Dog sled experience?

4:16 p.m. on November 15, 2010 (EST)
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Our "dog of questionable ancestry" has absolutely taken to the idea of pulling my kids around in our little red wagon when we go for walks/jogs.  She is a mastiff-lab cross.  With Winter comming I am pondering skijorning or having her pull a sled for the kids in the snow this year.  I have a basic X-back harness, I wonder if I need a special sled or if using a kid's "Rosebud" style sled could work. Could a weighlifter belt or climbing harness work for skijorning? 

Anyone done this?

Experiences appreciated. 

4:58 p.m. on November 15, 2010 (EST)
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I have done quite a bit of this, and can probally answer any questions you have. I have been running sled dogs since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I routinely run 1-3 dogs on a kicksled in winter.

The basic X back harness will work, though others are better. You can use any sled in theory, but i find kicksleds to be the best for small scale sledding.

A weightlifter belt or climbing harness will "work" but I would really recommend just getting a skijorning harness, will make life for you and the dog more enjoyable.

http://www.affordabledogsleds.com/dasher.htm

http://www.mainemadedogsleds.com/Recreationalkicksled.html

You can check out this forum, they have a wonderful section of bikejoring and skijoring

http://siberianhuskyforum.com/index.php?showforum=11

Best advice, buy a snow brake....dogs dont always stop when you want them too.

7:38 p.m. on November 15, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks a million Rambler.  I like the look of the kicksled.  I am looking forward even more to the snow. She knows 'hike' and 'whoa'.  Now I need to work on 'gee' and 'haw'.

 

8:15 p.m. on November 15, 2010 (EST)
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Not sure if you know, but a kicksled is designed so that you assist the dog. Think of it as like riding a scooter etc. A dog should only pull it's weight in dead weight. Obviously, a sled is not dead weight, but bear that in mind when starting out. You need to help the dog get going, a sled is much harder to pull than a wheeled wagon. That being said, a single dog set the record for pulling 8,000 some odd lbs on wheels, the average is about 4,000lbs though if properly trained.

I can use one husky to pull about 300lbs on a kicksled and maintain about a 2mph pace. Or use 2-3 huskies with about the same weight and keep a pace of 5-6mph.

You can seriously injure a single dog by trying to get them to pull a loaded sled from a dead stop. Always Always Always assit when you "hike" on a kicksled!

Booties are also a good investment. A dog running on ice can tear up pads fairly easily, and also non northern breeds need the insulation.

8:53 p.m. on November 15, 2010 (EST)
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Dog sledding sounds like a lot of fun, I'm sure there's an equal amount of work associated with it as well, but I enjoy that kind of work.

I backpacked with my dog for years and enjoyed both aspects of it. He was strong enough to pull me uphill if I needed to grab on for a moment.

 

1:19 a.m. on November 16, 2010 (EST)
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I'm thinking you should ask the members here-

http://wintertrekking.com/index.php

This is a deep winter far north camping website and some of the members probably know pretty much everything there is to know about dogsledding.

9:16 a.m. on November 18, 2010 (EST)
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I started building the kicksled last night, bending the runnners in my forge (wood stove packed with cherry wood).  Beyond the metal I should be able to scrounge up everything I need for free.

Using the plans from this site:

http://www.patrickdanforth.com/build/spark_bu.htm

I will post pictures soon.  Thanks for the info on kicksleds Rambler.

3:44 p.m. on November 23, 2010 (EST)
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Finished fab. work last night.  Performance tests this morning.  I am going to get some UHMWPE to make into skis for better float on snow.  Thanks Rambler for the idea.  As promised, pics of the kicksled in action.  Paid for the steel ($14 and fasteners $3) welding done for barter, wood is from a free pallet.  I bent the rails by heating in the wood stove and hammering them curved/flat. 

IMG01141-20101122-1955.jpg

Fresh off the assembly line (garage work bench) last night.

IMG01142-20101122-1958.jpg

Better light

IMG01143-20101123-0751.jpg

Kids and Dog are pleased.  Daughter in front is making sure the four legged power plant stays on the road.  One dog pulls the boy (9 yoa) pretty well.  The kids say they are ready for back country trails.  We are planning a trip to Mission Ridge (Wenatchee, WA) soon.  Right after I make/buy some ski floats. 

7:51 p.m. on November 24, 2010 (EST)
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That looks like so much fun! Great job!

8:37 p.m. on November 24, 2010 (EST)
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Glad to see it was a success! Kicksleds are great because you can take them down any trail that has snow on it. Like I mentioned before, if you don't have a snow brake make sure you get or make one.

If your going to be running on hard crusty snow or ice make sure to put some booties on your dog. They don't have to be fancy, the cheap 3$ canvas ones work just fine.

Most importantly though, keep having fun!

6:18 p.m. on November 25, 2010 (EST)
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Nice work FStS, we call this device "spark", and it is very common in the northern inland places where winters are mostly cold. (Spark= kick)

One word of warning though. Some years ago I had a neighbour who owned a greenland dog, and I had a Siberian Huskey. She borrowed my dog to go like your kids with two dogs in front. It was all ok until after a mild period and some snowfree spots were on the road. What happened was that the runners hit the bare ground making the spark to stop abruptly, and she was hurdled over the steering. But the dogs were running fiercely and the next second the spark came loose with the result that she fell backward sending the spark into the dogs from behind. They were both males, and both considered the other responsible of the attac, resulting in a BIG fight in the middle of the road.

I got home a ragged "winner" who after that dominated the backyard over the other LOL.

9:17 p.m. on November 25, 2010 (EST)
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One reason a snow brake is handy, if you fall, it will stop the sled and the dogs. Not obviously if there is no snow though.

11:00 a.m. on November 26, 2010 (EST)
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That's really cool Sage, I hope you have a blast with the sled & dog.

August 27, 2014
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