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.

Trade in & Trade up Harness SALE

Is your team ready for new harnesses? How long have you been holding off making a purchase of top quality harnesses simply because prices are just a bit outside your budget? Well, we have a solution for you! For a limited time we are having a special Trade In/Trade Up HARNESS SALE.

Send us your old harnesses and we will replace them with new ones!

Here is how it works:  For every old harness received, you will get 30% off of two harnesses of your choice!

This discount even beats our 10+ prices! No matter how many dogs you have, how many dogs you need to outfit – one or fifty – this is a win/win deal!  Plus receive FREE SHIPPING on your entire order!

Special Trade In / Trade up harness prices:

–          Distance Harness: $20.30 (regular price $29.00)

–          Standard Harness: $18.20 (regular price $26.00)

–          Polar Harness: $19.60 (regular price $28.00)

–          Light Weight Harness: $17.50 (regular price $25.00)

–          Hound Harness: $17.50 (regular price $25.00)

–          Wheel Dog Harness: $23.03 (regular price $32.90)

–          Pulka Harness: $23.10 (regular price $33.00)

Not sure about what harness style to choose? Visit our Harness Selection Chart.

Mail your old harnesses, a list of desired new harnesses (including harness style, size and color), your address and a check for the total amount due to the address below. Make all checks payable to Howling Dog Enterprises, LLC.

Howling Dog Alaska, 1705 Randolph Court, Leavenworth, KS 66048 (Tel. 913-364-4988)

This offer is valid until October 31, 2012.

How to teach your dog to pull?

Recently we received a request from a customer of ours asking to explain how to make his dog pull. Perhaps other people could jump in on this topic and share their methods. All I can say is MOTIVATION, motivation, motivation. Not all dogs are born to be natural pullers. You have to motivate the dog! Hook the dog to a bike, scooter or just to your waist and have a friend run in the front of you calling your dog. If the dog moves forward and pulls, praise the dog. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 😉

We offer a really nice book in our HDA store. The name is Skijor with Your Dog This book gives really good instruction on how to teach a dog to pull. Also, this is a good sled dog forum to ask questions at: