Lead Dogs Getting You Down the Trail

People often ask how we choose lead dogs. That is a good question with a complicated answer.
One of the most common assumptions our guests have is that the smartest dogs always make the best leaders, this is not always true (especially if the dog is smarter than the trainer). The problem with too smart of a leader is that they have a tendency to get bored with their job, and come up with creative new ideas when they are not needed or welcome (think of a bored six year old).
Another common assumption is that every dog wants to be a dog sledding leader. Once again this is not true; just as some people crumble in leadership positions, so do some dogs. The lead position carries with it extra stress and responsibility, so oftentimes females fill the role best. Some dogs are best suited back in the team where they can engage their muscles and let their brains rest. The bottom line is the best leaders are dogs who want to be the leader.
So then what does make a good leader. That depends on your definition of a good leader. A good touring leader has a variety of unique skills. You want a dogs that is happy to work with you, and able to take on the extra duties of a leader. These duties include; taking directional commands, holding your team tight in line, passing other teams you may encounter, and breaking trail through fresh snow.
Once you have chosen a prospective leader, it is time to find out if you have chosen wisely. Discovering the right dog to be a leader is only the beginning, now the real work begins, and it will continue for the dogs career. Stay tuned for future blogs to learn about what that work entails.