Trouble on the Trails

Denali is an incredible dog. She’s so awesome in harness, that on bad days (like today), I have to remind myself – she’s only a year and a half. This is only her second season in harness. She’s way ahead of the curve, so little slip-ups are to be expected.

We’ve only done a few runs thus far, but I’ve noticed her prey drive is way more intense than it was last year. She used to get excited by squirrels or ground hogs, and even try to chase after them – but I could always call her off. It took 15-30 seconds for her to regain her composure, and we were moving again.

This year, she’s way more focused on capturing whatever it is that darted into her line of vision. In fact, she seems to be going after imaginary animals, too. Or she’ll stop at places where we saw an animal during a previous run and try to find it.

This behavior throws Knox off and he joins in on the hunt. Dexter either joins in, or stands there pitifully while she yanks at his neckline. Today was pretty frustrating, in particular. I had to get off the bike several times to pull Denali out of the bushes and point her in the right direction.

I don’t like screaming my head off at the dogs (especially when I’m around the neighborhood, with the occasional bystander looking on in awe), but they go deaf to my commands when they’re chasing something. Sometimes, a stern enough shout breaks them out of it. Most of the time, though, I need to physically pull them away. And that’s not good.

Hopefully, with more runs, Denali will settle down and be the leader I know she is. And as the temperatures drop, all the little critters will hopefully be sleeping away in their dens.

2012-2013 Mileage to Date: 18.2

Jessica Kizmann

Dog musher, New Jersey.

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