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Physics of Mushing


Force equals mass times acceleration. Thus, the amount of force of a dog sled team depends on the mass of the musher, the dogs, and the sled, and the acceleration of the entire unit. A team of ten dogs of equal mass traveling at twenty miles an hour will have more force than a team of ten dogs of equal mass traveling at five miles an hour. A musher who is sledding for fun may not want to have as great a force as a musher entered in a dog sled race. A musher in a race is focused on winning. Thus, she will use more dogs because with the added masses, she will have more force to overcome obstacles, such as snowy passes and hills.

Another force that comes into play when racing sled dogs is frictional force. When entering dog sled races, a musher must consider the friction between the sled and the snow and ice. A musher looks for a dog with tough pads that can handle the ice and snow. The frictional force can be found by multiplying the normal force by the coefficient of friction.