Building a Sled Dog

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a good working dog. It helps if you start with a dog from a working line whatever that line happens to be. In sled dogs I’ve been told that performance can be bred out in as little as three generations. I think that’s true, and doesn’t mean that they lose the instincts. They lose the physicality of the work. Pups from a continuous line of workers seem to literally hit the ground running.

That’s not to say you can’t start from a non-current working line and build. But it will take longer and the results will not be as good. I spent a year with my boy Cooper teaching him commands on foot walks. I think we walked 500 miles. To this day he is perfect on his commands. But, he is not fast or driven enough to be competitive. That doesn’t matter to those who mush for fun. The jump to being competitive is huge. I’ve also found it’s much easier to train a new pup by using an experienced one. Dogs will learn from each other much faster than they will from humans. Especially if you start from 8-weeks; that’s the time when what they learn will last a lifetime. Much like it’s easier for us to learn a language as a child than an adult.

Currently Ivan has 15 runs on the trike for a total of 21 miles. All of these were no longer than 1.5 miles each. This run I upped the distance to 2.25 miles and slowed the pace down. We also stopped to talk to some folks which is good socialization for him. He was a tad shy when I got him but that has all but disappeared as he matures and is subjected to more things. Maturity takes more than physical growth. It take growth of their minds as well. Meeting new and strange things; so the next time they happen its not a shock and taken without undue problems.

Enjoy this video of our latest run. You’ll see how fluid the pup is. He was built for speed and can run my 6-year-old to the ground. Cooper is of the standard Siberian lines. His body is built more for strength than speed. Ivan happens to have both of those traits. But, he comes from our racing line and that is the proof of what I’m saying. Performance is also hereditary as far as I’m concerned. I’m no scientist but I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Not just our dogs but many other working/racing lines of huskies have the same characteristics. They are both purebreds, but there is more to dogs than just pedigrees.

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