The Sounds of Sled Dogs

You would be astounded by the noise 90 dogs can make.

Barking before takeoff
Ready to roll!

The dogs get pretty excited (to say the least) when our guests reach the dog yard. At Petter Karlsson Sleddogs we house  our dogs in kennels surround a central courtyard with a play area in the middle in which we set up our sleds. When it becomes clear someone’s going to get the chance to run then out of the feeding holes pop their heads, eager eyes staring at the sleds, mouths open in a clamour of barks: “choose me!” “choose me!” “I want to come!” they shout as our guests learn to drive the sled, harness the dogs, put up their teams.

You would be astounded by the silence of a running dog team.

no barks while the dogs run
Silent running

Satisfied, sated, heads down they run with purpose. The leader dogs keep the team focused as our novice mushers learn the ropes, their sleds gliding atop the snow, teams winding up through forests toward adventure.

Every day of the tour the dogs repeat the same cycle. As the teams get closer to readiness at lunchtime and in the morning the dogs start to get excited. They are ever ready for a day running through Vindelfjallen Nature Reserve. But they’re smart – they don’t waste too much energy. The dogs don’t get too fired up until they see certain cues that tell them it will soon be time to run. The finishing touches on the guides team (usually left till last), the guide putting on their parka (it would be far too hot to wear before we leave) are the invitation the dogs are looking for to let loose a rousing chorus, as if with their voices they can move things along and hit the trail as soon as possible.

Then silence comes again.

no barks when they're resting
Chillin’ between runs

Yet our guests often remark with surprise how calm the dogs are for the rest of the time. “Are they tired”? They wonder. A funny idea to anyone who works closely with Alaskan Huskies. From a 30 km day? Not likely! First, we breed dogs for performance and temperament. Our dogs have a calm disposition (most of the time) and don’t spend their valuable rest time fussing. Add to this long distance experience and you have a group of dogs who understand rest is precious. If you’re not running or eating then sleeping is probably best…unless there’s a cuddle to be had, of course.

A Haunting Melody.

Back in the dog yard, the noise stops dead the moment our team pulls the last hook from the snow, freeing the last team to run. Then you can almost count down 3…2…1… hooooowl as the remaining dogs mark the splitting of the pack. The dogs mark various events in this way. The end of a meal, the approach of other dogs teams toward a lunch spot, and sometimes (often) just for the sheer exhilaration and pleasure of it! Howling draws the dogs together as a pack while allowing them to be sure they’ve got no intruders to worry about.

Whether they’re barking, howling or gliding through the snow in hypnotic silence, experiencing the sound of sled dogs is always a unique pleasure.

Finally, to experience the barks and howls for yourself, join us on a tour! To learn more about our tours and book your own adventure check out the ‘tours’ section of our website.


With thanks to our guests for their beautiful photographs.