Dog sledding in Ontario
Ontario is home to several reputable dog sledding outfitters who offer a variety of different tours, from short rides to night-time or multi-day excursions.
What is dog sledding?
Dog sledding is a winter game changer; you’ll gain a new appreciation for the season, the sport and the scenery (while the dogs will simply melt your heart).
Teams of two to 12 dogs are harnessed side-by-side with reinforced rope known as a gangline. Hardy dog sledding breeds include Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies and Malamutes. This gangline is attached to a traditional wooden sled or modern toboggan-style sled, which typically seats a passenger with the driver standing in the back. Most tours will set out with several sleds, with a guide leading the way.
Dog sledding is a team effort, with the driver often stepping off the sled to push. Each dog has a unique role in keeping the sled on course, from the lead dog at the front taking commands from the driver to the strong “wheel dogs” at the back providing the power to ensure the sled stays on track. The sled driver, commonly known as the musher, has the ability to steer and brake the sled, and to start, stop and turn the team using voice commands. Communication and teamwork between the driver and the dogs are some of the most rewarding aspects of the sport.
What you need to know before going dog sledding
You don’t need to be experienced to try dog sledding in Ontario. Prior to your tour, your guide will give an orientation, introduce you to the dog sled team and outline the basics of operating the sled and the signals you may hear or use.
At the start of a tour, the adrenaline is palpable. The dogs are straining and barking, excited and eager to get going, so you’ll need to remain focused on the guiding instructions to hold pace and keep the team safe. Once on the trail, they are in their element. You’ll be equally awe-struck by the raw power and exuberance of the dogs as you will by the rush of the ride and the beauty of the winter landscape.
Your guide will outline all the key things to ensure the ride is safe and fun, for both you and the dogs. Most importantly, stay focused and calm around the dogs so as not to confuse or distract them, and keep your hands and feet in the sled at all times.
What to wear dog sledding
Dog sledding outfitters will provide the required equipment, so all you need to do is dress warmly for the winter weather with several layers. You’ll need a winter coat, winter boots, thermal base layers, sweater, wool socks, warm mitts, hat and scarf. Snow pants are essential, however some outfitters may provide these. Also, consider sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the glare of the sun off the snow. You may also want to bring a warm blanket as an added layer to stay cozy and comfortable while sitting in on sled.
Ontario’s best dog sledding tours
Ontario’s dog sledding operators offer a variety of tours from two-hour, half-day and full-day treks to night-time or multi-day sledding adventures. All trips are fully outfitted and guided. Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Delivering adventure out of Vermilion Bay, an hour east of Kenora in Northwest Ontario. Reserve a day trip, an overnight excursion, or even a fully customizable three- to ten-day dog sledding experience. Watch Pull: A Film by Goh Iromoto featuring Borealis Dogsled Adventures.
Location: Vermilion Bay
Meet the beloved team of Siberian Huskies at Winterdance and experience the magic of Haliburton’s breathtaking wilderness on a two-hour, half-day, moonlit or multi-day dog sledding adventure.
Location: Haliburton Highlands
Two- to nine-day dog sledding expeditions in Algonquin Park, Temagami, , Chitichiinnu (the land of the Cree) and the Yukon-Tombstone mountain range. Trips are arranged and led by experienced and professional guides and instructors, along with lovable Alaskan huskies. All are fully outfitted, including heated prospector tents and wholesome meals.
A great option for beginners, North Ridge offers unforgettable, family friendly one-hour and half-day tours through beautiful Muskoka forests.
Explore Sugardogs’ private trail system in the highland forests on the western border of Algonquin Park on a customized dog sledding trip or book their most popular half-day tour. Then warm up in their wall tent (a type of large tent with four walls) with hot cocoa by the woodstove.
Showcasing the best of the Algonquin winter wonderland, book a multi-day winter sampler of dog sledding, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, and stay in a cozy off-grid cabin. All equipment, hearty meals and guided excursions included.
Location: Northwest Algonquin
Choose from single-day sled trips or three-day adventures that include dog sledding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as warm, comfy accommodations at a wilderness eco-lodge in Algonquin Park.
Check out more snow activities to experience in Ontario during the winter season.
Last updated: November 10, 2022