Dogs, snow, and outdoors adventure. What is it like to go dog sledding in Norway and other countries? Where to go for a husky tour to make sure you work with happy and loved dogs? Can you find dog sledding near Oslo? And… Is dog sledding ethical? Find out below!
Dog sledding in Norway
I am totally a dog person. Every time I see a dog I want to cuddle it. When I was a teenager, together with my friends we opened an Animals Rescue Club, where we were helping homeless cats and dogs. The local vet knew us well after we were bringing different animals to him every couple of weeks for checks and vaccinations. That’s where our pocket money was going into. Yes, animal welfare has always been important to me.
Animals and tourist activities
This also extends to any activities involving animals. The wildlife tours with any type of close animal interaction always make me very cautious, because I am aware of the bad sides of those industries. I haven’t seen elephants in Asia, I haven’t cuddled a koala.
I could only do it when I find a place, that is truly caring about the well-being of the animals and not trying to keep those wild beautiful creatures in captivity for business. When I admire wild animals, it’s just there – in the wild, like watching African Safari animals in Masai Mara Park in Kenya or looking for polar bears in Svalbard. The same goes for domestic animals, like dogs. They can get hurt too.
On our recent road trip in Norway in winter, I and my boyfriend tried traditional Scandinavian dog sledding in Norway. And I want to tell you more about it – so you can choose wisely for yourself and for the happiness of those dogs in the future.
Read more: What to pack for Norway in winter – Norway winter clothing
What is dog sledding?
Dog sledding is a practice involving a few dogs pulling together a sled to travel through the ice or snow. This way of transport was used for over a thousand years and has contributed to human culture since well before 1000 B.C. Initially, operated for transport and carrying goods, dog sleds were later used by explorers in the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. Now, it’s one of the popular outdoor activities offered to tourists visiting the Scandinavian countries.
Is dog sledding ethical?
To be totally honest with you, initially, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I was concerned about the well-being of the animals and wondered if dog sledding is cruel. Even though the concept sounds similar to horse-drawn sleigh rides, which I’ve tried before, I felt unsure about the dogs. It was simply because I wasn’t knowledgeable about the subject.
So I did my research. I found information from the organization Mush with P.R.I.D.E. very helpful. The abbreviation stands for “Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment“. They describe themselves as an organization that “supports the responsible care and humane treatment of all dogs and is dedicated to enhancing the care and treatment of sled dogs in their traditional and modern uses.”
Here is a little taster of our dog sledding in Norway:
Read more: 12 simple tips to become a more responsible traveler
Human & dog bond
I’ve learned that the relationship between humans and husky sled dogs is one of the oldest of this kind. This activity creates a special bond between a person and an animal. Everyone who has ever owned a dog understands what I mean. Those animals just become a part of your family. The modern sled dog owners are proud of their dogs and they care about them the best way they can, so the dogs can do what they love – run as part of a team. The Huskies love to please people and just frankly pull anything. It comes from the long history of the breed when their purpose was to live close to people and work with them in harsh Arctic climates.
It feels great to see how excited and happy those dogs are to be able to run!
Two sides to the coin
As in any business, which can bring in money, there will be people misusing it. That’s why it’s so important to properly check the company that you use for dog sledding and make sure that the dogs are well cared for. While most dogs are treated well, there are still, unfortunately, some documented cases of sled dog abuse.
During my research, I found some disturbing information about the misbehavior of the huge dog sledding companies, mainly in the USA. Hundreds of dogs are left to themselves after the season, chained in their kennels and not being properly looked after. This is, what no part of me is willing to support. That’s why I believe, that it’s crucial to always do the research and find the best company.
Read more: Norway winter travel – the best road trip itinerary
How to find a good dog sledding company?
There are a lot of places offering dog sledding in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada, and Alaska. Before going for the cheapest or a random one, do your research first. Check the company’s website, and the reviews describing the animals, look at the posted pictures, follow social media channels, and check how much information is out there. If you are still in doubt – ask more questions. You can find some more information on how to make sure you deal with reputable sled dog companies here.
Dog sledding near Oslo
We had a chance to try dog sledding for the first time in Geilo with Geilo Husky.
Geilo is a beautiful mountainous town and ski resort, located not too far from Oslo. I was happy to find the husky tours there, as you don’t have to travel to the far north to try dog sledding in Norway. The dogs, that we met on the spot were so beautiful, eager to run, jumping out of joy, and loving the cuddles. The mushers were also very knowledgeable and caring for the dogs. The company doesn’t have a huge number of dogs, which means, that they can take care of their dogs better. They also work with several private mushers, who have small teams of their own dogs, that they know and can work well with.
In fact, we happened to be in an unexpected situation that showed it very well.
Read more: The best things to do in Oslo in winter
Dog sledding in Norway
When you take part in dog sledding, there are two people in one sled. One person is sitting inside, and the other one acts as a musher, controlling the dogs and the sled.
During our trip, we needed to stop at some point to change the dogs’ harnesses. One of the girls holding the sled in front of ours, accidentally let the break come off and jumped off the sled, leaving it empty. It was enough for the dogs to start running. You can really see how much they love it as they use every opportunity to run more. However, as it turned out, this could have been dangerous for the dogs if they went too far by themselves. The main musher quickly jumped on the next sled which happened to be ours and rushed to catch the running dogs.
But… I was still inside the sled.
So there we were – speeding through the snow with one sled trying to catch another one pulled by the dogs running far away in the distance. Luckily, when we got closer to them, the dog leaders in the front heard their owner and stopped. Then, we needed to bring the sleds back to the group. I took control of the second group of dogs and we ran through the snow to join the rest. I really felt like we are on a big adventure! We safely got back and the dogs were all so proud of themselves 😉
Apart from Geilo, a popular dog sledding destination is also Tromso or Svalbard. There you can go for Half-Day exciting Husky safari with lunch, or even go for Northern Lights and Husky adventure with dinner. The tours are organized through the tour operator with local providers, but if you choose one, don’t forget to ask about the treatment of the dogs.
Find places to stay in Geilo:
Have a happy Husky tour!
I think it’s important to understand the whole picture of dog sledding before trying it yourself. I was like this before – concerned if dog sledding is ethical for animals.
Now I understand how much the Husky dogs love and need to run! It feels amazing to be a part of the special animal-human relationship and see those strong fluffy dogs in their favorite environment.
However, we all have to make sure that the Huskies are treated as living animals, well appreciated for being such great athletes and having proper rights, coming from their capacity to love and be intelligent partners to humans. If you have a chance, go dog sledding in Norway. When it’s done properly, it can benefit everyone, however, education, understanding, and research is the key.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Geilo Husky, but, as always, all the opinions are my own.
Read more about Norway:
Norway winter clothing – what to pack for Norway in winter
Best Norwegian gifts and souvenirs to bring back from your trip
13+ Best things to do in Svalbard
Svalbard snowmobile tour to the East Coast
Norway winter travel – the best road trip
Norway in a Nutshell in winter
The best things to do in Oslo in winter
What do you think about dog sledding? Would you try it or have you done it? Let me know in the comments!
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16 thoughts on “Dog Sledding in Norway – Ethical Husky Tours (also near Oslo)”
Wow this is something I knew nothing about. I’m glad to hear how much the dogs seem to love it.
I hope I made you more interested in it! 🙂
Loved your post, thank you. Travelling comes with a huge responsibility whether we’re camping, touring or visiting ‘sanctuaries’. I think to make choices about ethic tourist places is so important for animal welfare so thank you for sharing this important post. Kx
Thanks for your comment and appreciating the post!
Thank you for writing such a carefully considered post! Ethical travel is super important, and I definitely appreciate the advice on the different companies out there. It looks like an amazing experience though, and one I’d looove to try one day.
Thanks, Ellie! I hope you’ll be able to try it one day 🙂
This is FANTASTIC. I love that you addressed how to research ethical trips and addressed dome of the concerns people may have. The huskies are abslutely adorable as well. <3
Thanks so much!
I got a bit distracted by the super cute huskies. Really interesting read and it’s good to make us all think a little more about the things we do whilst travelling.
I haven’t been dog sledding, but it looks fun and I will consider points you’ve mentioned. Thanks!
It’s not too hard to get distracted by them, so I’m with you there 😉
Me my husband and daughter wants to dog sledging between 11 of march to the 16 of March in Norway.
It would be best if you can contact the dog sledding company directly (through their website: https://www.geilo-husky.com/), or you can book a dog sledding tour through the tour operator in Tromso here.
Hi Aga! I just found your blog and loved the article a lot! But I’m afraid to plan such tours on my own. I’m asking you as a travel expert if you recommend these guys?
Those little huskies are cuties!! My number one travel destination!
Hi Edgar, I just have experience with the company mentioned in the post and I can definitely recommend them. If you decide to go with someone else, make sure you do proper research beforehand. Enjoy your trip!
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