The fun and interesting thing with each litter of pups is that they are all very different. Some mature fast and some just needs a little bit of extra time.
There´s many ways to Rome
I don´t have a set schedule or routine that works the same on each litter, even if the goal is somewhat similar. Some pups can be with their mom for a long time, up to 8-10 months, and I see a lot of value in that. Some moms you have to take out early, at around 6-8 weeks, it all depends on how the pups and mom are handling the situation.
Keeping them healthy
It´s important that all the puppies get a little chunky in my opinion. Mom also needs to be fed an enormous amount of food during pregnancy and specially with a big litter of 8-10 pups. It´s important with a rich diet, including good proteins, fats and not to mention the right marine omega-3s. This supports brain development, ensure that joints are healthy and in overall makes me confident that I get strong and healthy pups on the inside and outside. So while a dog is pregnant or with a new litter, there´s no saving of the goodies.
Follow our team: Creating an Athlete
Walks and play time is what it’s all about the first 6-7 months. I really like to walk pups with their mom and several retired race dogs, that all just hang out real close to me. They learn so much from other dogs, like how to behave, work in a team or just communicate with each other and me.
First time in harness
Harness break in happens anywhere from 6 months to a year. Some litters are ready for the harness early, while some needs more time to grow and mature a bit. It’s all short fun runs in harness, small teams on sleds or the ATV. I always bring my calmest most reliable easy going dogs to run with the puppies. It makes it more calm and relaxing until the pups knows what they are doing.
Once I start with harness on the pups I like to keep them going about every day for a while. I found that to speed up their learning a lot. This way, they very fast get a hang of things. It’s also a pluss if the pups grew up watching the main team take off and come home. It’s like they already know what to do just from watching the big dogs do it.
Getting ready to race
We rotate all the pups in all positions in the team after their first few runs. This makes it easier to find out who to focus on as far as leaders the first few months of training. In my opinion the pup needs two full season of training before it can be raced on a top long distance team. That way they got the muscle and the experience to know what’s ahead. Not to say younger dogs can’t do it, but this is my preference most of the time.
The pups have a lot to learn, harness, booties, jackets, commands, travel, camping, distractions, trail challenges and so on. The more they get to experience the earlier the better. Racing shorter races early, seeing other teams are all great practice.
Read more: A Bulletproof Setup