New Member information
Welcome to the Training Class Division of the Mush Larose Sledding and Carting Club. You are about to join the ranks of what we think are the luckiest dog owners in the area, those that run sled dogs.
Our training sessions differ greatly from the familiar obedience classes as you will quickly recognize. The dogs and trainers are working as a team in close ranks, as opposed to the one dog, one handler, and no sniffing. A much more relaxed fun attitude exists. Recognizing this dictates the degree of participation you will have to take. In addition, the amount of socialization your dog has had will determine how ready your pet will be accepted by the pack, where a pecking order exists.
New members are encouraged to ask question, and please do, you will find there are a number of informed members on the sidelines that enjoy explaining the finer points of sledding and dogs. To this end, it is best to leave your dog at home for the first class. This gives you a chance to get familiarized without the concern of minding you own animal, who, in all probability will react with uncontrollable excitement or extreme shyness as it confronts the other dogs.
One ritual that is often difficult for the new members to understand if the correction that is used with aggressive dogs. On occasion new dogs will fight out of fear or challenge the alpha male or female. This is normal behaviour and must be modified. Dogs do not fight by the "Queensbury Rules of Boxing". As a matter of fact, it is often difficult to determine which dog is the aggressor, nor is it relevant because both dogs have to be firmly corrected using the Woodhouse method. This is often done by the closest club member as you may not be available. The correction is done in a firm manner without hurting the dog, but must be performed as continued aggression will not be tolerated. A word to the wise, remove your gloves before correcting a dog. In general, we find that a male-female combination of running minimizes the risk of fighting on the trail.
The size of the beginners training team is dictate by the number of mobile trainers available. That being 1 trainer for every 2 dogs. Hence a 6 dog gig team needs a driver, passenger, and cyclist. It is to your advantage if you are in good physical condition, as mushers will tell you, we often work a s hard, or harder, than the dogs. There is no such thing as a free ride on the back of the sled.
Short fast runs are used for training sessions. So the driver and team changes are frequent. This is where you start by helping, extra hands are appreciated, especially in cold weather.
Ideally, training starts at three months of age. Now, at this stage, we're not training for the Iditerod but talking socialization, puppy kindergarten, a puppy harness with a block of wood and lots of fun. At five months your dog can join a team, but don't overdo it. The dogs, as much as they want to run are still developing and the last thing you want to do is hurt an animal, one or two runs a session are plenty until your dog reaches eight months old. If you own an older dog, don't worry- the success rate with our class is very high because basically all dogs want to run we've just got to convince Rover to do it our way.
The day to day running of the class is done by members of the club, bound by the rules of the international Sled Dog Racing Association. Your input and ideas are always welcome through one of the club members who will table them at our regular meetings. Or, better still,after your feet and paws have landed on the ground, join the club.
Children are an important part of our training adventure, for they serve as lightweight passengers on the sled of gig and assist the driver with dog tangles. In addition, they serve as watering crew, a most important job that is easily overlooked by the adults in our excitement, but not by the kids. Three things to remember - if your child participates, they must closely follow the instructions of the driver and, secondly, be aware that the wheel dogs ( the two closet to the sled) will kick up snow. Hence, face protection of some sort makes a lot of sense on the sled and bicycle helmet on the gig.
Getting a proper fitting racing harness is of the utmost important. Harnesses, collars and other sledding equipment is available through the club. All equipment, including sleds, are made by our club members.
The last thing you should know is how to control your dog when the harness comes out, because once you and your dog have caught the bug, you will both become hyper at the sight of a dog sled.
Come on out and share in the fun! It might cost you the price of a collar ($7.00& $8.00) and harness ($25.00 & 30.00).
See you on the trail!!!!
Dog Sledding Rules of Conduct
1. Never let go! - Of the sled, of a dog, of the team
2. Remember # 1
3. Never run more than you can safely stop
-If you cannot stop and snow hook in ( or tie off) a 4 dog team then you shouldn't be running 4 dogs. Run 2 dogs until you are comfortable with that and then add dogs as you can handle them.
- We all started out with small teams and worked our way up to 4,6,8,10 dog teams.
-Please note that if running 8 or more dogs there are usually 2 people on the sled.
4. All dogs Must wear a flat buckle or a sledding collar when running. No dog is to run with a choke collar or prong collar.
5. Remember # 1
6. All sleds must be equipped with a working brake and a snow hook. You should also have a snub line ( or leash) on the sled to tie off the team if needed. The snub line in your pocket does not work for the person catching the team if it gets loose.
7. All children 12 years old and under should NEVER be alone on a sled with 2 or more dogs. We also recommend a helmet for all under 18 years old. If you want to give an older child the experience of driving team you can sit in the basket of your sled while the older child drives.
8.Those people who have a current membership in the Mush Larose Association are covered on training days for liability. When giving rides to anyone, do you also have insurance if that person gets hurt?
9. Remember # 1?
10. All dogs must be connected with a neckline on training days for your dogs' safety and the safety of on-coming teams.
11. It is your responsibility to control your dogs on the trail.
- If your teams does not pass or be passed well, stop, snow hook in and stand by the head of your team to correct any aggressive movements while telling them to "leave it". This way they will learn that they must ignore passing teams.
12. When overtaking a team ahead of you learn to call "TRAIL" and then give the team ahead a minute or so to be ready for the pass. This is protocol in races so might as well learn it so it is automatic.
13. And, finally NEVER LET GO!!!!