Working Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies that have a job are happier and less mischievous dogs. A Siberian Husky is able to perform all types of "jobs". The one we all think of first, the one the breed is famous for? Of course pulling a sled. We have ALL seen photos, paintings and sketches of beautiful Siberian Husky teams.
There are many more jobs that a Siberian Husky can perform. Many Siberian Huskies are trained to do several jobs. Our own Petey, was not only a Sled Dog, he also pulled a Scooter and had to then also be a Lead Dog. He was a very accomplished Weight Pulling Dog, he Backpacked, Did Tricks, Entertained at Old Folks Homes, Schools, and he was a wonder Companion to us.
Many people have trained the Siberian Huskies to become certified Therapy Dogs. Siberian Huskies for the most part have the temperament to visit Nursing Homes as well as Hospitals, however, most are a bit aloof, not a bad thing, you do not want a dog to be jumping on or overwhelming the patience's there. However the idea of the visits is for the people there to pet and hold the animals. Make sure your dog is not only trained for this sort of visit, but also groomed to the "nines".
Siberian Huskies hold titles in Obedience, Agility, Rally O, and Tracking. The work to gain such titles with your own Siberian Husky comes from the amount of training you are willing to put into your dog.
To me a Siberian Husky wearing a Harness or a Backpack...just a beautiful site to behold! Siberian Huskies can not only be trained to pull a sled or rig or scooter, they can also be taught to work in shafts, pulling a wagon or cart.
TRAINING IS THE KEY
The key to a happy working Siberian Husky is an owner that is willing and able to train the dog. If you are new to training dogs, join a Basic Obedience Class in your area and learn to train your dog. From there it is up to you on how and for what job you will train your dog. I have all types of training information, as well as how to make metal shafts for wagons and other useful working dog information sprinkled throughout our dog websites.
Let me warn or is it give you a hint. Many people think that Donkeys are stupid and stubborn, the truth is, they are neither, they are just really smart and have to be trained a bit different than other equine. They get very bored going round and round and round in a Round Pen as one would train a Horse. They understand faster than other equine, so they stop and look at the Human Trainer who may or may not understand that they are ready to move on to the next step.
Siberian Huskies are much the same. Many people think they are stupid dogs that only know how to run, not true. Like Donkeys, Siberian Huskies learn fast and are ready to move on to the next step, not really willing as a Labrador Retriever to just keep doing the same steps the Human Trainer thinks they need to. One thing I learned when training our Siberian Huskies is that "mixing it up" holds their attention better, makes them want to be trained or spend time with the Trainer. Yes, you sure can be training a Siberian Husky to pull, and later that day start Backpack Training, or Trick Training with the same dog. In fact, I recommend it with all dogs, but Siberian Huskies! Of course!
Another warning. Like Donkeys, if you let your Siberian Husky get away with misbehaving, if you do not insist they perform a behavior, when the Trainer asks for it, they will figure out real fast that they do not have to do what the Trainer is asking. They will learn to ACT dumb, so that the average Trainer gives up, thinks the animal is stupid...
Years ago I had a person from a Dog Club we were in together tell me that I was lucky, that I always bought smart dogs. All of hers were really dumb. <????> I said to her, no I am not a Politically Correct person, that perhaps it was the training they received and not that the animals were stupid at all. You know? It was like a light bulb went off in her head.
Training takes YOUR time and consistency. If you want a well happy behaved dog and or one that can perform a job or jobs well, you must be willing to devote the time it takes to train your dog to become that dog you are hoping to own.
It is not Rocket Science, but there is some training that needs to go into Backpacking with your dog(s). The panniers need to be even, that is packed with the same weight on each side. You do not have to sleep out on the trail to enjoy Backpacking with your dog. Day Trips are a lot of fun, pack up a lunch and invite friends to go with you. Check out our information on how to train your dog to wear a backpack and what you might need on the trail at our websites, the most detailed would be on www.workinggermanshepherddogs.com
TRAINING YOUR DOG TO PULL
First let me say that I am not a professional dog trainer/instructor. I have taught many dogs to pull for their first time and what I am writing has what worked for me. I do not know you, your dog or the type of trainer that you are. I am therefore not responsible for any accidents or injuries that may occur with your dog training.
Always start any dog training with the proper equipment. An x-back, or a recreational type harness can be used for pulling a dog sled, dog rig, a scooter, or someone on skis or skates. It is not the type harness you would use to work a dog in shafts....like a wagon or cart, for that you need a proper fitting cart and or a multipurpose harness. You would also not use an X-back or Recreational Harness for weight pulling with your dog.
A word about collars. Do not use a choke collar to teach you dog to pull. Use a flat nylon webbing or leather collar with a good sturdy metal buckle or a sled dog type collar. There is a very popular collar out that has a plastic side release buckle. These are not for sled dog training, they can and have broken at the buckle. To be safe with your dog....you do not want that buckle to break and have your dog running scared with 'something chasing him', use proper equipment when working your dog. (Personally I don't like the side release buckle collars for any dog)
You have purchased a new sled dog harness, but, you have never put one on a dog before, now what?
Take the tug, the loop at the back of the harness and hold the harness in the air. Is everything straight? Is the fleece padding to the inside of the harness?
Now look at the harness, the fleeced 'X' is the top of the harness. This will go up on the shoulder area of the dog. You will notice a fleeced 'breast plate' that is longer then the 'X' on the opposite side of the "head hole", that part goes along the dogs breast bone area.
Call the dog to you and if possible have the dog "sit" in front of you. Take the tug in you right hand, now run you left hand into the harness in the opposite direction that the dog will wear it. Everything but the breast plate that is padded will be over the dog's back. Now grab (gently) the dogs muzzle and pull the harness back over the neck of the dog. Stop, pull all of the dog's collars, leashes, tags and anything else you have on your dog forward past the harness. If you do not do this, your dog will be pulling with whatever you left under the harness digging into him.
Now lift the dog's right leg up toward the dog, do not pull the leg out as your arm would go out from you side, but up towards the dog's body. Put the dog's leg through the leg whole, then repeat on the left side. Now take hold of the tug and pull it back towards the dogs tail... isn't that pretty!!! You have now successfully harnessed your "new sled dog".
When you take the harness off the dog do it slowly and unharness one leg gently at a time, and again pulling the legs up not out. Pull the harness off so that it does not turn itself inside out. When the harness is off the dog, hold the harness again by the tug and make sure it is straight so that the next time you get it out, it is ready when the dog arrives to be harnessed. I recommend that you hang the harness by the tug between uses.
Let's say that your dog has never had a harness on before and you would like for him to start pulling a load for you. Once the dog has the harness on for the first time, just do something fun...something your dog really enjoys doing, like eating, fetching, or going for a short walk. Make a fuss over the dog wearing the harness and give the dog extra hugs and treats. Take the harness off. Never leave a dog unattended with a harness on, it may chew up the harness and your fun is over... until you get it repaired.
Now the work starts for you. You need a rope about 6' long or an old leash. You need a small log or a small tire for the dog to pull. If you choose a log, drill a whole in the end of it and insert a screw in type eye bolt, this is what you will hook to the leash then to the dogs harness. If you choose a small tire, that too will get a whole drilled into the tread with a bolt type eyebolt thru that. Now gather all this gear together, put the harness on the dog as well as a leash and take a walk around your yard with YOU pulling the log or tire in your other hand. The dog needs time to get used to the sound of the item you are pulling as well as getting used to seeing something 'following' the two of you. If the dog is afraid or nervous about the item just reassure it and keep walking. Do not baby the dog, or he will never pull for you. That's all the lesson that you should do for the day but repeat the same lesson for next couple of days. Remember, you did not learn to speed skate in a day.
Now after the above training put the harness on the dog and make a big fuss over the dog...put the dog on a leash and take it outdoors, you may want to take the dog for a walk before you start pulling just to take the edge off your dog.
Here's the big moment...You have your dog in harness, your pulling item is attached to the leash you are pulling it with, you have treats for the dog when it is doing a good job and you are calm and ready. Let me tell you here!! Never let the pulling item hit the dog in the rear!! Hook the dog to the leash in your hand first, now hook the pulling item to your dogs harness, start walking telling the dog "Pull, Good Dog", if the dog is afraid hold your confidence and keep walking holding a treat in front of the dog so that it moves toward your hand as your tell the dog, "Pull, Good Dog". Just pull long enough (time wise) for the dog to get praise for the right behavior, maybe 10 - 15 minutes. Now some dogs, just 'get it', other's however you will have to work with like this for a week or two.
Now your dog is pulling the item with confidence. Start telling your dog the sled dog commands as you walk the when the dog is pulling and when you are just walking for fun. When you stop, say "Whoa" this is the most important command. Give the dog a "Let's Go" command each time you want him to move forward in harness. When going to the right day "Gee" (rhymes with see), and for left, "Haw". When the dog stops to sniff say "On By" as you pull the dog forward, always be sure to praise the dog for right behavior. Have treats with you and make a huge fuss over the dog. Try to get the dog out in front of you rather then walking at your side. When your dog is 'getting it' it is time to get out your scooter or a pair of skates (if you are quite brave) and a helmet and enlist a little help from another human.
Get a long leash for the dog and have a friend hold the leash with your dog attached to it. Get your scooter or whatever you have chosen to pull ready with a six foot line attached. Have your helper move forward and you tell the dog the "Let's Go" command that you will be using. Remember, pay attention to what you are doing and do not ride up and hit your dog in the rear. Be sure to tell your helper that they will be running with the dog. I would use a spotter (the other human helping you until you really feel really ready to "GO"!.
Always make sure that you have the right equipment and that is proper fitting when training or working your dog. Check it often to make sure that it is in good repair and keep it clean for long life. Most webbing harnesses are machine washable but not machine dryable, hang the harness that is clean and wet by the tug loop for 24 hours (they look new again after a good washing).
Other easier ways to have your dog learn to pull are....after the dog is used to having the harness on and is used to pulling the log or tire, have someone ride a bike or ATV in front of your dog while the dog pulls you. Start this on level ground.
If you are really lucky to have a friend that is running their dog in harness, have your dog follow them out......dogs learn from other dogs, keep in mind that's also good and bad behavior, choose the dogs your dog learns from wisely.
If your friend is really quite nice and your dog is well behaved and started well in harness pulling the log or tire maybe your friend will let you hook your dog into their team for a spin. Do not ask to drive the team. If offered, make sure you can handle the team before stepping on or into the driving stand or seat.
Your local library or the Internet has 'loads' of information on sled dogs. Our local Library, when we were in Antigo, WI, even subscribes to "Mushing" magazine. There are also several sled dog elist to join at the Yahoo Site. Good Luck and have a good time.
MAKING A SIMPLE AND FREE (of cost) INDIAN TYPE TRAVOIS
If you are so inclined you might build this Travois for training your dog to pull. You will be able to build the Travois for no or very low cost. It might be a good item to start your dog pulling.
To make a very simple (and basically cost free) Travois for your dog to pull.....Cut two long branches or small trees about 5'- 7' long and one about 2' and another 3' long. Use paracord or rope to tie the two longer branches together in and "A" shape with the top of A crossed over in a small "X". Use the 3' piece for the cross piece in the A and add the 2' piece just above the 3' piece. You tie your load into a blanket and lash in between the two cross pieces... you now have an Indian Travois. You could also basket weave the area of cargo with cord or rope.
Do NOT hook to the dog's collar for pulling. Hook the top X of the Travios to your dog's X in it's, either, Recreational, X-Back, or Multipurpose Harness.
When first training your dog to pull this type of Travois, have one person walk the dog with a leash and another to walk beside it, this will keep the dog walking straight, and the person next to the Travios, can hold it if the dog starts to turn circles or is acting up.
My own Dog Travois we made out of 1" x 2" x 8' boards with five 1" dowels cut to 12" pieces as cross bars at the bottom of the Travois. We also wove 3/4" Rope back and forth to make an area for cargo. I added two snaps to either side of the Travois to hook into my Multipurpose Harness for quick and easy attachment to the dog. The Multipurpose Harness offers the correct way for a dog to pull weight with chest padding. It may not have looked like the "Traditional Taviois" that have been used for centuries on horses and dogs, but it worked great and was a Favorite when my dogs pulled it in Parades.
much more to come
If you are new to Siberian Huskies, or just new to training them or teaching them to enjoy a job, you might want to visit www.DogStarKennel.com or one of our other dog websites listed in the Sister Sites at the right, for information on how we train our own dogs.
more to come
The contents of this page for Working Siberian Huskies is still under construction. Please check back later!
-- The Seppala News Team
Fri, 14 Mar 2014 10:30:35 -0400