Here’s a nice column by Judith Tarr at tor.com: Understanding Horses: Trust Between Human and Animal
This post is not about horses. It’s about sled dogs.
I have a friend who has Alaskan Malamutes. One of her dogs can pull almost 2000 lbs — I think his personal record is 1800 something. That is nowhere near the real record for a Malamute, either.
That’s not really relevant here, though, as the article is about the willingness of the dogs to take direction from the person, most of the time, with no real way for the person to control the dogs by force. This is with modern methods of handling sled dogs, and while on that subject, kudos to Sarah Butcher, who revolutionized the way sled dogs are trained and handled by being (a) gentle, and (b) very, very successful at racing.
I will just add that I personally train my dogs to heel entirely off leash, so that it is impossible to hold them in place or correct them physically for getting out of position. This is to make darn sure that the dogs actually learn where heel position actually is and how to stay in heel position no matter what weird thing I might do, and also to make sure that I never correct a dog physically, because jerking on the lead is super unhelpful with Cavaliers. They are mostly very “soft” dogs, best trained with a minimum of corrections and zero physical corrections.
I once literally arrived at a dog show with a dog that had never once been on lead for heeling practice, ever. I realized this only after arriving at the show, so I very quickly introduced the dog to the idea that heeling could be done with a leash, that the leash was something to ignore and pay no attention to, that there was not the slightest reason to notice the leash. We went on to do just fine in the ring, though I don’t recall if we placed in the top four.
I always prefer to show in Advanced or Excellent, which are done off-leash. That prevents me from having to worry about switching the leash from hand to hand, and it makes no difference to my dogs.