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Swing dogs (called point in some areas) can be any dog that will perform in this important position behind the leaders. The good ones really pay off in their ability to back up leaders and maintain strong impulsion without messing up. They should not fall back into the team, get seriously tangled, try to turn around, or drag the team the wrong way. Look for mature, responsive dogs with lots of drive to fill this slot. Ideally you can choose dogs that are focused, fast, nimble and experienced.

Swing Dogs perform at the Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau, AK in April 2014

3. Swing dogs need almost as much drive as the leaders. Swing is a good position for potential leaders, or for reliable leaders who can correct a young leader from behind.

What Do Swing Dogs and Team Dogs Do? - Team Ineka

Team Dog: All dogs other than the Lead Dogs, Point Dogs, Swing Dogs and Wheel Dogs. Swing dogs are the dogs right behind the leaders. Normally the dogs here are also fully trained lead dogs or leaders in training. It is their responsibility to 'swing' the team around corners! Having a strong 'Front Four' is a real plus in a race!

The Swing Dogs: "Highway 53" - YouTube

Team dogs make up the bulk of a dog team. Lead dogs, swing, and wheel dogs all get chances to take a break from the other positions and run in the team! One of the most valuable spots in the team is right in front of wheel. I generally use this for dogs that are sore or a little ill, as they are close enough to keep an eye on but not in the demanding wheel position. In the middle of the team hang out the big powerhouses in our group.

The Swing Dogs - Alaska Folk Festival 2015 - AFF 41 - YouTube


Backing up lead dogs like Sultana are the swing dogs—positioned right behind the leaders. They help to turn the team left or right. Wheel dogs may be last in line, but they help to steer the sled. The good ones know to go wide on turns to guide the sled around trees and other obstacles, says Thompson.Swing (or point) dogs: Positioned directly behind the lead dogs, the swing dogs help steer the team around corners. As lead dogs make a turn, it is not uncommon for the other dogs to want to jump off the trail to follow them. The swing dogs pull the team in an arc that keeps the other dogs on the trail and brings the sled and musher safely around a corner.
The dogs in between the swing and wheel positions are called team dogs; they provide the muscle. Their job is to keep pulling until it’s time to stop.A note from Arleigh about the words used for the positions of the dogs in the teams: “The terminology comes from horse drivers and mule skinners, thus the “wheel dogs” for example. For some reason I still do not understand, Alaskan drivers use the word swing dogs for those right behind the leaders, and lower 48 drivers use the word point dogs. Both are from the horse and mule driving terminology. I don’t know where these differences came from, but I have noticed that many drivers in Minnesota are beginning to use the Alaskan terminology.”