When the formation of the team, the musher must considerate the relationships between each. Not simple. Lot of experience and patience are needed.
Positions in the team
Leader : the leader has two roles. First, he must know and recognize all the orders given by the musher - left (Haw), right (Gee), front, slow, stop, slope, etc. and must apply them instantly. Then it sets the pace in the team. It must have a desire to unalterable go further.
In the longest race, the mushers have several dogs that they can put in mind, for not psychologically exhausting his best dogs.
Similarly, some dogs love hard and fast tracks and others prefer the powder. In a good team, there must be several characters and talents that allow facing all types of conditions with confidence.
Swing dogs: Placed just behind the leaders, they assist them in the direction of the team and the rhythm. These are often young dogs during training, destined to be placed in front of the team in the future.
Team dogs: It is the crew base. Dogs that have the physical requirements to join the team but who lack something to be placed at the top. Some dogs can evolve very quickly in the lead, others after 4 or 5 years.
Wheel dogs: Placed in front of the sled, these two dogs have an important role to play. Powerful, they are the ones who tear the sled at the start. They also assist the musher’ driving, for example in the turns to avoid obstacles. Like the leaders, they must show a desire to run.
Attention confusion: we often confuse pack leader and lead dog, but the roles are completely diferents.
A pack of dogs following an organization identical to wolves. There are the pack leader, the alpha wolf, the beta wolf, etc. For dogs, the strongest dog and most respected is the pack leader. It is the chief of the others dogs and leads the team. This dog has a very strong character. The pack leader is essential for the balance of the pack. It's still a hierarchy in which the musher is not involved.
The lead dog maintains a strong relationship with his master and is totally submissive to him. It is often a dog lower in the hierarchy that will fill this role perfectly. More submissive and more obedient, it will apply easily orders of the musher.
If it happens that the lead dog is the pack leader, observations have confirmed that it’s an exception.