The truth about COOLING VESTS

Cooling Vests

There is a new trend out there: COOLING VESTS (COOLING JACKETS). These are the reasons Howling Dog Alaska does not offer them:

  1. We offer proven and functioning equipment only.
  2. In our opinion cooling vests are just a sales gimmick.
  3. The effect of a cooling vest is minimal and short-lived.
  4. You can put any dog coat on, soak it and call it a cooling jacket.
  5. A cooling vest/cooling jacket won’t cool the dog off in a long run. Quite the opposite.
  6. The material (even if wet) will warm up to the dog’s body temperature quickly.
  7. The temperature under the fabric will rise drastically.
  8. Putting a dog jacket on – even if it is called a “cooling” jacket (or any layer of fabric) during warm part of the year will eventually make the dog hotter.
  9. We feel that “cooling” jackets/”cooling” vests are not beneficial for a dog. Just soak the dog’s fur or let him jump in the water to cool off!

EQUIPMENT TIP: Harness breast plate fundamentals

SiberiansTeamIn this article I am going to explain which harness breast plate designs are superior and why. This information is essential to the overall well-being of your dog(s).

I bet most of you own harnesses with “single wide” breast plate (this means that the breast plate is constructed from single piece of webbing or from two pieces of webbing, which are overlapping). Did you ever stop your team (or your single dog) while running, gone up front, turned around and looked at the dog(s) from the front view? If you did not, I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND doing so! You will be amazed just how many harnesses will be rubbing the dog in the armpit (the harness will turn to a side and the breast plate will end up in the armpit of the dog). See the illustrational photo of the dog team (notice the breast plate sliding in to the armpit on every dog in the team causing discomfort and possible harness rub). This happens mostly (but not always) while traveling at lower speeds, speeds the dog is not comfortable with, speeds which will make the dog “crab” (=run sideways). If you are just a recreational musher or the owner of single dog doing canicross, you most likely never even noticed the discomfort of your dog being caused by the harness rubbing in the armpit. But if you are a more “serious” musher who puts many miles on the team during the season, you are probably ending up with many under arm rubs. This is all due to POOR HARNESS SELECTION! Harness rub can be prevented! Every dog can run comfortably!

The construction of breast plates on Howling Dog Alaska Harnesses will keep the harnesses centered nicely on pretty much any dog. We originally designed our harnesses to be as comfortable as possible for the use on our own dogs. Those include our Light Weight Harness, our Hound Harness, our Wheel Dog Harness, our Second Skin Harness and others. The fact that our harnesses will stay centered so nicely is all due to the special construction of the breast plate. We do not carry any harnesses with single wide breast plate (this excludes the Distance Harness, which does not fall in to this category). Our expertise gives us an edge over other manufacturers, which might not even own a dog (hint, hint!). As always, it comes down to years of working with top racing sled dogs and to our understanding of functioning harness design.

Public Statement


October 8, 2013

I am writing this in response to most recent slanderous and libelous comments made by and its affiliates.

I dropped as one of our manufacturers due to the actions of Jaroslav Soumar (the owner of During our cooperation all equipment made by for Howling Dog Alaska featured our Howling Dog Alaska tags. However Mr. Soumar ( had been putting Howling Dog Alaska labels even on products which were not made directly for Howling Dog. was selling those products all over the world for years without our knowledge, and without any compensation to us. There were (and still are) several web sites (distributors of that are showing gear with the Howling Dog Alaska logo on it! Howling Dog told Mr. Soumar many times to refrain from using the Howling Dog Alaska name, but he has refused.

We are currently trying to put a stop to this, since this is an infringement of the Howling Dog Alaska trademark. There is a legal action pending against (Mr. Soumar) in the Czech Republic, since Mr. Soumar was using our name for personal gain without our permission. affixed Howling Dog Alaska branded tags to products never sold, endorsed, and in some cases outright rejected as unworthy, by Howling Dog Alaska.

Now to answer a couple of questions some of you were asking:

1.            Is the trademark ManMat registered under my name in the US?

Yes it is. This is a public record. USPTO Trademark Registration no. 4 167,836

2.            Is Howling Dog using similar webbing patterns to those used by

Similar, but not identical pattern is used in three of Howling Dog Alaska’s products.

When Howling Dog Alaska began selling mushing products in 1999, the ManMat name and webbing pattern were known only to a small group of people within the Czech Republic. It was Howling Dog Alaska that sold products manufactured by ManMat throughout North America and I, Ivana Nolke, developed new, functioning products suited for the US market. When those products were imported into North America by Howling Dog Alaska for sale, there was a Howling Dog Alaska tag on every item. Howling Dog Alaska, not ManMat, spent money promoting those items. As Howling Dog Alaska’s research and development efforts and designs further increased the sales numbers, that pattern, alongside the Howling Dog Alaska tag, is what Howling Dog Alaska’s customers have come to recognize as the Howling Dog Alaska brand.

Howling Dog Alaska has always operated with a high degree of business ethics and will continue to do so, regardless of the slanderous and libelous comments made by others in the business.

Ivana Nolke

Owner, Howling Dog Alaska

EQUIPMENT TIP: A few facts about harness padding

BadFluffyPadding2Here is another piece of equipment advice for you that only comes after many years of experience working with top racing sled dogs. Let’s talk about fleece harness padding.

Harnesses made with fleece padding have been the most common harnesses on the market for many years. “Fluffy” fleece was the padding on the first x-back harness I ever owned. (The year was 1988.) This was before tougher/better padding material came along. Fleece (most importantly “fluffy” fleece) will not withstand the wear and tear other padding types will. In addition to that in the winter snow will quite often freeze to the padding, on occasion forming ice balls and be uncomfortable for the dog. During rainy, wet or humid conditions, fleece will absorb moisture. And during hot days, fleece will be too warm for the dog. Even though harnesses with fleece padding are the cheapest ones on the market (and quite often they are offered by new/inexperienced manufacturers), be wary. Us here at Howling Dog are staying away from fleece padding for the reasons stated above! We use closed cell padding (foam wrapped in a rip-stop shell) on the majority of our harnesses. This padding has been tested and used for many years on top racing sled dogs. And what works for top canine athletes will work for all the other dogs out there. In the long run you will be better off investing in a harness with good quality padding, rather than keep spending money on harnesses, which are inferior. Unlike 25 years ago, the selection of harnesses on the market is bigger, so take your time, investigate and choose a harness with proper padding (such as our Standard Harness or our Light Weight Harness).

EQUIPMENT TIP: The fact about fleece booties

FleeceBootieGrayHere is a piece of equipment advice for you that only comes after many years of experience working with sled dogs, and will save you money in the long run.

Booties made out of fleece have been the most popular booties on the market for many years. They were the first bootie I ever used on my own dogs in Alaska over 20 years ago. This was before tougher/better booties came along. I did not use booties on my race dogs on a regular basis, only when a foot injury (such as cracked pad) occurred. And let me tell you, I was always so frustrated after each run while taking booties off – that was presuming the bootie was still on the dog’s foot, quite often the bootie would fly off right away. Fleece (even heavyweight polyester fleece) will quite often get holes in it from the dog’s nails even after a short run. And as a result, the bootie would fill with snow, which formed ice balls and it would quite often make the foot injury even worse. And on occasion the bootie filled with snow would freeze to the dog’s foot, making it very painful for the dog when it was taken off. Even if you don’t get holes in your fleece booties right away, you will after couple more runs, guaranteed. And forget about using fleece booties on a hard surface! Even though fleece booties are quite often the cheapest ones on the market (and quite often they are offered by new/inexperienced manufacturers), be wary. In the long run you will be better off investing in a good quality durable bootie, rather than keep spending money on booties, which won’t last. Unlike 20 years ago, the selection of booties on the market is huge, so take your time, investigate and choose the proper bootie. Perhaps our Protector Bootie will be the one. 😉

EQUIPMENT TIP: What collars to stay away from

CollarWithPlasticThis is a piece of equipment advice which will significantly increase the safety of your dog.

There are so many collars out there, which feature a plastic buckle (and on occasion even a plastic slider). Those are the most common collars on the pet market. And if you look at your regular “Fido”, this is the type of a collar he will be most likely wearing. But there is a reason why you won’t see such collars on the dogs of professional mushers. The reason is: PLASTIC BREAKS! Yes, a plastic buckle is the weakest link on a collar. It is a huge safety hazard, as a dog who is attached by such collar that all of the sudden pulls/jerks, can break such buckle easily (especially in below freezing temperatures). Plastic buckle is also prone to chewing, will get banged up easily and it will on occasion lose its flexibility over time. Not to mention that it can open accidentally just by bumping into something.

Even though collars with plastic buckles are the most common ones on the pet market (and quite often they are used and recommended by inexperienced dog owners due to the fact that they are easy to put on and take off), be wary. Us here at Howling Dog are staying away from plastic collar hardware for the reasons stated above! We never used plastic buckles or any other plastic components on our collars and we never will. Check out our Standard Collar or our Padded Collar and see a reliable and professionally designed collar for yourself. And STAY AWAY FROM PLASTIC! 😉

Disclaimer: Our LED Collar features a plastic buckle for easy put-on, easy take-off. However, we do not recommend to use this collar as a main collar. A leash (a neckline) should not be clipped to the LED Collar. This collar is an addition to a regular collar.

Adjusting the HDA Skijoring Belt

Some people might not be aware that you can adjust the waist strap of the HDA Skijoring Belt. Especially when it is brand new, the straps haven’t had a chance to loosen up. We have made a short video to show you how the waist strap can be adjusted side-to-side.

Adjusting the HDA Skijoring Belt
Adjusting the HDA Skijoring Belt


Meet our harness giveaway winner!

Katie, our Harness Giveway winner.
Katie, our Harness Giveway winner.

Congratulations to Katie Winrich, the winning junior musher from our Harness Giveaway! This  12-year-old aspiring junior musher from Reedsville, Wisconsin  was our number one choice and she received a full set of harnesses (harnesses we accumulated through our Trade In/Trade up sale). Katie currently owns three Alaska Huskies and a German shepherd mix. This will be Katie’s 1st racing season and her goal is to run in the 4-dog sprint class. Katie is a very nice, smart and mature young lady, and she won our hearts with her very nice bio write-up. We wish Katie the best luck pursuing her mushing dreams!

Continue reading “Meet our harness giveaway winner!”



Our Trade In/Trade Up Harness Sale was a great success. We ended up with quite a few “recycled” harnesses. We would like to donate those to aspiring junior mushers just as we did two years ago. We will be giving out three sets of 10 harnesses (both x-back style and short style, various manufacturers). To qualify, you must be 16 years of age or younger. E-mail us ( your short “mushing” bio accompanied by a photo of you and your dogs, along with the description of your goals as a musher and story or two about you and your dogs. All entries will be judged by the members of Team Howling Dog. The three junior mushers that show the most enthusiasm, creativity, and concern for the safety and wellbeing their dogs will be chosen for the harness giveaway, and they will be featured in our next newsletter.

• Our number one choice will receive a set of 10 harnesses – those harnesses will be in excellent condition.
• Our number two choice will receive a set of 10 harnesses in very good condition.
• Our number three choice will receive a set of 10 harnesses in good condition. However, there might be a couple which will need a little bit of fixing.

The entry deadline is November 30th, 2012.