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Thread: Endurance Training

  1. #1

    Default Endurance Training

    I am new to dogsledding, but have always had a fondness for the sport. My sleddog Coho (who is literally the love of every breath I breathe) and I have been working together for about a year, when she came into my life a stray little puppy. Her real owners, my neighbors, refuse to feed or care for her. She is one of many fur-balls that have made themselves at home in my yard, for the obvious reason of food and attention. But onwards with the conversation!

    This winter I'm hoping to get Coho used to a harness, she's finally an adult and can fit into one. And I'm wondering what some tips are on training her for long distance running? Is there a step by step process I should take to getting her used to running for prolounge periods? How should I go about training, while letting her enjoy running and not completely wearing her out on the way home? I don't have a team by any means. I have a team of strays, but she's the only one who has that bred-in love of racing, so I'm taking that gene and running with it (no pun intended). I'd love to make her my 'lead dog' someday, but as for now I'm just having fun training her, and she's having fun in return. I've never ski'd in my life, but I intend to buy a cross-country pair and have her pull me this winter to get her started with the harness. She's a year old and full of life, I'd love to be able to adventure around the tundra with her, without holding her back with my slow human-like legs. We take walks everywhere, but she's always whining at me to catch up- needless to say my two legs can only go so fast. And if I could train her for long distance, we would be able to explore scenery that we've never had the chance to together. That's my hope, it's not so much about the speed, so much about the ability to run for long periods of time without wearing her down.
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
    Find me online at and at fairs, markets, and festivals around AK.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Two Rivers, AK


    What we consider "long distance" and dogs consider long distance are not much the same. If you've really never run dogs before your best bet would be to find someone local to talk with - visit their kennel, look at how they rig their lines, talk with them about training and nutrition, watch them hook up their dogs, etc. It's pretty tough to start out on your own.

    That said, with a dog a year old you can start out with a few miles right off and start working your way up. It's amazing what dogs can do, but make sure she's staying sound (not lame), and keep an eye on her feet. But seriously, find somebody to work with. Also check out There are some opinionated people there who don't have any idea what they're doing but there are some amazingly accomplished/skilled mushers there, too, who are generous with their advice.

    [My favorite beginner story: this guy decided that he was going to start skijoring with his dog, but he'd never done it before and wasn't sure of the gear so rather than getting a proper belt he just tied a rope around his waist. As soon as the dog took off the rope slipped up under his armpits, and that threw off his center of balance so much that he immediately went face-down in the snow and was pulled some distance like that. Don't do that.]

  3. #3
    New member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default Little advice

    If you want to train your dog to run long distance it doesn't mean to start training 20 miles at the first lesson. First you have to realise what does the long distance run means to the dog.
    Some example: running long distance means running in different surfaces (snow, dry land, wet or dry surface ...). That means that foots of zour dog has to be prepared for these changes. So, first tip for training: try to change as much surfaces as possible during free running or pulling training.
    As the second thing You have to keep on mind the proper hydration of your dog since during pulling while running there is a lot of water lost from organism and its low level can cause fatal injuries. So, when training do not forget to give your dog regular supply of water (when i start with my dogs we were drinking each 500 meters ). Drinking frequency must be change step by step (from each 1 to 4 or 5 miles).

    As beginner you should start training rather for short distances to assure that your dog will enjoy that particular training and will be looking forward for next one. Always remember that it is not important to have strong pulling dog or super fast dog but to have dog who love running and pulling.

    One more thing: when putting harness make this slowly and without pressure even it means 100times repetition. Dog have to love harness not to be affraid of it.

    By the end sorry for my english I'm from Czech republic in Europe. Hope I helped you little at least

  4. #4


    mishore: Well, I wasn't thinking even ten miles a day for long distance... more so about five miles at the longest. I'd be happy with a mile, but she easily runs that with our four-wheeler and it barely causes her to pant for 30 seconds. She just loves running and I'd like to wear her out so when she hops on the couch with me at night she isn't so hyper that I'm guilted into running around with her a while to settle her down.

    Thanks for the tip on the website, I shall certainly check it out!

    I will most certainly do my research on the proper equipment, to ensure both her and I's wellbeing. She's also on an all-natural meat diet of dry-fish salmon, lynx, beaver, and if she's lucky moose scraps from dinner. I know a few mushers here in the village who would probably sit down and talk me through their Eskimo tecniques All are retired now, but I know a lot of the elders who would be able to give me a Yup'ik lesson in making a team. They'll all laugh their butts off when they see me with one dog pulling a pair of skis. Such a white-person thing to do. haha

    surka: Your English was great! I wouldn't have even known you were from the Czech Republic had you not said anything. Like I said I'm only hoping to get her running around 5 miles a day. I'm not trying to make a professional racer out of her- I just want to have fun with her. I would definately bring a lot of extra water! I do when we take hikes. Then again there are countless streams here so she makes herself at home playing in the water when we walk past one. She always drinks out of them.

    She's a pretty easy-going dog. Kids pull, tug, hit, kick, and throw rocks at her all day long. They wrap blankets over her head, throw her in the river, and hundreds of other village-mischeif sorts of things. I've never heard her bark at anyone unless their drunk... and she puts up with ALOT from the children. I really don't think she's going to have a problem with the harness. She's used to collars and ropes. And last year she was hooked up to children's sleds multiple times, but I will make sure to get her comfortable with it, before we start running.

    Thanks for the tips guys! I appreciate it!
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
    Find me online at and at fairs, markets, and festivals around AK.

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