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Dog Sledding

December 9th, 2008, 10:14 AM
It's official that Titus -loves- pulling and being a good husky. Seriously, he just loves it, he sees the harness and he -knows- he'll get to pull something. I've been reading a lot about it and asking some musher. But I'm curious to know how many people here (who owns huskies, malamutes or other appropriate breeds) actually does sledding, either competitions (which then I want to know everything you know :P) or simply for fun

I was so afraid Titus wouldn't be able to pull much at his age, but damn!!! he pulls me (on roller blades) without any problems, I actually have to restrain him so he doesn't hurt him self or pull a muscle or something.

I got him a puppy harness when he was just 3 months (had to change it twice hehe) When he's going to to be older I'll get his real one.

But yes, anyway I'm looking for any information I can get, it's something I'm actually willing to invest time and money on, me and my boyfriend are getting our house in a year and we both want to get more huskies (we might actually get another in a few months)

December 9th, 2008, 10:26 AM
I don't remember exactly how old Titus is, but I don't believe it is in his favour to have him pulling at his tender age.

There are a few members of this board that participate in sledding, OC Spirit and Gail P come to mind. Perhaps you would like to check this thread out that Gail P posted last week:

December 9th, 2008, 10:33 AM
5 months
he only started to pull a few weeks ago, but as I said, I really really restrain him, I just want him to learn that he can actually be in front, stay in line and listen to voices in the back

Only thing he pulled was a small (5 pounds) weight so he gets the feeling of having something in the back.

I'm not planing to really start until he's a year and a half

December 9th, 2008, 10:56 AM
Are you sure you ahve the time for this and more huskies?

If you recall a few days back you talked about how you didnt have alot of time for walking him because you worked full time. Therefore you run errands with him while also risking him being stolen.. Maybe you should rethink?

You :we bring titus to groceries and tie him outside, but never more than 10-15 minutes (if we're not done we go and check on him a bit)
he just lay downs and chill o.0 never had any problem (note hes always in the shade, in a relax corner)

we go eat in restorant sometime, one in particular, we tie him on our chair, the big garage door window opens, he loves it, gets tones of attention too ^^

Me: You do realize you wont agree with it much when he gets stolen, Titus is still unaltered no? he'd be perfect for somebody to steal and breed.hmm Beautiful huskie tied on with no one around, Even if you do keep an eye on him, People can work FAST, Even if you keep and eye on him at all times through a window, people can still get away with him. Its just not the responsible thing to do in my opinion.

You: Yea, but we both work fulltime and he needs to walk as well, somewhere we have to eat and buy food, we dont have a car :S
as for the restorant, its only when the garage door is open heh

December 9th, 2008, 11:05 AM
he pulls me (on roller blades) without any problems, I actually have to restrain him so he doesn't hurt him self or pull a muscle or something.

Only thing he pulled was a small (5 pounds) weight so he gets the feeling of having something in the back.

Seriously ashtoreth, I think Titus is too young, of course I could be wrong. IMO it would be beneficial to both yourself and Titus that you learn from veterans of the sport when the appropriate time might be.

December 9th, 2008, 11:08 AM
IMO- 5 months is waaay to young. Its like a dog starting agility, its best wait until hes at least a year old for him to be fully devloped and strong.

December 9th, 2008, 11:23 AM
Its like a dog starting agility, its best wait until hes at least a year old for him to be fully devloped and strong.

Actually, many people start puppies in agility. The difference is they do foundation and handling exercises, and don't put stress on young dogs. But teaching a young pup how to pull could be as detrimental as teaching a young pup to jump full height. I don't think I'd be doing more than harness work with no weight with a puppy.

December 9th, 2008, 11:28 AM
I think you guys imagine way worse than it is

As for the other huskies, I happen to have a job, yes, but Titus is loved, well cared for and a happy dog. If I'm starting to think to get another dog, its something i'm planing and giving it all thoughts

Gail P
December 9th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Pulling and agility can't really be compared, they are two different sports and use the muscles and joints differently. No sport should be started at too young an age, however the "appropriate" age can vary between sports. The impact from landing jumps is different than the strain from pulling, however pulling can be easier in a lot of ways than other sports. Even horses can begin driving before they are ready to be ridden as their joints are ready to pull weight behind them before being ready to bear the weight on their back. In some sports (agility, disc, flyball), there can be the strain of jumping (landing), twisting & turning at speed, whereas with mushing the dogs travel in a straight line and in some ways create less stress on the joints.

There is a lot of discrepancy as to what age to start pups, even between mushers but 5 months in my opinion is too young to be doing any real pulling. Just as in agility, you can do foundation work that will help him later but you don't want to overdo the pulling now. Waiting a few more months now could give you many extra years of mushing pleasure with him. Better to wait a bit than end up with an arthritic dog that isn't able to pull past middle age. At 5-6 months some mushers will fit the pup to harness and maybe ask them to pull a drag mat. It's light but drags behind them on the ground and this is the time you can easily teach "whoa!" because you can step on the mat to halt the pup. Dogs that inherently want to pull are not always real willing to stop. This is an important command that you can spend your time on now. Also, you can teach him his other commands (gee, haw, on by etc.) When he's pulling his mat, encourage him to "line out" ahead of you and then after he's going straight turn to the left or right and call him "Titus, HAW!" (for left) or gee for right. And praise him like crazy when he turns the right way. If he doesn't, ask him to whoa and then pull him over the way you want him to turn and repeat the command. They say it's easiest for one dog to learn from another, but I had to make my own lead dog (Lightning) and he had no trouble learning all his commands in this way. It does help when you're working on snow to have a path to follow and other pathways that branch off to practice your turns. A groomed trail is much easier for the dogs to run on so they stick to that instead of the deep soft snow and when approaching a Y or a T they've got 50% chance of making the right choice. As I would approach a turn I'd say the command, then if he even looked the correct way I'd say "yes! haw!" (or gee, whichever way we were going) and tell him he was a good boy when he took the turn. If he didn't begin to look that way or lean into the turn I'd say it again, a bit louder and if he still was going to miss it I'd tell him to whoa, then go up beside him and pull him into the turn and repeat the command. He picked it up pretty quickly and I didn't need to run up alongside him very much. As he got better I could even just hop off the sled for a second (on the side I wanted him to turn towards), clap my hands to get his attention and get him turning that way and then continue. Next he progressed to me being able to just point my arm in the direction of the turn. If he ever makes a mistake now (rarely), I can call his name, tell him to look and he looks back at me and I point and repeat my command.

Other mushers never bother starting a pup until they're a bit older and then they just hook them up with an older, slower dog, or in a small team of slower dogs. By that I mean not their top racing dogs that would run the pup off his feet. You want to keep it short and fun until his body is more mature.

I've started all mine around 8-10 months, very lightly. A short run of about 1/2 mile, lots of praise and treats and not too often, and making it fun but not too much work (which could cause injuries and become discouraging to a young dog). Each time we go it's a little bit further. My pup Flurry turned 1 year old Nov. 19 and he's only doing about 1 3/4 miles so far. By mid-February he'll be worked up to 2 miles or a bit more and my daughter will be racing him in a youth 2-dog class with Lightning. That's just 2 miles pulling a light sprint sled and a child. My 4-dog team ranges in age from just shy of 2 years through to 4 years and they will be racing in the 4 mile classes with me. By later in the winter (March, after race season is done and by which time Flurry will be 16 months) just for fun I will add on another section of gangline and run a 5-dog team on some of the lakes around me. That will be flat and easy pulling and how far we go will depend on how Flurry's doing.

Sledding, skijoring, bikejoring, scootering etc. could be a great way for you to put Titus's natural instincts to use and give him his exercise. Working dogs love to do the jobs they were bred for. Just be careful not to do too much too soon.

December 9th, 2008, 02:49 PM
Gail: thanks !!!! that's awesome, I couldn't have asked for anything better ^^

As I said , the only reason why I got his harness, is for him to get used to it, he just always go in front of us when we walk/bike it's crazy heh.

but thanks 1000 time :)

December 9th, 2008, 04:08 PM
Gail, that was very interesting and very well explained too!:)

Gail P
December 9th, 2008, 08:36 PM
I'm always happy to talk dogs and mushing :D

Oh, another thing you can work on with him is "on by". That means to stay out in front and pass by any distractions, ie: people, other dogs, interesting smells, side roads/trails etc. If you're "working" him (and I use that word loosely, due to his young age), you don't want him stopping to visit with people or other dogs, he needs to learn to ignore them. That's one I had to do some work on myself last year when we were passing other teams. Lightning lost confidence in approaching strange dogs on the trail after being nipped and snapped at a couple of times so he wouldn't overtake another team and if there was one approaching head-on he'd hesitate and drop back until he was sometimes tangling his lines with the dogs behind him. I got some mushing friends with friendly dogs to come over and we practiced lots of passing but at first I had to jump off the sled, run up alongside him or in front and call him to follow me and I'd just keep running until we were past the other team. He regained his confidence and was doing quite well after a few times doing that. Last weekend when I was practicing with a friend again (first time since last season) he was awesome! :thumbs up

December 9th, 2008, 11:15 PM
i would also avoid having him pull at this tender age but i think it would be great to train the commands with the harness on and he can be infront when the harness is on (make it harness= work) and to walk beside or behind when on leash. I would make sure that you master both of these so you dont end up with a dog that pulls too much. They do this with guide dogs as well when they put on the harness they are in work mode and when its off they are in a more free mode