FROM PUPPIES TO TWO YEAR OLD’S
Now the big job begins!
The puppies are eating on their own and growing rapidly both physically and mentally.
I usually feed my puppies twice a day, once in the morning and then in the late afternoon.
I want my puppies to be good (ravenous) eaters and good drinkers. This is the way I prepare them especially for the Winter months.
I feed my dogs a wet mixture of meat (beef), 10% dry food and lots of water. I usually prepare my food 4 hours before feeding to let the meat/dry mixture to adsorb most of the water making a pasty mixture.
Because this mixture has so much water, it would quickly freeze in the colder temperatures of the Winter. It is imperative that dogs eat quickly!
I start the puppies off with the same type of mixture. To ensure they eat quickly, I only offer enough feed to ensure that it is quickly devoured. For example, if I have seven puppies, I only offer enough feed for six. The more aggressive puppies will get more food than the more passive ones. On the next feeding the less passive ones are diving into the food to make sure they get their share.
Of coarse, I monitor this to make sure that no puppy loses out.
The food is offered in one pan, smaller to begin with to a much larger pan as they get bigger.
If there is a bully taking all the food, I place two pans of food into the whelping box. The bully will be busy chasing the other puppies away from one bowl to the other bowl. All the time the other puppies are quickly munching down the food from both bowls.
The bully goes without or with very little.
The next feeding, all are intent on eating and not bullying.
The food has now been increased to what I feel the puppies will eat to fill them.
I monitor the feeding and when the puppies are basically satisfied, I remove the pan if there is still food left.
I never leave food in the pen after feeding.
The puppies then learn there is a time line on when the food will be available, ensuring they eat in a hurry.
When, I go out to feed, I will call out “puppies, puppies” letting them know now is feed time.
I make this exercise fun and they come rushing to the door of the pen enthusiastically.
I use the same procedure teaching them to drink. I always bait the water with a little food.
In the pen portion of the run, I always keep a bucket of fresh water if they get thirsty through the day.
As the puppies get bigger, I slowly introduce them life and exportation out side the whelping box/pen.
At first they find this strange and then one, usually the most adventurous one will get things going and then they will all follow suit.
This can also be away of finding which ones could be future leaders.
I like to start them, when wearing collars, to be attached to the truck on drop chains. This gets them used to the collars, chain and ready for their eventual introduction to kennel life and future travelling to the races.
All the time the puppies are introduced to new things, they are closely supervised and played with to make each new experience is fun.
Normally, the puppies are placed in the kennel when they are four to five months old.
I usually place them close to their siblings and also close to adults that will like to interact with them.
I have found that they quickly adapt to life in the kennel.
I always take time daily to interact with my dogs after feeding usually when I am cleaning the kennel.
Once the young puppies are vaccinated, I encourage visitors to interact with them, thus preventing shyness.
Some dogs may look shy when visiting the kennel. However, these are dogs that are a little more reserved until they determine if the visitor is to be trusted. Some of theses dogs have made my best leaders!
Trust is very important with all dogs and particularly the puppies.
Never ask a dog to do more than it is capable of!!!!
Harnessing the puppies for the first time is very exciting.
Depending on when they were born, (I usually like early Summer births) they get to see the adults going out on training runs. As the adults get excited to run, the puppies pick up on the excitement.
On the puppies first run, I like to start with small teams.
This last litter was six puppies, so I started them off with two experience leaders and followed by two puppies. The first run is done very slowly with me ridding the drag mat on the sled. All I want from them is to have fun and most importantly to learn right from the start to PULL!
I will stop frequently to pet them and praise them on their performance.
It is quit normal for them to jump back and forth over the line and try to play with their partner.
But, if you have good leaders, when you give the command to go, they quickly learn to work in the team.
The first runs are very short as you don't want to tire them out and you want them to be enthusiastic to go further.
I always treat my dogs with a dog biscuit after a run as a reward. This too the puppies get, while still in the line hooked up, teaching them that there is always a reward after their run.
After the treat and before I unharness them, I will go around and pet all the dogs in the team showing my appreciation.
I like to start my harness training of the puppies in the Spring when they are around 7 moths old.
As they get more comfortable with what they are doing, I will increase the distance and eventually the speed. The speed is never as fast as they could go! The emphasis here is still on pulling and making everything a fun experience.
I like to get in at least 6 runs before the end of the season.
The puppies. Like the adults are now off team running to the Fall.
The Yearling year is a very important one for the young dogs.
They will now be introduced to running with the adults.
I always start my Fall training running the dogs slowly and building up speed through the season when they are capable enough to handle it.
I set the pace by regulating the speed by training with an ATV or a Snow-machine with a speedometer.
The yearling usually are mixed with the A & B teams to start and then when the A Team that is being developed for my racing team, the Yearling will run more with the B Team.
This is a very important year that they all learn good habits and have fun running.
Rarely will I race a Yearling in their first year!
I like to develop my dogs slowly!
Buy the way, the yearlings are all placed on the truck before they are harnessed and go on the training runs. They go strait from the truck to their position in the team.
This way they are experiencing everything they will do at a race.
Through the season, I like to take the Yearlings to a race so they can experience the excitement, commotion and strangers coming by to see the dogs.
The second year with the young dogs will determine which dogs are capable of competing for a position on my racing team.
Only after two full seasons of running/racing will I know how successful the breeding was.
Sometimes a dog could take a little longer mentally to mature.
If you have taken the time to read the whole article, you will realize what work goes into the breeding, raising, feeding and training to produce top canine athletes.
Now add up all the costs involved over the two plus years and looking at paying yourself a minimum wage, it should give you some idea why these dogs demand the price they do.
A small kennel/breeder like myself, who doesn't breed to sell, will be lucky to cover expenses.
It has taken me 7 years to produce the type of team/kennel that is competitive.
I have been very fortunate to have some good mushing friends that gave me a start in the Sprint Mushing World with some good bloodlines to start my kennel, to help grow my kennel and mentor me along the way. My thanks goes out to Rosaire Perron, Sam & Eric Laforce and the most influential mushers/breeders/racers in my career Valerie and Laurent Gonsolin.
These are good people that are honest and willing to help.
Many of the dogs that are main stays in my kennel today came from these mushers.
Not all musher/races with a big name are as honest as the above.
Before you make any decisions on buying from or breeding with, ask around the mushing community with regards to do business with the musher.
The mushing community is a small one and everybody pretty well knows everyone.
Good luck on now starting your own kennel.
Now you should know, “Why Are Performance Racing Sled Dogs Are so Expensive”!
OR ARE THEY!!!