11 December 2013

How to ruin a dog

Sounds harsh, I know. And I don't want this post to take on a bitter tone. I  just want this post to be a warning for bad habits we can pick up.   So here we go, how to ruin a good dog!

Please, don't try this at home!

Hiding from skijoring.

1.  Ruin their confidence.  

Pretty much all of the ways to ruin a good dog, ruin their confidence.  The most common one I see is stressing a new dog too fast.   Going on crazy trails, or pairing them with a fast team, while they are still learning the ropes.   Everything you want for a dog new to the sport, should be to show the dog what they CAN do, not what they CAN'T.

2.  Nag Them

 Some dogs, depending on a variety of factors, also need to slack up a bit on the tugline, and coast, catch their breath, and then keep going.  This is normal.   The other dog on the team will pick up the slack so to speak, or the skier works harder, while the dog catches his breath.  This is a team sport, and your dog will do it back for you, when you need to coast for a bit then catch your breath.  If you see an honest dog slacking up a bit on the tugline, then let them breather for a bit, they will be back at it in a bit.

3.  Talk too much.  

Tell your dog what you want them to do, Hike, Gee, Haw, and then ski.


And quietly!

4.  Run with an alligator dog.

Another ill behaved dog, who is going to reach out and attack your dog is a quick way to ruin your dog's confidence.  That's an alligator.  No one likes an alligator.   But they do make fine purses.

If you and your dog can't get over the attack, then you might end up fostering an alligator yourself!  Or a dog who shies away from passing or being passed by other teams.

Further to this point, it is your job to keep your dog safe while out skijoring.   Your dog should not be in a position that he feels the need to defend himself, not should he feel that he needs to teach another dog a lesson.   That's where the handlers come in.

5. Don't lead them.

Your dog looks to you for direction.  Literally.   When you take Fido out for a skijor be confident and in control.  Shoulders up, deep breaths.  You are in control of this operation and your dog wants to know that!   Go out with a plan for your run.   If you see your dog getting tired, slow him down, or give him a break before they decide to quit on you.  Make the decisions that are best for your dog and he will learn to trust you.

Tell him with enough time when to turn.  Some dogs need more time to process the command than others.  So be ready to help them out.

6.  Chase rabbits.  

Chasing rabbits is a bad habit.  It most often leads to a dog who is dependent on chasing other teams, and may lack the motivation to go out on their own.

The chase instinct is part of prey drive.  Encouraging your dog to chase another team, is encouraging their prey drive, towards another team.   So while you may enjoy the free ride, what happens when you catch the other team?   How will you get your dog to pass teams sitting on the side of the trail, if your dog considers them to be prey?  Skip the rabbit, get out and teach your dog properly.

There are no short cuts that are worth ruining a good dog.