Keeping Up

Distance Moving Time Average Speed Maximum Speed
2.47 miles 0:13.43 10.78 mph 17.66 mph

Sunday may have been our last trip to the Pine Barrens for the 2011-2012 season. I hope not, but if it was, we ended on a very good note. We did a short run at Mt. Misery – just 1.2 miles out and back, like we had done the week before. This time, I had the rig instead of the bike. And this time, the dogs absolutely flew. 

My phone app clocked the team at 17.66 miles per hour – definitely their fastest maximum speed yet. They held steady, averaging 10 miles per hour after their initial burst at take off. Knox is the added kick of strength and power we really needed. I can’t wait to do longer runs with him, but I’m taking it slow.

Sunday morning was the last bit of cold we’ll be getting for at least a week. Temperatures will be in the upper 60’s and lower 70’s for the next couple of days. Since it’s too warm to run, I’m focusing on the dogs’ loose-leash walking skills (or lack there of).

Denali needs the most work with walking manners. Her walks aren’t walks – they’re still runs, in her mind. It’s not easy to teach a dog, who was bred and trained to pull, to walk nicely. Knox and Dexter each need their own individual training as well.

My plan is to walk each dog separately every day this spring and summer. The huskies will be walked in the morning or evening, Knox getting the cooler time slot (since he’s got the heaviest coat). Dexter isn’t bothered by heat, so unless it’s blistering, he’ll get walked in the late afternoon. As they improve, I’ll walk in pairs. The ultimate goal is to loose-leash walk all three together without issue.

I will be walking each with a leash attached to a limited slip O-ring collar. I need for them to differentiate between the collar/lead and pulling with their x-back harness. After all, I still want them to pull when the cool temperatures return.

I’ll also be walking the dogs on a different path, at least for the beginning of their loose-leash training. Right now, they associate our usual route with running and pulling. If I go a different direction, I’m hoping they’ll be thinking more, instead of just acting on their RUN RUN RUN instincts.

To further work their manners, I’ll be taking them around the local park, where lots of distractions will come into play: other dogs, kids, people, etc.

Today was Denali’s first real test. She did better than she usually does, since she was by herself and not focusing on leading the other two. She pulled, as expected, but also had a few stretches of loose-leash walking. I also got her to check out her surroundings a bit – sniff the ground, look at the lake, watch joggers pass. Usually, she’s all business and doesn’t look anywhere but forward. 

Knox is still getting used to walks by himself, so I don’t think it will be quite as hard to train him to walk nicely. Dexter can walk well, but he has a different problem entirely – he marks and sniffs every few feet, which can get annoying.

I’ll continue to update on our runs, assuming we get a few more before the temperatures stay consistently above 50 degrees. Once that happens, I’ll be using the blog to document the dogs’ non-mushing related activities and training. I’ll also use the off-season to write up some articles about mushing in general – not just my little team. So don’t go anywhere!

2011-2012 Mileage to Date: 121.94

Jessica Kizmann

Dog musher, New Jersey.