Once the harness is no big deal for your dog, You can do a couple of things from here. First, you can try walking them using the harness and keeping a taunt leash.  If your dog is used to walking beside you, you will also need to teach him when the harness is on that he needs to walk in front of you.  Start out beside him and gradually walk taking steps back.  It may help to have an extra person there who will encourage your dog forward.  

The second is to tie a small piece of firewood (maybe a pound or so in wieght) around the leash (or rope) that is hooked to the back of the harness.  You want your dog to able to drag it around with ease as they get used to dragging something behind them.  We read about using firewood and it works well on snow and dirt as it won't ride up and hit your dog's back legs.  This way they don't get scared away from pulling.  You'll want to increase the weight a little at a time as they feel comfortable.  

With Brut I used to take him once around the backyard, jump up and down with praises and really good treats.  Then after a couple of minutes we would do a couple more laps this same way and that would be enough for the day

You could also walk a ways down the road or up and down your driveway.  Keep the lessons short and fun.  A little bit goes a long way.  Then you can begin increasing the dog's weight pull.  Maybe double it and keep it there until your dog is getting the hang of it.  Do this for several months until you feel the dog is ready to pull an empty sled or a kiddie sled with weight.  

During this training period it is good for your dog to learn some of the basic commands.  

"Hike!" or "Let's Go!" in a high voice means "GO!"

"Whooooooa!" drawn out in a low voice means "Stop"

"Gee" means "Right turn"

"Haw" means "Left turn" 

The most important command for your dog to learn is "Stop."  Once your dog is comfortor with this whole pulling thing, he's going to want to take off and believe you'll want to know how to stop him.  :)



Hooking Your Dog to the Sled

 Once  your dog is used to harness and comfortable with pulling, it's time to have him pull you.  If you have just one dog you can use a 5"-6' leash by wrapping the leash around your sled and hooking the clasp to the back of the dog harness.  

TIP: use a longer leash to connect to your dog's collar that you can hold on to, so that you always have a hold of him just in case.

If you have an extra person have them hold the dog while you get situated on the sled.  

When you start off you'll want to run behind the sled to get your dog started, once he starts to take off and you feel he's pulling on his own, you can hop back on sled and ENJOY the ride.

Don't overdue the first ride, let your dog get the feel for it and keep it short.  A quarter of a mile out or around (if you are on a looped trail) is a good start.  Later you'll be able to lengthen your rides while practicing your commands.  

HINT:  You may have to get on and off the sled, if your dog stops to sniff or gets distracted.  This is quite common, which is why I would advise having the extra leash attached to your dog's collar.  I find that when the dogs stop to smell something, there's not much I can do, so I let do it and try to keep them untangled until they are ready to run again.   I keep the mood as upbeat as I can and since we are doing this just for fun. I try not to get too discouraged.

When you get back home or to your starting place if running a loop, praise your dog like crazy!!  This is when you reward them with food, water and love.  They have done an amazing feat.  I can't express enough to make sledding as much fun as possible.  

Ready to sled again? 

Give your dog a couple of days rest.  One, so he doesn't get bored at sledding and two, rest for those extra muscles he used while pulling you.  After a few days, get out the harness and gauge your dog's reaction.  Is he excited and ready or roll, or is he stepping back, unsure?  You may have to go back to some of the beginning training,( i.e. pulling wood, pulling empty sled around yard) before he is ready to try again.  Never force your dog to do something he isn't ready to do.  I can not stress more about taking your time with your dog and letting him come to you when he is ready.  The more you are lighthearted and make every sledding adventure fun for your dog, the better your sledding relationship will be.  

 TIP:  You can take more than a few days off from sledding.  We only sled about once a week.  If it's seems like it is too much for you or your dog, take a break for a while and then come back to it when you feel you're both ready.  Unless you are getting into serious competitiveness, there's no reason to hurry.