I just read your article on new sled dog regulations in B.C. I am in Quebec. The same process is going on here.
The Quebec government is working on new regulations so that sled dogs end up with a better quality of life. Mushers in Quebec find the tethering system is the best way to keep their dogs, like in B.C. and the Yukon.
I have been a musher for 20 years and I think that part of the problem is that when someone gets into the sport, he ends up in the yard of his mentor.
If the mentor keeps his dogs tethered, then this is the way the new musher learns. These guys have no idea how sled dogs can be kept in a different way. They just apply what they learn.
We own 45 dogs. All of them are kept in groups of three to six and none of them are tethered on a chain. Only benefits come from this system.
The dogs are quiet. They don’t bark like most dogs tethered on a chain. They are happier, they are healthier, they are socially better developed, they can run and they can maintain sort of a slow training approach all year in their large yard.
Dogs kept in a large yard divide their environment – one place to sleep, one place to eat, one place to play, one place to poop.
Most of the time they sleep together, two in the same doghouse. This is a way to save energy, but also a way to create cohesion between members.
On a chain, the dog has no chance to develop cohesion with a partner, and most importantly, he is forced to do every one of its activities in the same place – poop, eat, pee, drink and move.
Another type of system does exist and it is possible to keep dogs in a different way.
Mushers who keep their dogs on a chain don’t want to invest the time to have well-socialized animals. With a kennel, where the turnover of dogs is high, the time a musher would need to spend doing dog socialization is definitely not an option.
Dogs are way happier kept in a group and mushers who can’t see that just need education. In fact, these guys don’t really understand what a dog is.
That’s why I think the government needs to establish better regulations – since the mushers won’t change if they are not forced to.