Puppy Paws Episode 6 – On Duty

Hi, and happy spring from Denali. We
had a wonderful winter with our pups here as they were busy growing up and learning how to be adult working
dogs running with the rest of the big dogs on patrol out into the Park. We wanted to give you one final
episode of the Puppy Paws to show you what these guys have been up to in the
snow and cold all winter. Sled dog puppies are naturally born with a strong desire and an instinct
to want to run and pull a sled. But they still have a lot to learn in
their first winter. So these guys were busy figuring out how to wear a harness, how to untangle themselves from all the lines in the team, and how to run next to the rest of the
big dogs. (Who’s out of their collar?)Harness breaking the pups is always an entertaining process and the
success of the whole thing really depends on our ability to have patience with the puppies and to
laugh a lot with them as they try to figure out what’s going on with these new harnesses. The first step in our harness breaking training is canicrossing. Basically what we’re doing is I’ll wear a
waist belt and attach a puppy to me just walking through the tundra or on
the road. The puppy learns to wear a harness and it’s a really easy way it to introduce
them to the concept of pulling. Once the snow is on the ground we can
graduate to skijouring with them. This is essentially the same setup as
canicrossing but now we have skis on our feet. Everybody probably knows that Annie is a
very social pup. She’s always smiling and she thinks
everything is funny. So when Annie started wearing a harness she couldn’t really see the point of working too hard. (Come on Annie. Let’s go.) She just wanted to hang out with the people. So
our special training for Annie was to try and get her to pull forward in front of
the people rather than turn around and come right back to running next to us. Lucky was really
able to differentiate play time from work time better than
almost any puppy I’ve seen. And he was all business once he got a harness on him. He just wanted to run and pull. But Lucky didn’t
quite have the confidence to want to be the lead dog of the puppy pack so very often we had to have an older dog or his sister out in front of him. Polly
was always happy to be the lead dog of the puppy pack. She was definitely the smallest of her
litter of pups but she is the the most motivated of them in terms of
understanding inherently what it takes to be a great sled dog. It’s a really fun part in the process
when we add the puppies into the team with the big dogs. The older dogs are far better than us humans at teaching the puppies in their own language that commands that we are using. So when I say gee, (gee) that means turn right. When we say haw, that means turn left. Whoa, is stop. And let’s go (let’s go) is the command for going forward. (Look at that!) Thanks for tuning in and watching all of our
Puppy Paws episodes. We’ll see you down the trail! (Ready? Let’s go!) (Good girl).

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