OWNING SLED DOG BREEDS:
Training, Socialising and Life at Home!
Sled Dogs are AMAZING breeds of dogs known for their beauty
Sled dogs aren't always the best dogs for novice dog owners. They are very intelligent dogs, independent thinkers and need consistency in boundaries / training throughout their lives. Sled dogs, given half a chance, will push boundaries of owners especially around adolescent years.
They NEED a owner who will practice living with boundaries, routine and a firm but fair attitude.
We advise that first time dog owners seriously consider ALL aspects of the breed, read as much as you can and speak to sled dog owners to get hands advice of the day to day role you will need to play.
Socialisation of your sled dog from a young age is essential around children, people, dogs and a variety of experiences. Like any dog, exposure to this at a young age prevents dogs from having issues in the future. Sled dogs are a robust, playful breeds and when socialised correctly make great social family pets.
A lot of sled dog owners attend 'Pack Walks / Meets' with other sled dog owners to introduce their dogs into new situations. As they are pack animals they do well in large numbers and will benefit from socialising and play to tire them out.
Huskies are a pack animal and do very well in large numbers of dogs in the home, this is rarely considered before taking a husky home which means they often develop separation anxiety when their owners leave them to go to work.
Life at Home
Siberian Huskies are a domesticated dog who were originally bred to work in freezing climates and lived a majority of their lives outside, huskies were made to WORK pulling sleds for miles on a daily basis. Here in the UK we like our pets to stay indoors in our homes and be integrated into our domesticated lives. What we do forget is that they STILL have drive to be a working dog, to be outdoors and live a fulfilled life.
Before committing to bringing a Siberian Husky into your life you must consider how they will fit into your daily routine. EVERY dog, like us humans, benefit of a daily routine from waking up, feeding, exercising and going to bed at night, Without this you find a dog can be restless, develop behavioural issues and in the sled dog world soon find that your dog is ruling your lives.
Sled dog breeds in particular need to know what is coming and when, as their leader it is YOUR JOB to ensure they are trained, socialised, exercised daily for up to 2 hours, or more in some cases, have a good diet and boundaries in the home. This routine isn't just as they are puppies, this routine will set you and your sled dog up for LIFE.
Remember dogs like us like to be fulfilled, this should be both physically and mentally.
Health, Diet and Exercise
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES IN SLED DOGS
There's a few common health issues which sled dog breeds can develop over time, especially in older age. Here are the most common recognised in the breeds:
SLED DOG DIET AND NEUTRITION
Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies would have naturally hunted for their own foods which would consist of fresh fish, birds, mink, seaweed and other vegetables. Despite what people think, sled dogs only require small amounts of highly nutritious food to sustain their diet due to their high metabolism,meaning they need to be fed considerably small portions of food than your normal dog breeds.
Sled dogs need a balanced diet of around 30% protein, 20% fats and 30% complex carbohydrates. BUT they do not get on well with rice, grains and maze which can often be found in a most kibbles, this causes upset tummies.
For the modern day dog there is a HUGE range of diets on the market, so it may be trial and error which suits your dog in particular, as well as your own life style. Most popular in the breed is RAW meat feeding but there are a whole range of kibbles out there too, it is easy to get lost on what to feed Fido on. We highly recommend talking to fellow sled dog owners to see what THEY recommend as well as doing your own research.
Sled dogs can suffer from Zinc Deficiency which results in loss of fur, skin redness, thickening of the paw pads and crusting around the eyes,nose and mouth. Supplements for zinc is a great way to keep a balanced diet, speak to your vet for more information.
SLED DOG GROOMING
Sled dog coats come in a RANGE of lengths and thicknesses. Their dense double coats can become unmanageable if not groomed regularly and even cause issues such as matting and hot spots. Remeber...
NEVER CUT SLED DOGS COATS. The top coat is vital to keep them warm in the winter as well as cool in the summer, protecting their skin from UV rays.
ONLY USE RAKE BRUSHES AND WIDE TOOTH COMBS. Close combs & brushes can damage their top coats, making them short and brittle.
BLASTER DRYER. Blasters help loosen the under coat & especially helpful in shedding season!
EXERCISING YOUR SLED DOGS
Daily exercise is MANDETORY for sled dog breeds, without sufficient daily exercise Huskies and Malamutes can become destructive, become bored and develope MAJOR behavioural issues due to frustration. We recommend that sled dogs over 18 months old get between 1 and 2 hours of exercise DAILY!
Not only dogs daily exercise for dogs benefit their health (and your health), it also stimulates their brains and making them work tiring them out, it helps them recognise a routine and creates a bond with their handler.
Here are some GREAT WAYS to exercise your sled dogs:
DRY LAND MUSHING( SCOOTERS AND RIGS)
SECURE OFF LEAD HIRE
Recommended Equipment tried and tested by Husky Owners...
WALKING BELTS Huskies LOVE to pull but it does take its toll on our human arms. Due to their strength we do recommend using a walking belt so you can use your weight to slow them down. it is also a great idea for multi dog house holds so you have more hands free when needed AND a lower risk of you dropping the lead.
COLLARS There are a lot of collars which are great for huskies, one we do recommend is a semi-slip collar. Not only are these built for strength but they are great for those escapees to prevent them backing out of their collars, if fitted correctly.
LEADS As with dog collars there are soooooo many lead designs which are fit for purpose. The main thing when looking at leads is that they are made for strength as seen as our dogs like to pull they MUST be strong. You can get webbed leads with a regular handle, duel-clips called police leads for dogs who need a double attachment, ladder leads with additional handles that come in handy when you need to pull them in by roads (also known as traffic handles).
For dogs who PULL LOTS we recommend bungee leads to take the impact off your body, these are also used in cani-x, bikejor and other recreational activities to take impact off the dogs as well as the owner.
For dogs who like to RUN we recommend the Flexi-Giant tape retractable which can hold up to 60kg (depending on size) by Furplast. These are tried and tested with SSDR dogs which we highly rate for their robust design. Alternatively, You can also use a training lead which run from 5 meters to 50 meters! This is great to use in open spaces to let them run without the worry of them not coming back to you (no recall after all). Please note, training leads DO get very wet and dirty so keep a carrier bag spare to carry it home in.
HARNESSES It is important to have the correct equipment for the job, especially when it comes to powerful pulling dogs such as Huskies and Malamutes. Some people prefer to use harnesses to walk their dogs to help with pulling, please be aware that some harnesses actually ENHANCE the pulling power of dogs and can make it more difficult to walk sled dogs on them. There are a LOT of different harnesses out there so do your research before purchasing, some harnesses can actually harm your dog restricting movement and putting pressure on areas of the body that shouldn't. Visit SNOWPAWS STORES who will happily offer you help and advice.
STAKE OUT LINES Don't make the mis-stake (see what we did there?) of purchasing cheap equipment especially when camping or racing. Short cutting can be catastrophic if a dog gets lose! You want to keep your dogs safe while out and about so make sure you use stake pins and lines equip for the power of the Husky and Malamute, we particularly recommend avoiding commercial screw in stakes.
BIKES/RIGS & SCOOTERS Sled dogs LOVE to run and seen as our human legs can't always keep up the pace Bike-joring, scootering and rigging is a FANTASTIC was to tire our dogs out and stimulate their needs to RUN!