Archive for the ‘Titan’ Categoryby Northernmost on September 1, 2012 in Daily Life, Gemma, Hilary, Titan with No Comments
One thing that all our dogs that go back to Mountain Home have in common is the Beaver Gene. They love to play with sticks and they love to share their sticks with their friends. I think this type of behaviour strengthens the bond between pack members and also improves their ability to work together as a team. Carrying a stick together is a bit like being connected by the neckline – it works best if you syncronize your steps.
Gem with her half-sister Jeti – we miss you, beautiful girl <3
Autumn is here and it’s time to fill the dog houses with fresh hay. During summer we only have a small amount of hay in their houses, just to provide a soft bedding for them to rest on, while during autumn and winter we fill the houses to half the total volume to keep them warm and comfy in any weather. Our Malamutes love the smell of fresh bedding and can’t wait to snuggle up inside.
Fredrik is cleaning the dog houses while Titan is helping out.
Our Mals get excited about fresh hay – in almost the same way that they get excited about food.
Even Tuisku, who normally sleeps on the roof of his dog house, was quick to jump inside.
During rainy periods we change the bedding more frequently while during winter it’s often enough to change it once a month. The hay comes from our own field so we have a steady supply and enough to last us all winter. Most people recommend using straw rather than hay as bedding for dog houses but we have tried both and have found that hay actually works better for our climate.
The dog houses are designed so that they are just large enough for our Mals to stand up, turn around and lie down in comfortably. They are well insulated and built on low platforms to keep them off the frozen ground. We now have five outdoor dog houses and two dog houses inside the barn for Leia and Thunder. We are also in the process of completing two double dog houses in our newest kennels. The plan was to paint all houses in a pretty red colour before winter but I’m not sure there will be time for that, as it’s already rather chilly in the evenings. Maybe we’ll have an early winter this year?
A snapshot from Wednesday’s dog walk. Titan is being told by eight-year-old “Kajsa” that “Just because you’re bigger doesn’t mean you’re the boss!!” Wish I had caught Titan’s surprised expression on film as it was SO funny!! 🙂
Have a good weekend everyone!
While Fredrik and I don’t hunt ourselves we nevertheless enjoy training our dogs in the field of blood tracking. A trained blood tracking dog is a valuable resource when recovering wounded game and can also help locate animals that have been wounded in traffic. In Sweden, a registered blood tracking dog must according to law be available within two hours when hunting moose, deer and other big animals, to avoid unnecessary suffering if the animal is wounded but not immediately found. As a result, it’s quite common for dog owners to train their dogs in the field of blood tracking. The great thing about this sport is that your dog get to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors while doing what comes absolutely naturally to him.
We find blood tracking to be especially suitable for restless teenage dogs as it allows them to use both their bodies and brains during a relatively relaxed working assignment. It is also a great activity for senior Mals who may not be able to run on the sledding team but still need regular exercise and stimulation. So far we haven’t come across a Malamute that doesn’t enjoy tracking. Someone once suggested that blood tracking is detrimental to the working discipline of sled dogs since it encourages their hunting instincts and make them more prone to chasing wild animals. In our view, this is far from the truth. In fact we feel that dogs that are trained regularly in the sport of blood tracking are able to focus better at any sport they are involved in, simply because tracking and spending time in the great outdoors make them generally more relaxed, happy and harmonious.
Our boy Thunder has successfully completed the Swedish aptitude test in blood tracking.The test instructor provided the following written critique after the test: “A dog that works purposefully and seeks and solves his tracking task with elegance. He displays excellent tracking ability and good cooperative skills.” Since Thunder really enjoys tracking we are now working towards having him approved as a certified blood tracking dog.
Titan has also tried his paw at blood tracking. Last weekend we prepared a 400 metre long trail for him to practice at. At the official tracking trials the trail is over 600 metres (1969 ft) long.
Mission accomplished – Titan found the hoof! While some dogs like to carry the hoof when the work is completed, others are not that interested and prefer to be rewarded with a treat or toy instead. After the training session we put the hoof back in the freezer, that way it can be used many times.
HOW TO DO IT
When laying a scent line we drag a moose hoof behind us while sprinkling small amounts of blood at regular intervals from a plastic bottle. We use no more than 2 deciliter blood over 600 metres. The trails at the official tracking trials in Sweden include at least 4 angles and a shorter section where no blood is used and we design our trails to resemble these as much as possible. We mark the trail with coloured tape which we place high on trees to make them less visible to the dog. Through these markings we know if the dog is going in the right direction and can gently correct his/her work if needed. To make things easier for us, we use different colours for straight track, for angles, and for sections without blood. We let the track age for at least 12 hours before going out, as otherwise it would be too easy for the dog. When training puppies and inexperienced dogs we use lines that are fresh and gradually build up the level of difficulty. By always laying the track downwind we encourage our dogs to work with a deep nose.
If you are interested in learning more about blood tracking we recommend the following books:
In Swedish: Aktivera din hund genom viltspårning, Kristian Carlsson (2006) and Träna Viltspår : Grunderna i eftersök för dig och din hund, Marita Carlsson (2009).
In English: Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer, John Jeanneney (2004). This book is often referred to as the “bible of blood tracking” and is suitable for beginners and veterans alike. You can also learn more about blood tracking (American style) by visiting the website of United Blood Trackers and by reading the blog of tracking experts John and Jolanta Jeanneney, named Born To Track.
The perhaps important thing to remember when starting your dog in tracking is to trust your dog and allow him or her to work in front of you. Ideally, you should be no closer to your dog than 5 metres (16ft) behind. Dogs are natural trackers and do best when they are allowed to work without any help or interference. Most dogs, regardless of breed, love to track!
We went on another enjoyable walk this evening with the “Bernese Mountain Dogs & Friends Walking Group”. Eleven dogs of six different breeds took part and many of the dogs ran off leash through most of the walk. Great fun and a wonderful opportunity for socialization!
Hilary and Titan were excited to meet the dogs from last week’s walk. This time, however, Titan was a tiny bit grumpy with the other males when they met up close (probably due to Lyra being in heat at home) but at the same time he didn’t mind being told off by a tiny terrier. Overall, we were pleased with how both Titan and Hilary behaved around other dogs. Hilary is about to come in season but still loves everyone, big and small. That’s how we would like every Malamute to be – social, friendly and tolerant. We’re also noticing that this summer’s clicker training is starting to pay off; Hilary doesn’t pull on the lead as much as before and is seeking contact quite frequently. Nice to be able to see results after only a couple of months of training 🙂
Sunday is Funday for our Mals as if the weather allows we practise agility together in the garden. All our Mals LOVE agility and can hardly wait for their turn. Some are natural jumpers while others do better at the more “brainy” obstacles. We have lots of fun training at home and also take classes whenever they are available. At the moment we are nowhere near ready to compete with our dogs but it’s a great way of bonding and having fun together, while keeping bodies and brains in good shape!
Lyra tries out the tyre jump.
Thunder practises the weave poles.
Tuisku completes the chute.
AGILITY IS FUN!!!
This evening was spent in the company of a lovely bunch of people and their dogs. In search of more opportunities for socializing and training our Malamutes we recently came across a group of Bernese Mountain Dog owners who meet on a weekly basis in our local area. We read on their website that they use positive training methods only and since we agree with this philosophy 100%, we decided to ask whether it would be OK for us to bring a couple of our Malamutes to their Wednesday gathering. To our delight they responded that we were very welcome to join them – on one condition: we had to be fans of the Bernese Mountain Dog! Well, that condition wasn’t difficult for us to meet; when Fredrik and I were growing up we both had the Bernese Mountain Dog among our Top 3 favourite breeds 🙂
Bernese Mountain Dog puppies are truly irresistible – this happy little guy is called “Malte”.
To this first meeting we decided to bring along Titan and Hilary. Titan has a friendly attitude towards other dogs but needs more regular exposure to be able to focus on his obedience training. Hilary too is a friendly dog who in addition has the special gift of being able to help uncertain dogs relax in her company. We wanted to bring Lyra too but since she has just started her season we decided she had better stay at home this time. Hopefully the gatherings will continue throughout the summer and into the fall, and she’ll be able to participate later on. As always, Titan was very excited about meeting new dogs and was equally curious about the young puppy as he was about the adults. Since Titan has so far mostly met dogs that have been smaller than him, it was a useful experience to be around dogs his own size, and to meet some adult males that were larger and heavier than him too.
Hilary’s gentle ways always make her a favourite with people, even now when she is completely bald and looks “a bit of a mess” 😉
Besides the lovely Bernese Mountain Dogs, there was also a sweet Cocker Spaniel girl present, a spunky Chinese Crested Dog, and some cute terriers of different breeds too. What a great place for socialization! What particularly struck us was the positive attitude among the dog owners which created a positive attitude among the dogs too. A fun evening for everyone involved 🙂
Lucky boy Tuisku has been out two nights in a row; yesterday with Thunder and Leia and tonight with Titan and Gem. This evening we decided to try a new trail that we have passed by a couple of times when driving to the airport. It turned out to be a nice track for carting as it provided a good mix of running surfaces – everything from deep, soft sand to hardpacked gravel. The sand is good for building muscles and the harder surfaces are good for toughening up the pads.
Tuisku, Titan and Gem practising sit/down-stay during a break.
Our Mals spend a lot of time on soft grass at home so we’re careful not to run them on hard surfaces like asphalt too much. If a dog has sore pads we let him/her rest from training while adding fish oil to the food, as this product works wonders for both skin, coat and pads. In our experience, feet problems are less likely to return when treated from the inside with a quality Omega-3 supplement, than when treated only from the outside with various ointments. Luckily none of our dogs have real “problem feet” but we always examine their pads after every run, just to be safe. A good advice about feet is that if you check your dog’s feet often, you’ll know what they look like healthy and it will be easier to recognize problems when they occur. If a dog has cracked pads we clean and dry the feet and apply olive oil on a daily basis. If the dog is keen to lick it off we put an elizabethan collar on for 1-2 hours per day, before applying the oil, and keep the dog indoors during this time. We never use booties on the trail as a preventative measure, as they often cause more problems than they solve.
Hi everyone, it’s been a busy month here at Northernmost as we’ve managed to cram in a major building project, a visit from Marit’s sister with family, evening working activities, organizing a two-day garage sale plus intense bathing and grooming of the dogs during their peak shedding season. Where did the holiday go?? Here are some new summer shots of part of the gang 🙂
Some mixed pics of part of the gang, hanging out at home.
We have typical April weather here in Lapland – blue skies and sunshine one day, and heavy snowfall the next. On clear days we make trips to the mountains and when it’s snowing we work the dogs on the forest trails starting from home. Yesterday Fredrik took the 5-dog team out for a run while I enjoyed a lazy day in the cabin. After more than two weeks of daily working activities my legs are starting to feel a little heavy and it was nice to take a break from the trail, reading a book in front of the fire instead. We’re at the end of our winter and we have had a really good sledding season this year so I won’t miss Lapland too much when we head home this week. I’m ready to stow away sleds and skis and begin preparing for spring and summer! 🙂
Titan and Gem in wheel, Lyra and Hilary in the middle, and Tuisku in front. Tuisku has been working in single lead several times this season and has done really well!
Titan and Gem resting during a break on the trail.
We went for another trip in the blue world of the mountains this evening. The top layer of the trail was a bit soft from fresh snow and perfect for skijoring with skating skis. We had planned to ski down to Sioskuru but had to change our route as the trail was closed due to avalanche risk in the area. Instead we climbed to the top of Ounastunturi to admire the views of Enontekiö. On our way down we bumped into a group on mountain bikes who were going on a fell expedition on two wheels! Biking in the snow looks odd to me, but they seemed to have a good time. Hopefully the weather will stay cold during the next few days or else they’ll find themselves stuck in deep snow 😉
Yesterday I took the trio for a ride in the beautiful low fell area surrounding the village of Näkkälä. The temperature was around -2C when we left home but due to the wind chill factor it dropped down to -20 C about halfway into the trail. Must have been the first time ever that I wasn’t geared up for the weather. Dressed for spring, I was like a frozen icicle when we returned home in the evening.
My small team of Malamutes – Tuisku, Gem and Titan.
At least I didn’t have to worry about cold feet as I was wearing these fantastic boots. If you’re looking for something warm for next winter I can highly recommend the Swedish Jörnkängan. These boots are handmade and quite pricey but warmer than any boot I’ve tried so far.
Three happy tails 🙂