Dog sledding in Norway is an experience like no other. Gliding through the snowy landscapes, feeling the wind in your face, and the excitement of being pulled by a pack of strong and skilled dogs is truly unforgettable.
But have you ever wondered how these dogs navigate through the snow and terrain? Well, let me tell you, it’s pretty impressive.
Meet The Dogs of Dog Sledding
First things first, not all dogs are cut out for dog sledding. The Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Alaskan Husky are the breeds that are commonly used. These breeds were specifically bred for endurance and strength, which is perfect for the harsh conditions of the Arctic. And let me tell you, these dogs have some serious energy to keep up with the long-distance sledding.
Training 101: Preparing the Pups for the Trail
Dogs used for sledding are trained from a young age, starting with basic obedience and gradually moving to more advanced training. They learn specific commands to direct the sled (such as “hike,” “gee,” and “haw,”) and how to navigate through different types of terrain like deep snow, icy conditions and steep inclines.
But the most important skill they learn is how to navigate through the snow. These dogs can detect changes in the snow and adjust their speed accordingly, they know when to slow down to avoid sinking in deep fluffy snow and when to speed up to maintain traction on packed and icy snow.
The Lead Dog’s Role in Sledding
The lead dog, also known as the “lead” or “point” dog, is the navigator of the sled team. This dog is the most experienced and skilled member of the team, and it’s trained to follow a specific path through the snow. The lead dog uses its sense of smell and hearing to detect changes in the snow and adjust the sled’s course accordingly.
It also uses its sense of sight to avoid obstacles and hazards on the trail. It’s pretty amazing to see how these dogs can navigate through the snow with such ease.
Understanding the Roles of Wheel, Point and Swing Dogs
The other dogs in the team, known as the “wheel dogs,” “point dogs” and “swing dogs” follow the lead dog’s lead and help to guide the sled through the snow. The wheel dogs, who are the closest to the sled, are responsible for providing the majority of the pulling power, while the point and swing dogs help to steer and control the sled. Together they make an amazing team.
Dog sledding also requires navigating through different types of terrain like steep inclines and narrow trails. In these situations, the lead dog uses its sense of smell and hearing to detect changes in the terrain and adjust the sled’s course accordingly. They are truly amazing animals, I tell you.
What are the best locations to go dog sledding in Norway?
Here’s a closer look at the top five must-visit destinations for dog sledding in Norway:
Tromsø, located in Northern Norway, is known for its stunning views of the Northern Lights and its incredible dog sledding tours. The city offers a range of sledding options, from short rides around the city to full-day excursions into the wilderness. With experienced mushers and well-trained dogs, Tromsø is the perfect place to try your hand at mushing under the stars. And after a day of sledding, you can warm up by a cozy fire and watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky.
Alta is one of the best places in Norway for dog sledding, with its abundance of well-maintained trails and enthusiastic pups. The city is famous for its dog sledding tours, which take you across the Arctic tundra and through the wilderness. Whether you’re a seasoned sledder or a first-timer, the experienced mushers at Alta will ensure that you have an unforgettable experience.
Rondane National Park
Rondane National Park is a winter wonderland, with its pristine forests and stunning mountain views. The park is home to some of Norway’s best dog sledding trails, with routes that wind through the forests, over the mountains, and across the countryside. With experienced mushers and well-trained dogs, Rondane is the perfect place to experience the thrill of mushing and take in the breathtaking beauty of the park.
Trysil is a ski resort that doubles as a top dog sledding destination in Norway. The resort offers a range of sledding options, from short rides through the forests to full-day excursions into the wilderness. The trails in Trysil are well-maintained and take you through the mountains and across the countryside, providing stunning views of the surrounding landscape. With experienced mushers and enthusiastic pups, Trysil is the perfect place to enjoy sledding in the heart of the mountains.
Kirkenes, a small town on the border of Norway and Russia, is a hub for dog sledding tours. The town offers a range of sledding options, from short rides around the town to multi-day excursions into the wilderness. The trails in Kirkenes lead you deep into the wilderness of the Barents Sea, providing a true taste of the wild and remote landscapes of Norway. With experienced mushers and well-trained dogs, Kirkenes is the perfect place for a sledding adventure in the heart of the Arctic.
Protecting Norway’s Natural Beauty
Norway is renowned for its pristine natural beauty, and it’s essential to preserve this beauty while dog sledding. As a dog sledder, you have a unique opportunity to experience Norway’s stunning landscapes up close, and it’s important to ensure that your presence does not negatively impact the environment. Here are a few tips to help you protect the environment while dog sledding:
- Respect Wildlife: Norway is home to a variety of wildlife, including reindeer, moose, and foxes. When dog sledding, be mindful of the trail and avoid disturbing the wildlife. Keep your noise level to a minimum, and don’t chase or harass any animals you encounter on the trail.
- Leave No Trace: When you’re finished dog sledding for the day, make sure to leave the trail and environment as you found it. Pack out any litter or waste you generate, and avoid leaving any food or trash behind.
- Choose Eco-Friendly Tour Operators: When selecting a dog sledding tour operator, look for one that prioritizes eco-friendly practices. These tour operators will use sustainable fuel sources, minimize their impact on the environment, and promote conservation efforts.
By following these tips, you can help protect the environment and preserve Norway’s stunning landscapes for future generations to enjoy. And by choosing an eco-friendly tour operator, you can ensure that your dog sledding experience has a minimal impact on the environment while still providing an unforgettable adventure.
Dog sledding is an experience that requires skill and training from both the musher and the dogs. The dogs navigate through the snow and terrain using their sense of smell, hearing, and sight, as well as their training and experience. With their strength and endurance, these dogs are able to traverse the snowy landscapes of Norway, making dog sledding one of the most exhilarating and unforgettable adventures you can have.
And let’s not forget, the well-being of these dogs is always a priority, they are well cared for and treated with respect throughout their training and mushing.
It’s a unique experience for both the mushers and the dogs, and it allows people to connect and appreciate the beauty of nature and the strength and intelligence of these amazing animals.