I have had the opportunity to spend a few days in solitude with the dogs, my PC, tons of work and sled dog rides at my tiny backcountry cabin.
My dogs pull – of yes, they pull. Sometimes harder than I wish for, for example when I stop and there is no firm surface for the hook. I have two males that are always on the go: good speed, but one has to be in the back of the team as he is not yet a fully experienced command taker nor passer-by. He is young and a bit timid. The boys and one girl are fast, stubborn, independent and take a lot of initiative. Head-strong. Good when it is needed, bad when they want something else than you.
I have been a bit inconsistent on two matters: one being running on the right side of a road: near our house there are ski trails on the right side, and I have asked my dogs to be on the left on those trails. We oiften run there. This has unfortunately translated to leftsidedness other places too. I work hard to hold them along the right side, but two of them will not learn. I guess sometimes I am just “let go” on it, and they learn that I am inconsistent. Alas!
The other issue I have to work on, is turnaround. Again, at home, we have out and in along the same route, and not very broad places to turn around on. So I have taught them to do 180 degree turns. It works in controlled situations with not too big teams. They know it means going home again. But unfortunately they also want to use this strategy when I want them to do a larger loop in open landscapes. Especislly if we run two teams. The second one, once they see the first one heading 180 degrees back, they make a short hairpin turn by themselves. This has lead to a bit of trouble- since I currently alos have threee ladies in heat, and they don’t ignore males head on—–or let’s say: I dont like it. The males are a bit uptight about the ladies, and tend to not tolerate too close body contact…… :-)
I don’t blame the dogs. They are being run by four different mushers, and they are independent personalities with a lot of experience and stamina, some tensions around heat, but in general problem solving dogs with a lot of determination to head on. But I have to be even firmer and more easy to read fro them. Today I really worked on the “right side of the road” issue, and after 45 minutes I feel they understand what I want. Not easy when the road is very slippery, but indeed also a safety issue. Running on the ledt when large log vehicles are out on the same road is NOT ok.
Now all of them sleeep soundly in their dog houses, and they look very content and happy and still pretty confident in me. We are trying at least!
O holidays, o dogs, o sled rides, o holy shit there is so much to think about!Dogs are smart and stubborn. So I have to be, too!