We appreciate the fact that you may be shopping for the best product experience featuring the best prices, which we would ultimately do for ourselves with respect. Therefore we have provided the following information for your consideration. Also, we encourage you to be very watchful in your research as unfortunately, as in every industry, there are sometimes misrepresentations in participating in the sport in general. To help you avoid buying into claims that the experiences are “the same” within each company or to identify those companies who misrepresent others, we have provided this information to you so that you can easily compare in an informed and honest manner with the goal of saving you time and money. Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours is the reputable company that strives for perfection in creating tours that will please everyone, whatever the need!
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Here are some examples of what we’ll be covering:
- Brief history of the breeds and the sport of dog sledding.
- How to control and operate the sled safely.
- Proper demonstration of equipment you will be using to drive the sled.
- How to drive tandem. (2 people on the back driving.)
- ‘Rules of the trail’, for example: no passing the sled in front of you; use 2 feet to stop your sled and where we will be stopping to switch drivers.
- Commands to get your dogs to go, stop, pass distractions, slow down on the down hills and how to keep your team happy and positive.
A: We like to keep the sled weights reasonable for the dogs so they are treated humanely. Each sled will carry up to 3 adults or around 500 pounds. Permitting our dogs to pull over crowded sleds by allowing 3 or more adult guests plus the addition of a guide are not practiced here. This is not the standard in our company! In addition as said, our instructors are very well trained and are able to adjust the dogs on our teams based on the weight of the sled to ensure a safe and fun tour for all! Here are your options:
- Relax in a cozy sled having one of our instructors drive your team.
- Drive the dog team (one-on-one) with one of our instructors.
- Or, drive your sled dog team with the company of your family or friends following your instructor.
As a family run operation, we understand how important it is to experience adventures together. With Snowy Owl, when you book as a group, we strive to keep your group together. When you make your reservation, ask how we can keep you and your group exclusive!
A: To drive – you need to be in moderately good shape and willing to assist the dogs by jogging or peddling with one foot up the inclines. Because dog sledding is a sport, when driving your own team behind our instructors, it’s beneficial to have the ability to actually participate in the action of driving the team. When you’re driving on the back of the sled with one of our instructors, fitness is not as essential.
To ride– No, we recommend people with specific needs, infants and seniors request riding with our instructor’s teams to ensure your comfort and enjoyment. Children who are old enough and capable, can drive with an instructor or parent at the instructor’s professional discretion.
To put it into perspective, we are a company who believes in teaching our guests about “real” sled dog touring, not biased imitations. Dog sledders or companies who brag about not having to assist their dog teams up inclines when carrying weighted cargo are considered unprofessional and inhumane within the etiquette of the sport. Our sled dogs are not machines and definitely not meant to be taken advantage of! As said, our company creates an interdependent working relationship based on mutual respect for everyone concerned.
A: Absolutely! Because of our experience and expertise, everyone is welcome! Singles, expectant mothers, large groups, infants, guests with special conditions, etc! Snowy Owl sleds are equipped with a moisture resistant custom made cordura sled bag; they are lined with an 8 inch thick comfortable padding as well as luxurious velour blankets or soft goose down duvets. In addition, if you require extra comfort, please notify your reservation agent, as we are delighted to offer you beautiful, cozy sheep skins or extra blankets when required.
At Snowy Owl it is also mandatory to bundle our guests who are riding inside the sled, safely with security buckled attachments which are generally included as part of the sled design. In fact you should be aware that companies, who either don’t provide security straps on their sleds or simply don’t feel it’s important to even close and secure the sled bag for you, should be questioned.
This “Doggie Gatorade” is made up of a few key elements:
- Hot water which is refreshing, comforting and hydrating.
- Chicken fat which is high in energy, calories and oils which is excellent for our working huskies who are burning around 2000 calories a day!
- Tripe which is full of very important and helpful digestive enzymes, oils and vitamins. So on average each dog drinks 3 liters per day!
Ensuring that all our huskies drink and stay hydrated is very important so often times we will even mix in other tasty meats such as turkey, buffalo, duck and salmon! We also offer delicious treats to our huskies once they have finished drinking their water and are enjoy their rest. Variety is the spice of life so we offer many different types of treats such as duck, chicken, yams wrapped in chicken, Milk Bones, beef liver etc! Learn more about our dog care here!
Our huskies enjoy a minimum 1 hour break between their tours where they receive their “Doggie Gatorade” and treats. We do not load our huskies into their travel boxes after running as this causes their muscles to tense up and become stiff, also because they eat and drink so much they need to be able to relieve themselves whenever they please, if they are in their travel box they have no alternative area to do so. Another benefit of letting our huskies cool down and rest in their team formation is it allows our guides ample time to give each dog loving attention and thank them for their hard work on each tour. Any dogs with thinner coats are offered a nice warm dog coat while we clip their nails, groom them and prep their feet (some huskies have sensitive feet and require paw protection ointment and booties) for the next outing. Our huskies only enjoy being in their travel boxes for very short periods of time, not for 2 hours like some other companies allow. Read more on our dog care!
A: For those competitors who make such comments – it is possible that they are providing you an inside look at what it would be like if you were to drive one of “their” sled dog teams! When speaking with an disreputable sled dog touring company who’s attitude is to “never trust the dogs” as they have not trained them to be trustworthy, then yes, driving a dog team with uncontrollable dogs who fight and do not listen to commands would be dangerous. With these scandalous companies, their sled dogs are a direct reflection of who they are. Here at Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours we can trust all of our sled dogs as they are all very well trained – in fact so well trained that owners of other sled dog touring companies comment that our guests, after their instruction from our company, can drive a dog team better than their own guides based on what they have witnessed! Even though this is a credit to our company, we worry that some companies admittedly don’t train their guides or their dogs properly.
Mindless treadmill training in an enclosed building with no real trail situations is not the standard here. We go the extra mile which obviously takes more time and effort on our part. Nevertheless we will only do what is best for our sled dogs – not what is easiest for us! Chaining sled dogs to a treadmill and watching them run we feel is sadly inhumane in many ways. By running our sled dogs during cool early mornings in the great outdoors, it supports keeping them stimulated, working on real trail situations and getting them out of the kennel facility which is refreshing and fun for them. The difference is, we are creating a dog that loves to run and play vs. a dog with a job – read about our training program here!
What our guests say about driving their own team:
“I would like to thank you all for such an amazing and fun experience that I will never forget! Riding my own sled was so much fun; the dogs are so awesome and I couldn’t ask more from the whole team!”
“My wife and I wanted to thank you for a wonderful day with your outfit. We had an exceptional time and enjoyed the great independence that you allow with your trustworthy teams.”
“I of course thoroughly enjoyed the experience and loved driving – heck with being in the bag!”
Behind the leaders we have our point dogs. Think of these dogs as the assistant leaders or leaders in training. From time to time a lead dog can have a bad day and if they do we will simply just make a minor adjustment in the team. We will put one of the point dogs in the lead position to create a less stressful atmosphere for all the dogs; this will improve the rest of the team’s behaviour. Believe it or not if the lead dog is having a bad day the rest of the team can feel it. You may also find that this point dog may soon be a proven leader.
Behind the point dogs are the swing dogs. This is where we start our pups for the first time. We also run our yearlings here with a veteran dog, one who will be calm and relaxed when he/she is working this way they won’t frighten the new pup. Sometimes the situation calls for a veteran dog that will do a little training of its own. If the yearling is well…silly like most of them are the veteran will be quick to let he/she know that they must behave by giving a small nip. The Veteran dog will do this without hurting the pup but letting it know that it better behave or next time it just may hurt!
Behind the swing dogs we have the biggest and usually the slowest dogs. These are the wheel dogs and they are the weight pullers of the team. Think of them as the Clydesdales of sled dogs. They come in very handy on the up hills and in deep snow conditions. Because of their size they may never get a chance to run in the lead positions since they are much slower. But never the less, a very important part of the whole team!
A dog sled team is managed in a similar manner to a human team so we have set up a tour based on this. For a work group that needs some help in team enhancement click here!
Each and every dog we have works hard for us in their own right. As difficult as it is for us to let go we always want to see our dogs happy. When they are ready to retire we place them up for adoption, this gives them the opportunity to have their very own human who will give them an amazing home to live out their golden years!
Visit our Adoption page here!
The Alaskan husky is typically 50% grey hound or short haired pointer and the remaining 50% is usually Siberian husky. Crosses were introduced by speed racers to make their huskies faster to qualify for prize money. These Alaskan huskies tend to be quite small averaging 40-50lbs, sport a thin coat and usually have sensitive feet. When the hound was crossed with the pure bred husky their natural ability to withstand cold, snow and ice was not nearly as prominent, a sad but true reality. Hounds are not equipped to pull weight which puts the Alaskan husky at risk, while the hound is bred for running and the husky for pulling combining the two creates a sled with lots of will power and speed however, lacking in their ability to pull weight. Using them as freighting sled dogs is definitely a choice but not the suitable and authentic one based on our many years or expertise. Any company using a cross breed should consider promoting safe pulling for their teams such as booties, dog jacket’s and light sled loads to pull.
Learn the truth here!
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There are dogs with jobs and then there are dogs who love their jobs! It is our professional option that chaining dogs to a treadmill and forcing them to run is inhumane and it can also be a serious health hazard. At Snowy Owl, we always stop for our husky colleagues to go to the bathroom because we value and respect our hard working friends! Many sled dog kennels will simply force their dogs to go to the bathroom while running and believe it is ok for the dog to be dragged down the trail. Now imagine what can happen on a treadmill. Not only can the dogs get seriously injured but other dogs will be running through urine and feces over and over again. We only believe in providing a safe, fun, clean and humane training environment– read more about our training here!
Each and every dog we have works hard for us in their own right. As difficult as it is for us to let go we always want to see our dogs happy. When they are ready to retire we place them up for adoption, this gives them the opportunity to have their very own human who will give them an amazing home to live out their golden years! Visit our Adoption page here!