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Running in winter, resting in summer: this is how dogs are cared for when mushing

Mushing has become a popular activity due to the attraction of snow expeditions. But how do dogs rest during the summer?

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Snow activities receive all their clients in a few months and depend on specific weather conditions. Therefore, their main characteristic is seasonality, something that affects both clients and instructors, monitors or guides of each of the activities. It also affects the dogs that pull the sleds in the snow, who spend the summer resting and have their own pre-season in order to be ready for the winter. 

What is mushing?  

Among the outdoor sports activities in the winter months, mushing or dog sledding is becoming more and more popular. This experience consists of riding on dog sleds along circuits on snowy roads or in snowy forests. This is one of the disciplines in which the client is able to get closer to the natural environment, both because of the places visited throughout the expedition and because of the presence of the Nordic dogs that are in charge of pulling the sled. 

These animals are thoroughly trained to be able to perform their work without difficulty, but, as with activities, their services are concentrated only in the winter months. So what happens to the dogs when the winter season is over? 

Rest and play in summer  

Running in winter and resting in summer is our maxim in the adventure sports centres we have in Andorra, where this activity is taught. Nordic dogs do not usually live in the same conditions during the winter season as they do during the summer months, when they rest. 

“We have two different kennels: a winter kennel that is smaller to keep out the cold and a summer kennel that is larger, open, with a large yard for them to run in,” explains Albert Panicello, director of the RocRoi snow vertical. This activity takes place at our Grau-Roig base, at the foot of the Grandvalira ski resort.¬†

In this way, the animals are kept together throughout the year so as not to break the balance of the herd and spend the hottest months in a quiet environment away from people. In short, their task from May to November is to rest and run freely in the mountains without following any specific training.   

In winter is when we work the most with them so that they are ready to pull the sledges in the snow without difficulty. To do this, the Nordic dogs begin to train before the services start, with sleds or wheeled carts that they push to gain muscle mass. Their day-to-day life changes completely during these months, as they are basically dedicated to feeding and running.   

“The dogs have socialisation yards inside the kennel so that they can play with each other and always be together,” says the dog handler. In short, the work of dog handlers for sledding in the snow varies depending on the season, but it is a job that requires 365 days a year and that must ensure the perfect physical condition of the animals and their willingness to carry out the activity.¬†¬†¬†

As it is a unique activity that allows access to places in the mountains that cannot be reached by other activities, it requires a great deal of preparation and daily dedication to the care of the animals. In short, the secret to making mushing a success lies in ensuring that the dogs are strong and prepared in winter and can rest properly in summer.