Where you can go dog sledding in NH
For centuries, dog power has been used for long-distance hunting and travel in northern climates. Even today, dog sledding lives in New Hampshire as a recreational winter sport that is perfect, “for just about anyone from 2 to 150,” says Karen Beaulieu, co-owner of Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, a nonprofit sled dog rescue and dog sledding learning center in Jefferson.
Interested? Beaulieu has answers to some of the more common questions the kennel receives about the sport.
How can families learn how to dog sled?
We have a 1.5 hour dog sledding experience for families or groups housed at our sled dog education facility in Jefferson. Kids and their parents can see where the dogs live, how they are cared for, what gear is used in the various seasons and then everyone gets to help the musher set up the team, harness/hitch the dogs and then go for a ride where participants assist in shouting commands and even have the chance to drive! We typically cover anywhere from 7 to 12 miles on these treks, so everyone will get a turn helping out.
For families that want an even more intensive experience, we offer “drive your own team” clinics where kids and their parents learn everything from A-Z involved in driving their own team… and then they do it! At a clinic, families come into the kennel, go for a short ride, practice their skills in a field with a small team and then hitch up some more dogs and head out onto the trail for an extensive 12 miles of driving their own team. They learn how to troubleshoot on the trail, train the dogs, use commands, steer a sled, etc.
How many dogs do you have in your kennel?
Our sled dogs are rescue dogs or second-chance sled dogs. Right now we have more than 100 dogs and that means we have to buy five tons of high-quality Native dog food every couple months. The dogs all come from a variety of situations, but they have a home with us and a job for life.
Can the family pet become a sled dog?
If a family has a northern or working breed dog of their own they want to learn to exercise, we can develop trips where we train them to work with their dog in pulling a small sled and actually have the dog work with ours during their visit, if appropriate.
How else can interested kids learn about dog sledding?
Read Gary Paulsen's Winterdance and the new History of Dog Sledding in New England by Bruce Heald, or watch the Discovery series on the Iditarod (on DVD). Kids can also volunteer at our kennel to help brush and feed the animals. Many families become friends of the kennel for life as their children grown up and so many tell us how much they like helping dogs in need. We've actually had school kids take it upon themselves to run fundraisers to help the dogs; it's pretty amazing how passionate people get about our four-leggers.
More places that offer dog sledding in New Hampshire
- Valley Snow Dogz offers fall and winter dog sledding at various locations including Benton's Sugar Shack in Thornton, NH, Waterville Valley Resort in Waterville Valley, NH and Squam Lakes in Holderness, NH.
- Barking Brook in Bridgewater, NH offers dog sledding tours through the White Mountains.