Fall is fast approaching, and to be perfectly honest: I am OK with that. Judging by the energy level in the dog yard I am going to have to say the Dew Claw dogs are too. In the summer we wait and run on rainy cool days or in the middle of the night. But our cooler temperatures now mean we can get the dogs out more often. Right now we are focusing on two main activities: free running and command training. Command training is done in a maze of trails and an open field by the cabin, and is specifically for improving communication and shared expectations. *and will be the topic of a future post.
Free running is about fun and going fast. We have posted about free running before in “Dan’s New Toy“. It goes without saying that it is great good fun for the dogs, and Dan. But free running also has some important added benefits for us. It lets us take a good look at how each dog is moving. Sometimes you can see things in a naturally moving dog that are not as apparent when they run in harness. Watching them free run is one of the tools we have to asses the dogs gait and condition.
In addition we feel that these free run’s, essentially short high energy sprints, mixed with traditional distance fall training runs; better conditions the team for the long season ahead. Our hope is, that along with boosting moral these sprints mixed in will help with speed development and aerobic fitness early on.
This is a very exciting time to be involved in distance mushing. The work and research being done by veterinarians to help us understand what these amazing dogs are capable of is allowing us to better care for and race them. But there is still a lot we are learning. As a resource I often find myself looking to the world of marathon and ultra-marathon runners. And there is where you will find some interesting ideas and training plans. Though these are not written for canines they can provide some good information about athletic conditioning for distance and aerobic fitness.
Here are some informative articles that talk about running and conditioning for humans. They bring up good ideas and explain basic concepts that can be considered when working with sled dogs.
~Speed Development: Why marathoners should sometimes train like sprinters.
~Long Runs vs. Sprint: Which develop VO2 max more effectively.
It is important to note: although humans and sled dogs share have some similarities in physiology that there are also some major differences. When it comes down to it sled dogs are athletes in ways humans can (for now) only dream about. Read more about the research being done by Veterinarian Michael Davis, Oklahoma State University that illustrates how amazing these canine athletes are.
~Iditarod Sled Dog’s Fat Burning Capacities
~DARPA Study on Sled Dogs; Outside Magazine
Some of the Dew Claw athletes who will be racing with us this winter.