27 November 2012

Is my dog too old to skijor? Is my dog too young?

A Question of Age

On one end of the spectrum, we see people come out with young dogs, usually about 8 months of age, and want to get into the sport.  On the other end, people notice their old  friends are starting to slow down and start to question when is the right time to retire the dog.

This post will address both topics.

The Young Dog


Young dogs are full of energy, and can be hard for some owners to handle.  People look for an outlet for their dogs, and are drawn to skijoring.

If you want a life-long skijoring partner, the emphasis should not be on tiring your young dog out, but rather on FUN!  Keep sessions short, and the weight light.  Do not overload or overwork a young dog. Their bodies and minds are still growing. 

Keeping sessions short and fun also leaves the dog wanting more.  It should always be your idea when it is time to stop, not the dog's.  So stop your pup before they grow bored, and you will have a dog who is always eager to get out and pull! 

Everything you do is training.  You can train your dog that pulling is fun, by keeping it that way.

You are responsible for your dog.  Make the right call, and your young dog will pull happily for many years to come.

Yeah, but your dog is eating your house, and driving you nuts?   Still want your hyper puppy a little more tired?  Mental work can be a great way to tire out a young dog.   While your dog is young, and you are waiting for longer runs, work on walks around the block with the focus on training the commands you will need later on.
                                
Follow our training progress with our youngster here
 

The Old Dog

We recently lost Old School, at the age of 15.  She was a happy and fit dog, who joined us on our adventures right up to the day she died.  

When she was about 8, she lost her interest in pulling, and we mostly retired her.   She was happy to come out and run along behind us as we skijored or biked.  We kept the pace slow, and watched for any sign of lameness.    Keeping her active and fit throughout her whole life, even when she had started to slow down, helped lessen the effects of ageing.  

No one knows your dog better than you.   Some dogs want to please you so much that they will pull, even when they shouldn't be.  It's up to you to make the call, and slow it down for your old friend.

Old dogs can still pull, you will need to work harder, pair them with a tired out younger dog, give them a raised bed, and treat them as the dear old friends they are.  Just as you started off slow with your young dog, start to slow it down for your old dog.  Runs will be shorter, and slower.   Old dogs want to have fun too!