How to Handle Sled Dogs

Handling sled dogs that are part of a dog sled team is a bit more difficult that handling the family dogs because sled dogs are incredibly smart, which also makes them hard headed and stubborn at time. When working with sled dogs you should treat them as if they are teenagers because they will rebel at times and it takes time and a firm hand to mold them into what you want them to be. Because sled dogs of all breeds tend to be rather smart you must make sure that you do not use physical violence in order to punish them. Dogs like these do not respond well to physical abuse and while you may get them to do what you want it would be much more efficient if you use other methods to correct bad behavior.

A mutual respect must exist between a musher and his sled team and without that respects the entire group dynamic is in jeopardy of falling apart. When handling a sled dog the best thing that you can do is to reward them for good behavior. Positive reinforcement can work wonders with a group of highly intelligent yet stubborn dogs. It is also important to make sure that when you are handling sled dogs that you make sure to maintain your “alpha” status or else you will be unable to control your sled dogs. If your sled dogs do not recognize you as the alpha, or leader, they may become aggressive toward you and each other and the dogs jostle for dominance over one another. This is why it helps to have a lead dog that is the head of the pack but still recognizes you as the dominate force. Handling your sled dogs can also be made much easier if you socialize with them outside of training on a regular basis.

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