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Favourite Part of Dog Sledding

What was your favourite part of dog sledding?


My girlfriend and I took a tour last winter and it was absolutely AMAZING! We both had such a great time. Jennifer, and all the staff, were so great and patient. I just booked again for this coming winter, plus I'm telling all my friends to book.

Chris Master
Nov 24, 2010

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Did you know...the average sled dog can run over 150 km/day?

Welcome to M.U.S.H.E.R.S.!
What affects how the dogs will run?
Written by Jenn Crawford   
Saturday, 13 October 2012 18:18

It's important to remember that though sled dogs love what they do and can generally be thoroughly insulted if they do not get to run on the teams, they are not machines.  They cannot run constant, all the time, non stop in any condition, just because you've paid to go out on tour.  There are conditions that will limit their abilities, create stressful situations, cause them to not want to run at all, or cause them to run so fast you'll never catch them if you let go!


Of course, many of these conditions have been engrained into our lives at M.U.S.H.E.R.S. and we rarely think anything of them, except recognizing the condition and acting accordingly.  It has become second nature for us; as a result, we've forgotten that many of our participants are not aware or expect anything to influence the dogs' behaviour and willingness to work.  So we're hoping the following information will clear up some of the questions.


In general, the following conditions will cause a tougher run for the dogs, and subsequently for you, the musher:

  • temperatures above -10 C (typical of late winter/early spring temperatures)
  • heavy snow fall/rain
  • sticky snow conditions
  • musher/passenger emotion

These conditions will cause the dogs to pace them selves, run slower, pull harder, and over heat faster.  Teams will require more frequent rest stops, snacks, and hydration; as well as assistance from the musher.  If you manage to understand the driving techniques well, you can assist the dogs easily with very little physical effort on your end for the most part; by driving your sled in a way we refer to as evasive.  But since most of you will be beginners, you will not be familiar with the concepts around being an evasive driver, you will not know how to counter act the weather/situational conditions to assist your dog team.  Therefore, more physical effort will be required on your end to help the dogs when necessary.  This means pushing hard on the up hills, and possibly having your passenger out of the sled; it means leaning hard to the outsides of sharp corners to avoid getting your sled stuck; it could also mean you do get stuck a lot and have to pull your sled out of deep and heavy snow; and it may even mean running on flat surfaces, or 'pumping' with one foot on the ground and the other on your sled ski.  You are expected to assist the dogs when necessary!


Your mood will greatly influence how your team responds to you.  Dogs can smell a number of adverse emotions, and your initial (and subsequent) emotions can set the foundation for your entire tour.  If you are angry or frustrated when you start interacting with the dogs, they will sense it, and it will feed into their own emotions.  This can cause them to become equally frustrated with the musher and with each other; causing them to be more likely to pick fights amongst each other, to not listen, or to stop working entirely.  If you feel your emotions running high, try to take a deep breath and relax, you will notice your team will do the same!


Luckily, there are conditions that will have the total opposite effect on the dogs:

  • temperatures lower than -10 C
  • crisp air and no falling snow
  • having an upbeat attitude

Our best and easiest runs happen first thing in the morning and late at night after the sun has gone down.  Why?  Because the temperatures are low and the air is crisp (or has little humidity).  These conditions create an easy run for the dogs by allowing them to run faster, pull less, and enjoy themselves.  The sleds will glide easily, the dogs will not over heat, and the musher doesn't have to put in as much physical effort.  The dogs have lower frustration levels amongst themselves and their sled driver; and they are more likely to listen better and have less distractions.


Just as your adverse emotions will play a role in how your team performs, positive emotions such as happiness, joy, euphoria, and excitement will have an equal reflection in your team.  The emotions are infectious (like laughter)!  Your team will be upbeat, excited, happy, and willing to work hard for you.  Each member of your team will be excited and determined, they will show little frustration with you and amongst themselves, and will listen well.  These are the days you have to make sure to never let go of our team!  These are the days the dogs want to run with or without you!


So remember the following key points:

  • This is a sport entirely dependent upon weather.  If we could control the weather (and believe me, we wish it often), it would be winter year round and close to -20 every day, constant snow cover on the ground, and sunny skies!  But this is obviously not the case, and weather can be totally unpredictable, so we've learned it's just best to go with the flow, and take it as it comes.  So your best bet is to enjoy what ever gets thrown at you.
  • Even on a day with tough weather conditions, it is you and your passenger that will ultimately influence how your dogs will perform.  The physical performance will always be there, but what makes the difference between an 'okay' run and a 'great' run, is the mental performance of the team (driver and passenger included)!
  • Your team of dogs are working (whether that be super hard, really well, or not so much) because they WANT to, not because you purchased a 'dog sledding tour'!  So be courteous, work with them, it's a team sport requiring team efforts!
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 21:55
Question: Do the dogs have names and how do you remember them?
Written by Jenn Crawford   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 00:00

Answer: This is a question that we get asked quite often and always creates a little chuckle.  Yes, of course all of the dogs have names!  In response to the second half of the question, I always reply with an equal retort: "do you remember all of your friends' names?"


This is usually enough to satisfy the questioner.... until they look at the dogs and realize that many of them look, at first glance, identical!  Then comes the question: "how can you tell them all apart?".  The answer to this comes down to the amount of time we spend interacting with the dogs.  Identifying dogs is done in the same way you would identify people, babies, cats, horses, cows, rabbits, moose, fish, and even trees/plants.


You look for identifying characteristics that are personal to each dog.  Each dog has a different personality and their behaviour plays out into their appearance.  For example, some dogs hold their heads higher than others, while others carry their ears differently.


The easiest way to tell apart even the ones who look identical is to locate the physical features that causes them to stand out.  Their bone structure, eye & fur colour and length, eye size and setting on the face, ear shape and size, snout length, and body form are all identifying characteristics.  Some dogs have a tiny bone frame, while others are stocky.  Some of them are short-legged (such as Kratos) while others are long-legged (like Valley).  Even dogs of the same colour (white, such as Saphira and Snif) have a varying shade of the colour.  So while Snif is a very bright white, Saphira is toned down a little.  Snif has very round blue eyes, while Saphira's are almond shaped and multi-coloured.


Kratos and Eos look nearly identical when looking at them from behind -- partly because they are litter mates -- but can be difficult to tell apart.  But, Kratos has one blue eye and one brown eye; while Eos has two brown eyes.  Her face is slightly more narrow than Kratos', who has more of a 'lion's mane' around his face.  The skirts on the back of their back legs are slightly different colours: Eos has grey shading, while Kratos has a light brown.


We have several small grey dogs who can also look similar, and can even trick us at times when running loose together.  This is where understanding their personality helps to identify them.  Observing their gate (leg movements), shoulder and neck placement, tail angles, and socialability can help identify dogs whom otherwise look too similar or are not within the observer's proximity to see identifying physical characteristics.


Then, once you become familiar with these characteristics, identifying each dog from different angles becomes much simpler.  But ultimtately, when you spend most of your waking hours working with, training, playing, and handling the dogs, identifying who's who just becomes second nature!

2013 Season CLOSED!
Sunday, 31 March 2013 17:39

April 1st, 2013 marks the close of another amazing dog sledding season!  Although we had a bit of a late start to winter, it was more than made up for in the longest lasting spring in over three years in our area!  We would like to thank everybody who came out this year to give dog sledding a try and look forward to another super exciting season in 2014!  Don't forget your special discount code to use for yourself and for your friends in 2014!


Watch our Facebook Page and the website for exciting updates happening through out the year and your chance to win free seats for dog sledding in 2014!  Don't forget that April 1st also opens our first photo contest on our Facebook Page.  Submit your photo of dog sledding with M.U.S.H.E.R.S. and encourage all of your friends to LIKE your photo for your chance to win!

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 19:05
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