I am happy to see my partner Chaim start scootering with our two dogs. It occurred to me that as he is starting I will be giving him, let’s not call them lessons, let’s call them hints and tips. Since some of you out there might be just starting yourself, or at least thinking about starting, I have decided to post them here on the blog. So, as I think of things I want to tell Chaim, I will post them here (and make him read it). 😉 Hope everybody else will find my hints helpful!
10 Replies to “Scootering, anyone?”
Ok, first advice! Always wear a helmet! Safety first!
Second advice: Remember, just because you have sled dogs, they are NOT top athletes just yet. They need to be trained property to become one. Do not expect them to run far on your first or second training run. Start at a distance of 1.5 – 2 miles. After ten runs increase the distance to 3 – 4 miles. Follow this regiment and your dogs will perform for you without getting tired after a month or so.
Second piece of advice: Remember, just because you have sled dogs, they are NOT top
athletes just yet. They need to be trained property to become one. Do not
expect them to run far on your first or second training run. Start at a distance
of 1.5 – 2 miles. After ten runs increase the distance to 3 – 4 miles. Follow
this regiment and your dogs will perform for you without getting tired after a
month or so.
More advice… run dogs on trails, it just makes more sense for them to follow a trail. It is safer than a road or sidewalk, and is easier on the dogs feet, joints and pads to run on dirt or grass.
And another one: Never feed your dogs prior to running. Imagine how you would
feel exercising with a full stomach. And after your training run, wait until
the dogs cool down (stop panting) to feed. The dog’s stomach is full of air and
feeding too soon can result in a bloat (or even stomach torsion).
Don’t talk too much while running your dogs. Too much talking will distract them from the “real” commands. This is all you need to know (and say):
Good dogs (good boy, good girl)
Yes, don’t forget to praise your dogs once in a while if they are going a good job!
And there is one more command to add, “On By”. I used it today. As we turned a corner, I saw a cat laying at the edge of the road. I knew I would have to keep the dogs away. “On By” is the command used to get them to go on by something. Well, it turns out the cat was eating a freshly killed squirrel. When the cat jumped up, it ran across the street; running across the dogs’ path. It dragged the squirrel to the center of the road. Now I had two things to avoid them stopping for. Yelling “On By” they were doing pretty well when the cat scurried up a tree; scaring a live squirrel to jump down on the road only a foot or two in front of Dasher. Now we were chasing a squirrel. I had to yell “Leave It! Leave It! Leave It!” to get them to ignore the squirrel which, luckily made a quick 90 degree turn to the right and into the brush.
All in all the dogs did pretty well. Not a precision highly disciplined team, but they didn’t drag me crashing into the roadside brush.
The hill on the way back also served to completely exhaust the dogs providing for a nice nap this afternoon.
Training frequency: If you have a pet dog full of energy, you can take the dog on an easy run every day. But if you are serious about racing, this is the best training schedule:
Don’t run your dogs two days in a row – even later on in the season once your dogs are conditioned (unless you are a professional musher getting ready for a big race such as the Open North American or the Fur Rondy. Running the dogs too much will make them “sour”, possibly even sore. It won’t be fun for them anymore. And it should be all about fun and excitement for the dogs!
Most mushers advice 2 days training, two days off! Profeccional do this, and say that your scheme is for an amature… Just for fun! What is your experiece based on?
My experience is based on 20 years of professional sprint racing and running one of the best teams in the world. 😉