What the Heck is That Rope Doing There?

Many of our customers are confused about what the meaning of the rope attached to the top of any of our short style harnesses is for. Many of our customers mistakenly remove this rope. The name of this rope is a “tug”. All Howling Dog Alaska harnesses feature tugs, as it is a common feature for all sled dog harnesses. Below are the three main reasons for having a tug attached to a short harness:

1. Attaching the line/leash to the tug, rather than the D-ring itself, brings the snap (the hardware) further away from the dog’s body. If the snap is attached directly to the D-ring, it will hit the dog’s back repetitively as the dog runs. This can create quite a bit of discomfort (and a sore spot) for the dog.

2. Attaching the line/leash to the tug prevents an accidental release of the dog. This comes in play when the dog twists or tries to get out of the harness. Clipping the snap directly on the D-ring when a dog is acting up can result in the snap catching on the D-ring, twisting and possibly opening. The snap will never accidentally release if it is attached to the tug.

3. Lastly, all of our tugs are color-coded. Each size harness features a different color tug. For example, a small harness has a red tug, a medium harness has a blue tug, a large harness has a green one and so on. This is very important especially for larger kennels who handle and harness many dogs a day. Simply taking a quick look at the tug tells them what size the harness is.

Now you know!

Training tips from Jeff King

1. Offer water and keep it consistent. During the winter months, it can be hard to keep water available to dogs at all times without it freezing. Our solution has been to hand-carry small, white, one-gallon buckets from dog to dog whenever necessary. After a training run? Here come the white buckets. A hot afternoon? Here come the white buckets. Catch a dog eating snow? Here come the white buckets. Dogs aren’t eating their dinner? You get the picture… We do this often enough that anytime they see that small white bucket they know water is coming and they transition into great drinkers. This is an invaluable habit when we get out on the race trail. Shiny metal bowls mean the food is coming and white buckets mean water is coming. Consistency.

2. Train the dog, not the team. These are individual athletes we are working with and they need to be treated as such.  Here at Husky Homestead we rarely panic about a dog missing a few training runs. Catering to the needs of each dog is a great way to receive elevated performance from the team as a whole when race time arrives.

3. Move ‘em around. Pay attention to where dogs are running in the team and assess their performance based on that position. Young dogs, especially, can look great on one side of the tow line and borderline drunk on the other. Got a healthy dog that you are still not getting a smooth gait out of? Try a different harness. We have had success with the Howling Dog Hybrid Light Weight Harness, it allows for standard x-back configuration as well as side pull options. On certain dogs, we have gone so far as to rotate between both tug points and both sides of the tow-line in the same run for a total of four different arrangements. This diversity in tug points and pull angles allows a dog to work different muscles and build a more uniform strength or “protect” an area of concern if coming back from an injury.

Aliy Zirkle explains the benefits of Howling Dog Alaska’s Distance Harness

Aliy with her leaders Mismo and Dutch at the finish line of the 2019 Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Top Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle has been using Howling Dog Alaska’s Distance Harness with great success on her dogs for many years now. Below, she describes the benefits of this harness for use in long-distance mushing.

Allows Individuality

The Distance Harness system allows each dog to work on the team as an individual. They do not have to fit into a system of “one size or style fits all”. A small dog with short steps can run paired with larger dogs, short-legged dogs can run alongside long gaited teammates and lopers can run with trotters. Individual gait preference does not affect a dog’s running partner. 

Aliy Zirkle of SP Kennel

Howling Dog Alaska has the Distance Harness available in a variety of sizes – from an XXS size to XXXL size. This harness style will accommodate the majority of dog breeds out there. No matter whether you have a large team of dogs or a team of two skijoring dogs, our simple Distance Harness will make it easier for your canines to work in unison. – Ivana, owner HDA

Location of the pulling point allows dogs to run without crabbing or crooked gaits

Location of Pulling Point

The Distance Harness is a light-weight, well-padded, half-harness design with a pulling point about halfway down the dog’s back. The dog’s pulling point can rotate around its torso, thus eliminating any downward pressure on the dog’s back or hips. The dog’s hind end is completely unencumbered. After a dog gets accustomed to running with no pressure on their rear end, they can relax and will find a comfortable natural gait. I’ve never seen a sled dog who is accustomed to a Distance Harness pull off to the side, run crooked or with a sideways “crabbing” gait.

Aliy Zirkle of SP Kennel

We have designed the Distance Harness so it moves around the dog’s body comfortably. A couple of “pivot” locations and a floating top connection are crucial to the overall harness performance. The harness will rotate around the torso as the dog changes directions without causing discomfort or without altering the dog’s gait. Due to the flexible top connection, for dogs on larger teams, the Distance Harness becomes a side-pull harness – a feature Aliy and other long-distance mushers prefer. – Ivana, owner HDA

A single point of attachment to the team

Single Attachment to Team

Each dog on our teams are attached to the mainline at only one pulling point. There is no need for a neckline. Our Distance Harness tug line is shorter than a traditional setup and maintains team cohesion. The fact that there is no neckline means there is no front end body restriction. A dog can move side to side and up and down without constraint. Therefore with the single attachment system, a dog has the freedom to choose its own path along a race trail: it can jump trail hazards, navigate sharp turns, and sidestep obstacles.

Aliy Zirkle of SP Kennel

Because the health of all canine athletes is a top concern for us at Howling Dog Alaska, we designed the Distance Harness to give freedom of movement to each dog to avoid obstacles, minimizing common injuries. Four-time Iditarod Champion Jeff King pioneered this Distance Harness “no neckline” set up several years back. Both he and Aliy agree on the benefit of running without necklines. – Ivana, owner HDA

Click here for additional Distance Harness info and to purchase.

What is the best harness for your dog’s needs?

We quite often see that people struggle to make an informed decision about what harness to purchase. Some of them, unfortunately, use the incorrect harness for their needs. Nowadays it is common to get the wrong piece of advice on social media. Here is a helpful and much-needed explanation about which harness style will be most suitable for your activity depending on your dog’s work ethics and experience.


Our Distance Harness is the best harness for your needs. It is a short harness made out of heavy-duty webbing. The harness is well padded around the neck, on the breastplate, and on the top. It will keep its shape while on the dog. There is no bunching up. For beginner dogs, the harness is difficult to back out of.

The pull force comes from the TOP of the harness.


Our Second Skin / Tough Skin Harness style is best for your needs. It is a very comfortable shorter harness made out of soft fabric. It hugs the body like a glove when the dog is pulling. However, it will bunch up some when the dog is not pulling or when running loose.

The pull force comes from both the TOP and the SIDES of the harness.


An x-back harness is the most comfortable harness for hard pullers, as the pull-force is most evenly distributed. A hard pulling dog will be able to lean into this full-length harness without the neck opening riding up on the dog’s throat. An x-back harness will hug the body nicely under a full pull force. However, it will bunch up some when the dog is not pulling. We offer several different x-back harnesses, including our fully padded Light Weight Harness, the Hound Harness, and the Standard Harness.

The pull force comes mostly from the SIDES of the harness.

Keep in mind that the harder your dog pulls, the more evenly distributed pull force needs to be on the harness you need. Also, the slower the pace, the harder your dog will pull. A poorly fitted harness or a harness that is not suitable for hard- pullers or for the given activity, will ride up on your dog’s throat, causing discomfort.

We hope you found this information helpful. Feel free to CONTACT US should you need help with harness sizing, or advising you further about what harness style will be best for your needs.

Team Howling Dog 2019-2020

ALIY ZIRKLE & ALLEN MOORE (Alaska, USA): Long-distance mushing

Aliy and Allen are on board for yet another season! And we are honored. This famous wife & husband duo are known not only for their outstanding race performance but also for dog care that is second to none.

Aliy and Allen own and operate SP Kennel – a premier sled dog kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska. They strive to be the best they can through complete dedication to their canine teammates and the sport.

Keep an eye on Aliy’s Red Team this winter as she mushes down the Iditarod trail, and keep an eye on Allen’s Black Team, as he takes his team down the Yukon Quest trail.

Check out SP Kennel’s website.

Aliy’s and Allen’s have been using our Distance Harness with great success for many years.

JEFF KING (Alaska, USA): Long-distance mushing

The four-time Iditarod Champion is taking a break from racing this winter. For the first time in decades, Jeff did not sign up for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The main reason was an unexpected surgery for torn rotator cuff repairs in late July. Jeff is pleased to report his first six weeks post-op and PT has been stunning. He is so excited to get this long-time chronic shoulder pain behind him and get back on the sled!

While recovering, Jeff is concentrating on an overhaul and complete facelift to his winter dog lot, which at the end should impress even the most critical observer.  It is Jeff’s intention to continue to lead by example in the world of dog mushing and dog care in every way. 

Visit Jeff’s Husky Homestead website.

Jeff’s harness of choice has been our Hybrid Light Weight Harness

BLAKE & JENNIFER FREKING (Minnesota, USA): Long-distance mushing

Welcome to the team, Blake & Jennifer!

Blake and Jennifer own Manitou Crossing Kennels in Northern Minnesota, where they raise and train their Siberian Huskies. Combined, they have accumulated nearly six decades of mushing experience and together have run 4 Iditarods, the Yukon Quest, 17 Beargrease Marathons, and many other races in Alaska, Canada, Lower 48 and Europe.  Blake, a civil engineer, is a 2-time Beargrease Champion.  Jennifer, a veterinarian, ran her first Iditarod in 2008 and was awarded the Most Inspirational Musher award by her fellow mushers. In 2019 they finished 1st and 2nd in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

Blake and Jennifer’s primary focus is the preservation of the working Siberian Husky. Their goal is to raise their dogs in the best environment possible with great socialization, the best nutrition available and optimal training to allow them to perform to their potential on the trail.  They strive to enable their dogs to be happy and healthy from start to finish of every race.

And let’s not forget their daughters Elena and Nicole (ages 7 and 9) who also enjoy helping out in the kennel, socializing puppies and running teams.

Visit Blake & Jennifer’s website. Watch a video about their kennel.

Blake & Jennifer have been using our Light Weight Harnesses on their racing Siberians.

KATI & MARTIN DAGENAIS (Quebec, Canada): Sprint mushing

Kati & Matin own a premier limited class sprint racing kennel located in Quebec, Canada. They specialize in 6-dog racing. They took their team both to Europe and to Alaska, where they competed at the highest level.

This season Kati & Martin are having a lot of fun training and developing their talented puppies and yearlings. With Kati being the main driver, they will be focusing not only on the 6 dogs class but also on the 4 dogs class. Their intention is to race in the major sprint races in Quebec and the Lower 48. If everything goes according to plan, Kati & Martin will also take a drive up to Alaska to race in the Limited North American in Fairbanks on the best sprint trails in the world.

Visit Dagenais Racingsleddogs Facebook page.

The harness of choice for Team Dagenais is our Light Weight Harness.

ANDREY & ALLA NAYDENKO (Russia): Sprint mushing

Andrey and Alla are from Moscow, Russia. They own a kennel of Eurohunds named Crazy Dog Kennel, and they specialize in 4-dog sprint racing. Right now they are the fastest four-dog team in Russia. Both Andrey and Alla hold the title Master of Sports, which is a big honor in Russia. They travel all over Europe so that they can enter all the prestigious races.

This season Andrey and Alla are hoping to reach the podium at the European Championship and to travel to all the World Cup races. Besides 4-dog class, they might also try their luck in the 6-dog class.

Visit Andrey and Alla’s Facebook page.

Andrey and Alla’s dogs are running comfortably in our Chest Protectors, Hybrid Running Jackets and our Light Weight Harnesses.

RICH KISSELOFF (Illinois, USA): Skijoring, scootering & bikejoring

During the past season, Rich and his running partner Guinness (a Greyster) had some really nice performances on the world racing scene. This upcoming season they will have a new addition to the team:  Trek, Guinness’s son, will be added to the mix as a yearling.

Rich opted not to attend IFSS Dryland World Championship in Sweden this year, but he will attend some big dryland races nonetheless. This year’s version of the Bristol Dryland race will serve as Canada’s National Championships race.  Rich was selected as one of the few Americans to participate in the championships class. A week later Rich and his team will race on US soil at the Dirty Dog Dryland Derby in Wisconsin, which usually brings out some of the best US competitors.

The winter season will have Rich competing for the SkijorUSA race series and possibly a few sled events as well. Rich and his team are looking forward to another full and busy schedule for 2020.

Let’s not forget to mention that Rich is the founder of Windy City Mushers Club – a group of mushing enthusiasts in the Chicago area. Visit Windy City Mushers Facebook page.

Rich uses our Skijoring Belt PRO and our Skijoring Line PRO.

CARLOS VALADEZ (Mexico): Canicross & bikejoring

We are pleased to introduce our new team member, Carlos (nickname Cobi) from Mexico! Carlos competes in canicross with my his two German Shephard girls Hasen and Nima.

He entered his first race in 2016 and has since come a long way. By November 2018 he achieved his first podium placement in canicross with Nima, the craziest of the pack, at the Mexican Championship. He won another two podiums in bikejoring and canicross at the Mexican Cup this last February competing for a place at the next IFSS Dryland World Championships (now that Mexico has been recognized as a member of IFSS and ICF).

And now it’s finally official, Carlos has qualified for the IFSS World Championship! Congratulations! He will be the first Mexican male representative for canicross in such race.

Canicross is a young sport in Mexico, and Carlos is doing a wonderful job representing Howling Dog. He is a part of a team called Trail Mushing Team in the state of Mexico. With many teams throughout the country, the members are promoting these incredible activities with their dogs.

Interested to find out more about mushing in Mexico? Visit Mushing Mexico Facebook page.

Carlos is using our Canicorss Belt and our Skijoring Line PRO. His German Shepherd girls are running in our Second Skin Harnesses.

JON MOORE (USA, Texas): Canicross

Welcome aboard, Jon! Jon, an avid runner, is from Austin, Texas. His dog Rush joins Jon on his runs and also during all the races. The two are a true “urban” canicross team.

Jon & Rush won “Top Dog” in multiple races including the Strut Your Mutt 5k in Dallas.  They also placed 3rd overall in the “Wild Canyon Ultra 25k” which Rush was the only dog.  They competed in the Wild Canyon Ultra and in the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, CO (in the Rocky Dog 5K).  Attempting to be crowned “Fastest Dog in Austin” is also on the calendar in the Sunshine Run this season.

  Rush is an Australian Cattle Dog. His accomplishments show that canicross can be undertaken with pretty much any athletic breed. Keeping active is the best a human can do for their four-legged friend.

Check out Jon’s Instagram page.

Jon is using our Canicross Belt and our Leash with Bungee. Rush is wearing our Distance Harness.

Behind the scenes of Howling Dog Alaska

Have you ever wondered who is involved in our daily operations? Well, here we are!


Ivana is the Founder of Howling Dog Alaska and the main driving force behind the scenes. A big dog lover, she has been involved with sled dogs for the past 30 years. She has transitioned from a competitive sprint musher to a passionate business owner. Ivana spent most of her mushing career in Alaska and raced all over the world. Her kennel was one of the first kennels in the US to start breeding imported Scandinavian pointer crosses. Ivana coined the new name for this type of a dog – the Eurohound. Ivana’s extensive knowledge of everything related to sled dogs has transformed into designing top working dog gear. Ivana is now retired from racing and spends her free time pursuing her new passion – golf.  Read more.


Ami is our Customer Advisor – a knowledgeable and accomplished go-to person when needing advice regarding harness fitting & selection, supplement use and much more. Same as Ivana, Ami spent many years in Alaska learning from and racing against some of the best teams in the world.  Ami retired from mushing shortly after the 2013 IFSS Winter World Championships. where she may have been the happiest silver medalist on record. Ami now lives in Montana with four of her retired race dogs and one new, young addition. Ami will be happy to advise you on anything starting with hiking, skijoring and scootering, and ending with sledding.


Meet the geek behind the scenes of an online business! Chaim is a Simulation Specialist for the US Army. Although he holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago, Chaim is an autodidact when it comes to computers, programming, and electronics. He wrote his first computer game in BASIC on a Tandy Model I Level I and stored the program on a cassette tape. Amateur radio introduced him to electronics while the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi provided a medium to combine computing, programming, and electronics into one hobby. In his spare time, he likes to play PC games and occasionally develops his own. And of course, he loves dogs!


If you ever purchased Nutrazinc from us, Samile most likely had her hand in the cookie jar. Oh, excuse me, the zinc jar! 😉 You can call Samile our “Lab Technician”. She studies biology and is passionate about science. Samile, originally from Brazil, is an outstanding worker, always ready to lend a hand wherever needed. Plus all the animals at Howling Dog Alaska headquarters adore her! 🙂

Office supervisor & models

And last, but not least, we should introduce Alaska, the cat, the office supervisor. And then there are the dogs: Minnie (the matriarch), Dasher (Minnie’s son), and Aura (Dasher’s daughter) – three generations of Eurohounds, and the continuation of Ivana’s dog breeding legacy. All three dogs are an important part of our business. They are the main models on our website, and they are the “guinea pigs” and testers of our newly developed gear. But most importantly they are all spoiled members of our Howling Dog Alaska family. 

Announcing the winners of our 2019 Photo Contest!


Photo submitted by Phil Niles (United States). A huge congratulations, Phil! 🙂

The photo features our Light Weight Harness, our Skijoring Line, and our Skijoring Belt. Phil’s dog Bella is pulling hard in her first skijoring race!


Photo submitted by Lisa Shore (United States).

Handsome Sebastian, a Siberian Husky, is sporting his Tough Skin Harness while out on the trails.


Photo submitted by CJ Jones (United States).

Chopper is posing at Red Rock Canyon in Colorado. Chopper is wearing our best-selling Distance Harness.


Photo submitted by Lorrie Covington (United States).

Tilly, an 18-month standard poodle, completing her first 5k run wearing her Distance Harness.

View complete vote tallies HERE.

Countdown to Iditarod at SP Kennel

Taking a break during one of the last training runs before the big race.

In only one week Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore will be on the runners behind their teams heading towards Nome. Aliy explains what the last few days leading up to Iditarod look like:

Iditarod – here we come! SP Kennel sled dogs and mushers are almost to the starting line. The week prior to the big event is probably my most stressful. If you are an organized person, like me, then you like to have everything ready for your race. I try to categorize my week in four parts in order to make it manageable.

  1. Of course, number one is always the dogs. Iditarod requires that all potential race dogs have blood drawn and ECGs. These tests will be analyzed by doctors in Anchorage prior to the race. The head Iditarod Vet, Dr Stu Nelson, will call us if he sees any anomalies with our dogs’ health. As well, we are required to worm all the dogs before they take to the trails that go in and out of many Alaskan villages. It is a safety precaution for the dogs and the people. Then of course there are a thousand “other things” to check before the race: toenails, ears, eyes and attitude. As a dog owner – I should be well aware of any issues with my dogs – but just in case I miss something – we have our Vet, Dr Rouge – come out to the kennel and give each dog a full health check one week before race start.
  2. Number two is gear. There is so much that I carry with me for 1,000 miles of wilderness travel by dog team. Hopefully, it is not a lot of weight, but is a well thought out, packed sled with anything and everything I might need. I like to check all this gear before I get on the trail making sure that I have enough of certain things and that they aren’t worn out or old. Checking harnesses, lines, snow hooks and the sled is just the start. I sort through my med kit, thermos, straw bag, sleeping bag, extra clothing, mitts, tool kit… the list is endless.
  3. Final training runs is number three. As I prepare for the Iditarod, I can’t forget that the athletes – all of us – still need to stretch out, run and train like we have a 1,000 mile race ahead of us. It is easy to get caught up in the race hype as well as the last minute preparations but it is best to stay consistent with training. The dogs should stay on a regular run schedule, with a small taper near the end. And my work out schedule stays the same until the bitter end as well.
  4. Lastly, we need to get to the starting line. This is a biggie. For us mushers, dogs, sleds and gear will be driven about 400 miles to Anchorage for the Iditarod start. Dog trucks are notorious for not functioning correctly when you need them to, sleds fall out of trailer and dogs get left at the kennel! Loading and unloading dogs into their travel boxes needs to be done with extreme care – we do not need any pinched toenails or toes. Drive cautiously and take your time – you are not racing… yet! For Iditarod, as well as the Yukon Quest, there are festivities and meetings several days before the start. Make sure the dogs get stretch out time and proper feeding while the mushers attend ‘Meet & Greet’s” and banquet.

This is what my last week looks like, but after that …. Iditarod here I come. 3 – 2 – 1 GO!

Team Howling Dog 2018-2019

JEFF KING (Alaska, USA) – long distance mushing

There is not much we need to say to introduce this four-time Iditarod Champion. Howling Dog Alaska has been one of Jeff’s main sponsors for many years now. And here we are, with yet another season ahead of us!

Jeff King is often recognized as the “Winningest Musher in the World.” He holds four championship titles for the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1993, 1996, 1998, and 2006. Jeff took first place in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest in 1989 in addition to earning twenty-four other first-place titles in races across Alaska and other parts of North America. Jeff was inducted into the Iditarod Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. In 2006, at age 50, he became the oldest musher to win the Iditarod. Jeff King has twice received the prestigious Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award for exemplary care of his dog team. He has logged more than 150,000 miles on a dogsled over the past thirty-five years.

Jeff enjoys living just outside of Alaska’s Denali National Park and sharing his life with his sled dogs. He is well known for several inventions in the dog mushing equipment field. In the summer months, his kennel Husky Homestead welcomes visitors from around the world to watch his sled dogs in action, hear stories of adventure, learn about Alaskan Huskies, the tradition of dog mushing and the life and spirit of Alaska, the last frontier. A natural-born storyteller, Jeff shares a lifetime of adventure stories in public speaking engagements and in his book Cold Hands Warm Heart.

Visit Jeff’s Husky Homestead website.

Jeff’s harness of choice is our Hybrid Light Weight Harness and our Distance Harness.

ALIY ZIRKLE & ALLEN MOORE (Alaska, USA) – long distance mushing

Howling Dog Alaska is very proud to have this famous wife & husband duo, known not only for their outstanding race performance but also for dog care that is second to none, on board again this season.

Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore own and operate SP Kennel – a premier Alaskan Husky sled dog kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska. They are dedicated to their individual dogs through excellent health, nutrition, training, and care. Aliy and Allen are both Yukon Quest Champions. Allen has won the Copper Basin 300 six times and Aliy has placed in the top five in the Iditarod for the last few years (placing second three consecutive years: 2012, 2013 and 2014).

The future of SP Kennel is evolving. This mushing season, Aliy and Allen will be racing less. The goal in doing this is that they can focus more on individual performances. They will rarely have two teams entered in an event. As you all know, in the past, they raced many events with many dogs and many teams – for instance, it was common for them to have three teams in the Copper Basin 300. However, now their goal for fewer SP Kennel teams to compete and thus, fewer logistics, less preparation, less chaos, and less individual stress and more FOCUS. Their goal this year is simply to win! Quality over quantity.

SP Kennel is a “dog first” Kennel. After a racing career – whether it be long or short – their dogs retire and are placed in carefully screened and selected homes. With cutting back on racing this season, this obviously means that Aliy and Allen need fewer dogs as well and their SP racing dog population can reduce. This summer and fall they actively rehomed dogs that might not have retired at this age in years’ past. But same as in the past, they weren’t in a rush to move any of their dogs because Aliy and Allen needed to find the ideal spot for his or her future forever home. SP Kennel now has dogs all over the world and part of many varied lifestyles.

Check out SP Kennel’s website.

Aliy’s and Allen’s harness of choice has been our Distance Harness for many years now.

MELISSA STEWART & JASON STEWART (Alaska, USA) – long distance mushing

Jason and Melissa Stewart own and operate Owl Creek Kennel in Knik, AK. Owl Creek Kennel’s origins go back to the mid-80’s and was started by Melissa’s parents Mike and Patricia Owens in Nome, AK. Jason’s and Melissa’s goals for this season are not as ambitious as they were in the past since they welcomed their daughter (a future junior musher) to their family a year ago. Jason and Melissa, both Iditarod finishers, will take a break from this 1000 mile long race this year. However, they will enter their team in several mid-distance races throughout Alaska.

Here at Howling Dog, we have a special “soft spot” for Melissa and Jason, as the lineage of the majority of their dogs goes back to dogs bred in our Howling Dog Kennel.

Connect with Melissa and Jason through their Owl Creek Kennel Facebook page.

The harness of choice for Melissa’s and Jason’s dogs is our Tough Skin Harness ULTRA.

AMANDA VOGEL (Minnesota, USA) – mid-distance mushing

Amanda lives in northern Minnesota, just south of the northwest Ontario border. She is the owner and operator of Snomad Racing. Besides competing in races such as the 400 mile John Beargrease Marathon, Snomad Racing also travels for exhibitions and speaking engagements; works on TV, film, and modeling projects, and puts winter and mushing products to extreme tests for sponsors committed to making the toughest gear and equipment on the market. When Amanda is not training and racing, she is found volunteering for the Kabetogama Fire and EMS departments, raising pups, exploring woods and waters, and laughing with good friends. Amanda is excited about a group of young dogs she will be working with this winter.

Snomad Racing offers sled dog rides during their fall training season in the comforts of a fully enclosed and heated 5 seat side by side!! If you’d like to meet Amanda’s dogs and learn about training, contact her at snomadracing@yahoo.com

If you would like to meet Amanda’s dogs or to learn more about the training of canine athletes, visit Snomad Racing Facebook Page.

Amanda’s harness of choice is our Distance Harness and our Tough Skin Harness.

KATI & MARTIN DAGENAIS (Quebec, Canada) – sprint mushing

Dagenais Kennel is a premier limited class sprint racing kennel located in Quebec, Canada, specializing in 6-dog and 8-dog class.

Kati’s team won almost every race they entered from the beginning of her racing career (since 2008). Kati & Martin traveled to Alaska where she won the Limited North American Championship in 6-dog class, where her team broke the track record on relatively slow trail conditions. Kati also won the IFSS World Championship in North Pole, Alaska in 2013 in the 8-dog class. In 2015 Kati & Martin and their team traveled to Germany to compete in yet another IFSS World Championship. They returned home with a bronze medal! And last, but not least, in a very tough European Championship in Italy last season Kati had the fastest time in the 6-dog class on the last day of the race.

Besides racing the Québec sprint circuit, Kati & Martin plan to fly to Europe yet again to meet their biggest competition in the 2019 IFSS World Championship in France. We look forward to having Team Dagenais represent Howling Dog Alaska at the highest level!

Visit Dagenais Racingsleddogs Facebook page.

The harness of choice for Team Dagenais is our Light Weight Harness.

JULIE BLOCH (France) – sprint mushing

After sitting the last season out due to the arrival of her son Esteban, Julie is back! Julie is an accomplished sprint 6-dog class racer.

Julie is very good with her dogs and works with them a lot on obedience. She spends as much time to work them in individual training as she spends on training them as a team. It is really important for Julie to have dogs that are happy in their everyday “normal” dog life, but also in their working dog life. Such an approach shows positive results, as Julie’s team became the World Champions in 2015 in the 6-dog class. Julie also holds multiple French Champion titles (since 2012).

Julie owns a small kennel of about ten dogs. All of Julie’s dogs were born in her kennel and are the result of a very specific breeding selection. The plan for this season is for Julie and her team to do as well as possible in the 2019 IFSS World Championship in France. It will be a true challenge after a winter off and a pregnancy, but Julie belives that with the help of her future husband Sebastien she can do it!

Check out Julie’s Facebook page.

Julie has been supplementing our Staminex to her canine athletes for many years now.

ANDREY & ALLA NAYDENKO (Russia) – sprint mushing

Andrey and Alla are a NEW ADDITION to our Team Howling Dog. Welcome, guys! They live in Moscow, Russia and specialize in racing in the four-dog class (both dryland and on snow). Andrey and Alla are both accomplished mushers. Their kennel’s name is Crazy Sled Dog Team.

Their team has many victories under the belt, including being the Russian Champion twice. Andrey and Alla often travel to race abroad in Baltic countries, Finland and central Europe. Their biggest goal for this season it to travel to France to compete in the 2019 IFSS World Championship. Welcome aboard, Andrey & Alla!

Visit Andrey’s Facebook page.

Andrey and Alla use our Tough Skin Harnesses and also our DuraCoats.

RICH KISSELOFF (Illinois, USA) – skijoring, scootering & bikejoring

Once again Rich has teamed up with us for yet another racing season! It is imporant for us here at Howling Dog to be also represented in an individual sled dog sport. Rich has been with us pretty much from the start of his racing career. We have provided Rich with technical support and offered quality and functional gear. Howling Dog Alaska also supports Windy City Mushers Club – a group of mushing enthusiasts Rich founded a few years back in the Chicago area.

Rich is in for another exciting season – whether dryland or on snow. Same as Martin & Kati, Andrey & Alla and Julie, Rich is also planning on competing in the 2019 IFSS World Championship in France.

Visit Windy City Mushers Facebook page.

Rich has been using our Skijoring Belt PRO and our Standard Harnesses.

Ask a Champion: Rich Kisseloff on how to teach your dog to pull

Here is a training tip from Rich Kisseloff, a competitive bikejorer and skijorer and a member of Team Howling Dog. Those of you who are just getting into the sport, will find this helpful.

Question from Abigail:

“Hi, I have been trying to train my dog to pull for the purpose of skijoring. She is just under a year old and up to this point I have been able to get her to wear a harness I bought from Howling Dog Alaska, and pull along a rope behind her without much trouble. Anything heavier and she won’t move. She has been trained to heel so maybe that has something to do with it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.”

Abigail, that’s a great question and one that I went through with my very first dogs.  The fact that they have been trained to heel probably does play into their not wanting to pull.  Now you have to counter that with conditioning the dog to now pull when they have a harness on.

When I first started out, I found the best way to train the dogs was to hook up a tire or something heavy to pull.  I’m assuming your dog is about a year old now or close to it, so short training sessions should be ok.  I started out with a small car tire, that was too heavy, then I moved down to a motorcycle tire which worked out great.  I started out by hooking my dog(s) up and running out in front and calling him/them to me.  Once he/they graduated to that I then walked/ran out in front while they tried to keep up with me.  Once I felt confident they could do it I slowly weaned myself off the front and slowly drifted back to where I could give them commands from behind.  Sometimes I had my then girlfriend run out in front or ride a bike slowly ahead of us.  Mind you I did most of this in apartment complex parking lot that I was living at.  I eventually went out to jogging trails and eventually took it off road.  It’s very important if you can have someone being a “rabbit” out in front.  With luck and proper training, hopefully, they will soon “get it” and eventually pull without needing the “rabbit”.

In one and two dog sports as with sled and other disciplines, the idea is not for them to totally always be pulling dead weight.  There is a fine line between helping them to the point that they don’t get lazy and not want to pull.  You can help them too much that all they are doing is running.  You always want them to have some sort of tension or friction when in training so that in a race, should you decide to ever race, that way they will always pull when it gets hard.  Many big sled teams use ATVs in early season training to build muscle by actually having the dogs pull and they run a lower gear so it’s a little harder on them.  This is getting a little more advanced, so I’ll keep it at that for now.

Training in different types of terrain and distances always helps so they don’t get bored.  Keep the training changing.  The biggest thing with people just starting out is to also remember that you don’t have to go out for miles and miles.  Most house dogs and pets just do this recreationally so just doing a couple hundred yards to a couple miles once they are doing it on their own is all they need to do.  When not training or walking on a leash you could also be teaching them commands like gee and haw.  Parking lots full of cars and sidewalks work great for that.  Remember to always think of the dog’s safety first, so remember to train only during cool temperatures and keep them hydrated and always have water and a bowl handy.  Lastly, keep it fun.  Don’t run or train a dog into the ground, or to exhaustion every training session.  You need to leave a little bit in the tank.  You want to make it fun for them.  You want them to look forward to their next training session.  Don’t forget this is like any other training too, so if they are food motivated then use treats.

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