DOG SLEDDING EVENTS/ACTIVITIES
There are many enjoyable activities one can enjoy with his/her sled dog (s). Some of these include dog racing, skijoring and weight pulling. If you'd like to get involved in one of these sports, they will be briefly outlined below.
Sled Dog Races ...Sprint and Long distance
Sled dog races can consist of "sprint" races which are races over relatively short distances of 4 to 100 miles, mid-distance races from 100 to 300 miles or "long distance" races of 300 to over 1000 miles (Iditarod). Sprint races extend usually over a two or three day period with heats run each day with the same dogs over the same course. Mid distance races on the other hand are continuous events of 100 to 300 miles. Long distance races may be continuous or stage races in which racers run a different course each day, usually from a central staging location.
Racers are not only categorized by the distance run but by the amount of dogs in each team. Usually there are four, six, eight and ten-dog teams and unlimited (called open). But there are other team size categories too.
Additionally there are two different starts. There can be timed starts whereby teams start in equal time intervals, competing against the clock rather than against one another. There can also be mass starts where all of the dog teams start at the same time. Some mass starts can have up to 30 teams starting all at the same time.
Skijoring is a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a dog (s). One to three dogs are commonly used. The cross-country skier gets power with the skis and poles and the dog (s) add additional power by running and pulling. The skier wears a skijoring harness and the dog wears a sled dog harness. The two are joined by a length of rope. The dog must follow the owner's voice for direction and of course must want to run. There are many dogs that enjoy this sport but the northern breeds are particularly good at this such as the Alaskan Huskies, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and the Samoyeds.
This sport is practiced recreationally and competitively and can be practiced for long distances or short (sprint) distances. Some races are separated into men's and women's and one-dog and two-dog categories. The USA held the world's largest event in February 2011 at the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis. 200 teams raced in this event which included the first ever National Skijoring Championship.
Weight pulling is a fun sport and works well with any dog that likes to pull while exercising. The Alaskan Malamute, as a northern breed, excels at this due to its size and ability to pull great loads. The eskimoes used them as freighting dogs so this is a natural for them. Weight pullling can be done on snow with a sled or on ground with a wheeled cart. The chute is not less than 10 feet nor more than 20 feet wide and not less than 30 feet long. The dogs must be more than 1 year old and not older than 12 years of age. All dogs must have a properly fitted harness and no bitches in heat can be on the premises or compete. There are different weight classes ranging from 20 lbs to dogs over 151 lbs. The dogs are weighed in no more than 24 hours prior to the competition. Each dog is required to pull a load 16 feet in 60 seconds without treats, etc. Each time a pull is successful, more weight is added for the next pull until the dog can't complete the pull. There is quite a bit of time between pulls so the dog can rest until there is an increase in weight.
This is just a brief over view of this sport and the others as there are many specific rules and regulations which should be checked out if one is interested in participating. It goes without saying that a lot of training goes into these activities prior to competition so the dog (s) are in top condition and form. The bottom line is the dogs taking part in these sports, the Malamutes, Siberians, Alaskan Huskies, Samoyeds and others have great fun as can be witnessed by their wagging tails and howls of joy before the start of each event.