Why you should ride a dog sled this winter, according to a local musher

For one thing, the winter view won't disappoint.

Muddy Paw Dog Sledding
A visitor goes for a ride at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel. –Sarah Miller

From skiing to tubing to ice skating, there are plenty of ways to enjoy New England during the winter months.

But have you tried dog sledding?

“A lot of people we get, dog sledding is something that’s been on their bucket list their entire lives,” said Wesley Guerin, a musher at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson, N.H. “People are like, ‘I’ve wanted to do this since I was a small child.'”

Guerin offers the following reasons why you should go dog sledding this season.

You’ll love the view

Guerin said visitors are often blown away by Muddy Paw’s gorgeous mountain views before they even get on a sled.

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“You come around and see 80-some-odd dogs, and you’ve got the beautiful Presidential Range behind,” he said. “We call that turn as you walk in Oh My God Corner.”

On the tours, guests travel by dog sled between five and 13 miles, and some trails go almost 1,000 feet in elevation.

“You get some fantastic views of the Presidential Range, which we’re very fortunate to be able to see every day we’re out here,” Guerin said.

You can learn a new skill

Typically, eight to 12 dogs are hooked up to each sled, Guerin explained. The passengers sit in the sled, and the musher stands in the back and drives.

“The sleds work similar to a set of skis,” Guerin said. “You’re going to stand on your runners, and you’ve got your handle bars. It’s all about weight distribution. You lean left and right and are able to carve through the snow.”

Guerin said guests also have the opportunity to get right up with the musher and help steer during the trip and learn how to say dog sledding commands, such as “Hike!” (go), “Woah!” (stop), “Gee!” (turn right), and “Haw!” (turn left).

“If you are excited and upbeat, they’re going to respond to that, whereas if you’re more calm and collected, they’re more calm and laidback,” Guerin said.

You can socialize with dogs

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Guerin said his company’s 83 Alaskan huskies are social, friendly, and love meeting with the visitors. In fact, interaction with the dogs — which range in age from 2 to 11 — is worked into each tour.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Do the dogs like doing this?'” Guerin said. “I say, ‘They love doing it because they are absolutely elated every time they go out.’ Their body language and facial expressions say it all.”

Dog sledding is easy to find

Plenty of New England states offer dog sledding tours. Other spots across the region where you can hop on a dog sled include Hilltown Sleddogs in West Chesterfield, Maine Dogsledding Adventures in Millinocket, Maine, and Eden Dog Sledding in Eden Mills, Vt.

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