Ridge Runners Sled Dog Racing Club

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How to get started with Dry Land Mushing


  1. Be patient! Your dog(s) will have to learn and get used to the new activities. They have good days and bad days. Enjoy the good ones, use the bad ones to train your own patience.

  2. If they are having a bad day, flow with it. Take it slow, let them sniff the daisies. Next day will be better again.

  3. Never force the dog into something, always encourage.

  4. Never ever hit or hurt the dog while running.

  5. Keep things positive

  6. Start with SHORT runs, maybe 1-2 km max.

  7. Think of your dog as a performance athlete. He/she needs to build up muscles and stamina before running for longer distances at speed.

  8. Regular practice is important. Vary the trails, keep it interesting. Do short runs, then gradually increase distance while maintaining speed. DO NOT overdo it in the beginning.

  9. Think of a training schedule if you are keen. Start the week easy with short paced runs (use your brakes). Over the week increase the speed and distance gradually and end the week with a fast run, emulating a race.

  10. Practise the start. Make a habit of counting from 5 downwards before starting. This teaches your dog to be ready at the starting chute at a race.

  11. End the training runs always with a fast run.

  12. Keep an eye on the ropes – always maintain a ‘tug’ (tension) in the gangline.

  13. NEVER take your eyes off the dogs – they WILL make 90 or 180 degree turns (they can spot rabbits real good) and you will not be the first one flying over your scooter/bike.

  14. Always leave the dogs wanting more – if they have to work too hard then it’s no fun anymore

  15. Use every opportunity to practice the commands. Choose trails with lots of intersections (e.g. park). Walk the dogs with them leading, then at each intersection give them the ‘gee’/’haw’ command and let them learn to make the right decision. If you have 2 or more dogs, walk them with a friend one after the other, each one having to concentrate on the musher’s command. Vary 'gee' and 'haw'.

  16. Practise “line out” in your garden using the washing line pole and a long rope.

  17. The minimum age for pulling load is 12 to 18 months. You can begin earlier with puppy harness breaking, making it a fun and rewarding exercise to get into the harness. No load on the harness!

  18. If you are running more than one dog, remember: “You are always only as fast as your slowest dog”.

  19. If in doubt, ask your friendly musher for ideas, help, tips, etc