In order to replenish our kennel as older dogs retire, we try to produce a new litter of puppies each spring. Our most recent litter (7 puppies — all named after Milwaukee coffee houses) was born on March 3rd, 2013, and we’re currently getting them acclimatized to life as a mushing dog.
Training the puppies involves a lot of social interaction, both with mushers and fully-trained racing dogs — achieved through plenty of play time and positive reinforcement of basic commands. They are taught basic manners, recall and learn to recognize their musher as the ‘alpha’ member of the pack.
The musher-dog relationship is built on a strong foundation of trust. It is very important for the dogs to know that they will never be pushed to perform beyond their means, and the musher must be able to trust the dogs to obey commands (which ensures everyone’s safety).
The present litter of puppies will begin training with harnesses in early Autumn — about 5-6 months of age. This involves very slow and short runs, working up to about 10-mile runs by the end of winter 2014. After this time, the puppies will be ready to participate in the following season’s dog races.