Dog sledding is pulling a sled by using dogs. It can be recreational, as a sport, or as a means to commute in extreme-weather places.
Dog sledding happens over ice or snow. It usually involves Siberian or husky dogs meant to withstand the cold environment.
People have been using dogs as transport for thousands of years. It is common to find dog sledding in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Antarctica, where the weather makes vehicles obsolete.
Dog sledding teams work in two possible ways. They can pull side by side in pairs or do it in a fan-shaped formation, depending on the surface. If the surface is thin like ice, the fan-shaped team is the best option. But if you want speed, then the side by side formation is the go-to.
If you don’t want to pay those tedious extra fees for extra small or extra-large harnesses, then we have the guide for you. Here’s all you need to know to make your dog sledding harness.
What Is a Dog Sledding Harness?
A dog sledding harness is a crucial equipment for dog sledding. It allows dogs to use their combined strength to pull the sled through ice or snow.
Dog sledding harnesses must fit the dog correctly, and that’s why it’s necessary to have the right measurements for each dog. If the harness is too big, it can slip off and hurt the dog and the other team members. On the other hand, if the harness is too small, it can wound the dog’s skin.
There are many types of harnesses for dog sledding, and each one works better for a specific kind of situation. Spreader bar harnesses allow dogs to show their full power potential. At the same time, half-harnesses can reduce the possibility of injuries and wounds.
How Is It Different from a Regular Harness?
The main difference between a regular harness and a dog sledding harness is that they have different purposes. A dog sledding harness allows dogs to pull the sled without hurting them.
However, regular harnesses reduce the risk of choking on dogs that pull too much for a collar.
Another difference is the material and shape of the harness. A regular harness can vary depending on the dog’s measurements and breed. A dog sledding harness varies based on the purpose.
If you want more speed, you’ll use one type of dog sledding harness; if you want more safety, then you can choose another. Although they are both harnesses, regular harnesses are more about being comfortable than functional.
How to Make a Dog Sledding Harness
Once you have the necessary materials and tools, it’s time to start making your first dog sledding harness.
What Materials Will You Need to Make a Dog Sledding Harness?
You won’t need to spend much on materials as making your dog sledding harness can be relatively cheap. You can also make a harness from recycled materials, which is an excellent option if you like to live green.
Here’s all you need to make your dog sledding harness:
- 5 yards of 1” nylon webbing (4.5 meters of 2.54cm nylon webbing)
- ½ to 1 yard of polyester fleece (0.4 to 0.9 meters of polyester fleece)
- Polyester thread, dental floss, or woven fishing line
- One 1/4″ steel ring (0.63 cm)
- 1″ (2.5 cm) hardwood dowel, approximately 18″ (45 cm) long
- Two 1/4″ (0.63 cm) screws, 1-2″ long
- Two 1/4″ washers (0.63 cm)
- Drill with 3/16″ bit (0.47 cm)
You can find alternatives to the nylon webbing, but we recommend it because it is soft on the dogs’ skin.
Making a Freighting Harness for Dog Sledding
All you need to do is follow these steps:
- The first thing to do is to run the web through the steel ring. Make sure you are folding the web right in the middle of the ring.
- Proceed to sew the ring in the right place.
- Make sure to give around 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) on each side of the steel ring.
- Pierce the ring with the nail (heat the nail with a flame to make this easier).
- Use the drill to make a hole of 3/16” (1.2 cm) in the center of each end of the dowel.
- Screw the washers into the dowel using the previously heated nail.
- The dowel should be at 1” to 2” from the dog’s hind legs.
- Cross the straps under the front legs. Use some safety pins for these steps.
- Next, work on the neck. It needs to be snug but allow space for the padding.
- Use two pieces of the web for the backstrap and place them on the dog’s hip.
- Secure the bottoms of the backstrap as you take the dowel out of the harness.
- Use some padding for the neck’s base, for under the legs, and for the armpits.
- Time to attach the tube to the harness. For this, you’ll need to sew the tube down the center of the harness.
- Sew each edge of the harness to the padding.
Things to take into consideration:
- Remember that the breast straps should begin at the breastbone. The straps should also extend back the elbow.
- The top and bottom shoulder straps must be even.
- The harness sides shouldn’t pull up. Otherwise, this will make the dog not want to pull the sled.
- You’ll need a tight neck for heavy pulling. Make it so that it fits the dog’s body and not just the fur.
- Always remember that the back straps must be made to support the bar.
For a more visual guide, you can use this video:
Making a Carting Harness for Dog Sledding
A carting harness is another type of dog sledding harness, and it is one that fits a lot of dog breeds and sizes.
All you need to do is follow the next steps:
- As with the previous harness, you need to create some padding to avoid your dogs from getting hurt while pulling heavy objects.
- The padding should be sewed and centered to the web.
- Insert one end of the web into a D-ring. Make sure to bring it back out on the opposite side of the padding.
- Make sure to sew the D-ring as it must not move when the dogs are pulling.
- Use the gap for the belly band, and repeat the process on both sides.
- Proceed to cut a piece of the web about a yard long (0.9 meters)
- Sew the Fastex buckle to the end of the straps.
- Now, try it on your dog so that you can mark the correct place for the collar.
- Sew the other buckle into the end of the other strap.
- Proceed to try it on your dog again and adjust as necessary for its size.
Making a Walking Harness
You already have the materials, and a walking harness can be of great help if your dog pulls a lot during walks.
If you also want to know how to make a walking harness, here’s all you will need:
- 3 yards (2.7 meters) of 1” (2.5 cm) nylon webbing
- You’ll need three sliders of 1” (2.5 cm) nylon or steel tri-glide
- One 1” (2.5 cm) slide release buckle
- One 1” (2.5 cm) O-ring or triangle ring
- One 1” (2.5 cm) D-ring
- Polyester thread, dental floss, or woven fishing line
- A needle
Now that you have the materials, all you need to do is follow these steps:
- Cut a yard (0.9 meters) of the webbing.
- Proceed to sew the female end of the buckle into one of the webbing’s ends.
- Now, weave the remaining end of the webbing through the male end of the buckle.
- Cut one more piece of the webbing. It must be around a yard (0.9 meters) long again.
- Use the slider to weave one end of the webbing around the O-ring.
- Repeat the process with the other end to create the part of the harness that goes around the dog’s neck.
- Time to cut the remaining webbing in two. Make sure to get two pieces of 18” (45 cm).
- Fold one of the 18” pieces of webbing around the O-ring.
- Secure the ring around the collar piece.
- Time to sew each part to connect the collar with the girth strap on the chest.
- Time to slide the girth straps to the top and bottom loops.
- Proceed to pad the collar if you want to.
That’s all you need to do to make your dog walking harness.
Other Necessary Equipment for Dog Sledding
Harnesses are not the only thing you’ll need to start your dog sledding team or use the sled as transport.
Dog sledding requires many accessories and tools to make the experience safe for you and your dogs.
Here’s all you are going to need for dog sledding:
A Dog Sled
This is the second most important aspect of dog sledding; the first is your dog team. A dog sled can be big or small, and it can carry you, items, or both. You can find dog sleds made of different materials and for different styles of dog sledding, so choose yours wisely.
If you plan to do some dog sledding racing, you’ll need an expedition kind of sled. Expedition sleds allow the necessary gear that is mandatory for dog sledding races. It will enable the dogs to move at a certain speed.
Gangline or Necklines
Another critical piece is the gangline or neckline, and it is the part of the dog sled attached to the dogs. The gangline will depend on the type of harness you’ll be using, so keep that in mind when buying a new harness or a new gangline.
This is like the brakes of the dog sled. It will allow you to anchor your sled and your dogs if you need to stop at any given time.
If you are new to dog sledding, then you might be wondering why booties. Well, dogs are running through snow and ice during dog sledding races, and that can lead to cuts on their paws. The booties avoid any injuries while pulling and prevent snow from accumulating on their feet.
Not all dogs can withstand the cold temperatures of places like Alaska, Canada, Greenland, or the Antarctic. Huskies and Siberians will not have problems with the weather.
Still, other breeds will need a bit of help, especially during winter. For larger breeds, we recommend the MIGOHI Reflective Waterproof Windproof Dog Coat.
If you have male dogs, then you need to protect their genitals. If not, it can lead to frostbites and a lot of pain for your dogs. Keep them warm with male wraps to avoid any injuries.
As with males, females also need protection. Belly wraps will prevent any sort of damage to their nipples when pulling on the sleds.
Official dog sledding races will require you to carry a cooker, straws, and other tools to keep yourself fed and warm if something happens. It is essential to bring enough water for you and your dogs and food as they will need it after pulling heavyweight.
Making a dog harness for dog sledding is the perfect way to avoid high costs.
You’ll have to make sure to use sturdy but soft materials and remember that the kind of harness you’ll need will depend on the weight you plan to pull.
Dog sledding harnesses are padded to protect your dogs from any possible injury. Furthermore, the harness allows the dogs the possibility of movement at great speed. So keep that in mind when making your dog harness for dog sledding.
Overall, dog sledding is an ancient form of transportation, and it is part of the bond between humans and dogs. Keep your dogs and yourself safe and warm during dog sledding, and you should have a magnificent experience.