without control isn't fun for the handler. There are several methods, more or less complete, to teach a dog lead commands. We used Lee Fishback's book called Training Lead Dogs. It's not the gentlest approach, but it makes for a reliable lead dog. Black Ice, the company that sells this book, also sells most of the equipment you may need. We started with a simple Canadian Kick Sled for the first year, and after seeing how much Pete loved it, we bought a K-2 Sprint Sled from SledDogSystems. It's expensive, but you get what you pay for. It's very fast and light -- light enough for one dog. Probably the best harnesses you can get are made by ManMat and sold by HowlingDogAlaska, among others. If you have only 1-2 dogs, get the Wheel Dog Harness -- it's easier on the hips for the wheel dogs. The Long Distance Harness is also excellent for Skijoring, Bikejoring, etc., where the mount point of the gangline is higher up. It also works well as a restraining/safety harness in the car.
Wildwood Kennels ran a team of 8 Chessies in the 70s -- the first competitive Chessie dog sled team. Their webpage shows a great black-and-white picture of their dog team. If you have a picture of your sled dogs in action, send it to us with a short description of your team, and we'll post it on ChessieDB.
And just in case it wasn't obvious... That's me and Pete in this picture. :-)