Before the dogs are able to deliver race performance,, they must be trained. It is necessary to train heavy with a lot of resistance. The prestigious races take place in and around the Alps. This landscape is very mountainous and the dogs must be capable to not only pull themselves upwards, but also the sled and the musher and this in full gallop. In Belgium there is little of the Alpine landscape so we must compensate for this. I do this by making a four to six dogteam ans let them pull a quad. Hereby I teach them to continue working with the heavy resistance and they are mentally hardened. But don’t mistake this, the most important thing in the dogsledding sport is positivism! Without this you can’t run dogs! They need to love the job!! The more enthusiastic and the more positive the musher is, the more the dogs will work for him. A musher does not work with reins, let alone with a whip. So dogs are only vocal accompanied. There dogs are emotional animals, it is necessary that all commands are given in a positive way!
A mushers who asks too much too early (during dryland races) of their dogs, are getting a lot of problems during the snow season. It is important to be a good coach for the dogs and to follow your own gut and training schedule. Mushers, such as myself, who like to perform on the snow, must exercise patience and see dryland races as a training for the team.
"The dogs must run for the musher's ego." An image that some people have about the dogsled sport. But people who do this sport for their own interest, often burn their dogs very soon and will never reach a podium place at the big races. The first and most important thing is that ' the dog feels good with himself and the job!. Also I work, as nowadays most dogs schools, with the method: positive conditioning. During the training months, the distance and the speed gradually built up. I never ask more from the animal, than it can give. Young dogs run for example of itself. If you don’t hold them back once in a while, you burn them up! But to race at a top level, you need to ask 100% from every dog! The difference lies in a small corner: TRUST! As their coach, I attend every dog and learn them to think for themselves and to trust me that I will not burn them, but improve them! When I started with dogsledding an important musher told me: "Knowledge and common sense ... That’s where you begin!!"