Love for sled dog sport? Planning new dog?

I presume most of you watch the Dog Power Movie? If not, please watch it. It is only 25 minutes and it is defo worth if you are looking for a dog for the sport.

My story

I have been reading a lot around and hearing a lot of questions from people regarding hounds or greyster which are great breeds and dogs for the sport. I have followed a lot of groups and forums to get to know the breed but let me tell you my story first.

As you may know I started my adventure with canicross in February 2016 with Roger. Great pullying dog. I thought this will be an additional fun hobby we can do together. How wrong I was?! I was so hooked after my first run that I went home and signed for my first race in April 2016. Despite I hated running. Roger loved it and he was very tired that afternoon. Our first race was with CSS in Plean Country Park. It was very challenging and hilly route, but I loved it even more. That time I discovered that it isn’t just canicross that’s there but there are more to this whole crazy thing. Yes, I was hooked and excited. Literally, I was buzzing after talking to so many folks and meet very good athletes. I started doing my research into the sport.

First proper season

I have decided to compete around UK with Roger and see how things look like and where we stand. I discover that a lot of folks have pointers in the sport, but also dogs specially breed for the sport called eurohound or greyster. I always dreamed about having two dogs so I started to think maybe I could get a pointer and be a bit more speedy than just 22 minutes per 5k with Roger.

I started looking for another dog, that I thought could make me faster. I have trained every day so hard to improve my running. In September 2016 I have enquired about pointer puppy in Greece. To make whole story short Laferra arrived to Scotland in October 2016. This was my first experience with a pointer breed. I read a lot about that they are energetic and full beans, but later on I learnt what that really means. As I am qualified behaviorist I was very confident that I will manage no problem. Laferra was only 4.5 months old and not really house-trained. Personally, it was my first puppy that I needed to teach what is the world.

Basic training started from day one, as I really wanted her to be spot on with everything to make my life easier, as Roger being an older rescue is very high demanding (separation anxiety, behavioral problems and reactive). I always knew staffies don’t understand your personal space, but later I have learnt that pointers are even worst. So house-training became and it was smooth, she was one clever girl. On the other hand, she was a nightmare to be left alone or in Roger’s companion. Laferra was loving to chew two things: socks and plastic things. Constantly something was chewed and I started to worry that something might happen to her. I don’t believe in crates and unfortunately, that wasn’t an option (Roger hates crate so he has access to the whole house, so I couldn’t just close Lafie).

Back to basics

I have started saying to myself she is only a puppy so I presume she will grew up from this stupid chewing. Later on I discover others pointers’ owners had the same issues, but dogs grew up from it. Ok she is only a baby. Laferra learnt quickly to do her “business” outside (very quick actually) and her recall was brilliant! I trusted her everywhere and she wasn’t even bothered when she met a horse on our walk one day. I thought fantastic I have a brilliant pet that I can trust being let off lead!

She was growing super fast and Roger loved her more and more. I could see that he liked to have her around. However, every day coming back home there was evidence that she found something and chewed. I gave up on “5min per month” rule and started really making her tired on walks but also playing games like I do with Roger. You can read a bit more here. It started to work, she finally stopped most of the time, but she was growing and being tall she could reach to the places she shouldn’t be even interested in. The kitchen counter got hoovered so many time and I knew Roger was delighted with her being able to reach there as she shared everything with him. I still kept saying to myself she is only a puppy.

However, being a puppy and being a pointer puppy was a bit different. For Laferra one day of me being lazy (meaning not playing a game or proper long-running off lead walk), she literally destroyed things mainly my clothes: lines, necks, zips and so on. She was bored where I was hoping she would sleep.

Old enough for more running

In 2017 I have discovered bikejor so I started training that with Roger, but to get skills I started riding bike on my own. I thought brilliant as Laferra is great off lead I can take her with me and she could get the activities that she needed. She was old enough to start doing it and be my trail dog.

I was learning myself and building up my fitness but Laferra had the best time ever and she could go for a long time. Our rides were minimum of 10 miles every time we went out. I was gutted that Roger couldn’t join us, but tough life if you have a zero recall. Anyways finally princess stopped all the chewing and she was tired sleeping when left alone. You probably want to ask how do I know this? I watched my dogs on camera while at work, just to make sure they are not stressed. The only problem was that I couldn’t ride a bike everyday I needed to do something with Roger too.

Running around

Laferra learnt canicross, being a bikejor dog and pull the scooter around. I always thought Roger was high demanding, but he was tired after 20 minutes training, where Laferra could go again and always tried to play with him at home. I thought she is young so she must have a lot of energy, but at 19 months old now she has even more energy.

My life changed a lot having her, I wake up 4.30-5am to make sure I go out there let them off lead and let them run around before I head to work. Usually, they have a dog walker during the day who takes them for an hour walk which is usually off lead walk and finally in the evening we drive outside Edinburgh to train: canicross, bikejor or scooter, or just me running with Laferra being off lead. Only Friday is my day that I don’t do anything with the dogs in the evenings (well we clean the house, which is great fun with two barking dogs). If one day I am being lazy and ruin the routine I come back to chewed things! And Laferra isn’t a puppy anymore.

Note: Laferra doesn’t understand personal space at all as per below photo ( you wake up to this).

Sled dog sport

I started my story to show you that a pointer changed so much my life as she has so much more energy than Roger or any other dog really. She also made me super busy with making sure she gets rid of this crazy energy.

Now being in the sport for 2 years, I started looking and learning about those “special breeds” for the sport. There are a lot of folks out there with those dogs, a lot of forums and groups on facebook that talks about them. However, I felt it was just talks and people opinions, I wanted to know the truth. As you know I had a brilliant opportunity and qualified to go to the IFSS World Championship in Poland (you can read here about it). I met with so many breeders but also athletes who own those dogs. This trip allowed me to watch the dogs at home (I stayed with few in the same accommodation) but also I could watch them during the big event racing or just sitting at the stake out.

IFSS World Championship gave me the chance to meet so many those pretty puppies but also see those adult dogs in action. They all were fantastic, strong and very keen to run, no matter if it was canicross or four dog team. Fantastic to watch but I thought there must be something more to it. I started talking around and surprisingly people were happy to share their experience. I discovered that those breeds can vary in mix of the breeds they have already and this mix was changing the way dogs behaved. All those breeds are full of energy, and I knew this kind of dog means more than Laferra herself.

On forums and groups you can read how much they destroy and how difficult they are to be left alone in crate. I know different dogs are different, but people told me it is a tough life to own one of those dogs, they really need attention. In case of the greyster they also need some attention as they love being around people. After few discussion I can easily say that those dogs cant be just pet, you need to train them every day. Canicross isn’t enough for them, and also they are that strong that running in a harness isn’t an option for every day training, so you need to do a lot bikejor and scooter- be brave enough as the speed you can go is crazy. Couple athletes in Poland told me that if I ever decided on that kind of dog I will need to make sure I am prepared for life to change (and there was me thinking, Laferra changed my life enough), otherwise this dog will ruin my house no matter if it is greyster or eurohound. A few of those dogs are only one person dogs, so not really a family dogs either. A lot to take on board before you decided about them.

I am not trying to put you off! I just want that people realize that those dogs are pretty and amazing runners, but there is more to just looking pretty athletes! In my case, how would my dog walker cop with having a greyster on a group walk pullying him?! This is just an example. Do your research, it took me a year to collect all the facts until now and I am still learning every day about them. I use the opportunity to go to different events to spend time with those dogs and their owners. I love to get to know them and see how really different they are.

One more thing before you get bored reading this. Those dogs breed for the sport and there are a lot of wonderful breeders with a long waiting list, but to have a confident and super athlete you need to put a lot of effort and train it correctly! What’s the recipe? Noone knows and you can only try and do as I tried with Laferra (I am still learning that recipe!).

I hope you enjoyed this post and have a better idea! I would defo recommend doing your own homework. Laferra is only pointer, no more crazy breeds in there and one day I was thinking Roger is high demanding right?! There are a lot of things to take into consideration when willing to buy a sled dog and bring it to your house.

For now I just focus on Laferra and Roger, They are both great for the sport and I feel it is great progress for me. Starting canicross at 30min with Roger and going down to 22min and with Laferra down to around 19:30min. I think I am on the right track, slow progress and improvment. I have learnt a lot about other breeds for the sport and still have plenty to learn.

 

 

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.

This post will be all about training how when and why from my own experience and my own opinion what I would have done differently and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning

Let’s say it loud there is no one right recipe for how to teach the dog  how to canicross. There are a lot of  knowledgeable folks there who are happy to share their experience, but there is no right or wrong way. You need to find the way that will work for your dog.

Roger and his start was the easiest job ever! He is a natural puller, harness on, bungee attached and he is off! He is smart cookie so knows the commands very well. Yes, 2 years old dog and he knew very quickly what to do. Roger was just getting better with every training. I knew I could trust him 100% when running.

On the other hand, Laferra was a puppy when she landed on my doorstep. I had no clue what to do and why. I have search internet, talk to folks and really couldn’t find the perfect recipe for training the dog from zero. It was a really good lesson for her. Let’s start from the beginning then.

Puppy training

You look around on youtube, Instagram and facebook and a lot of top athletes from sled dog sport are starting training their puppies at age of 7-8 months. They run them for 0.5-1mile canicross or even bikejor. I felt for Lafie it is too early and I wanted her to be a puppy for as long as possible. Usually, the start time for dogs according to race rules is they need to be 12 months old for canicross and 18months for bikejor and scooter. I have decided to just make her familiar with a harness so she was running off lead with harness on. I also focused my training on 100% recall of lead as I knew I would train her off lead on bike for her fitness and take her up the mountains when I was out with my MTB pals. We did well there, she has 100% recall! I know you think: not a chance. Well, I have tested it with having fox, horse and deer on the way!

Older puppy

I was super excited to finally start working with her, but I haven’t rushed to anything. At 10months old, we started doing power walk with canicross equipment. She was all over the place. Comparing to Roger she was just daft. We continue that even tho it was very frustrating at times as she wasn’t really good at focusing and listening what I tell her. She just wanted to say hi and be best friends with every single dog. I have never tried her with Roger either, and I know some did. It worked for them, pro-dog teaching new dog. In my case, I wanted to make her confident on her own as she is very shy and submissive dog. We just continue the training, she was more interested in birds and stops when she could cuddle with me. It was frustrating every single time. Now I only laugh at it as she is such a baby.

My teenage dog

She turned 12 months and we started doing more during the run, which was much easier than power walking due to that there was less time for her to get distracted. Finally, she started to understand what is this all about. Training was going really great until our first race! Our first race (first race report is here), Laferra thought we will do exactly what we did at training and we will stop for cuddles. Oh! Princess, we need to run to the finish line! Not successful but we finished our first race.

Racing

Although training was going well I discover that she didn’t understand the 5km distance and stop at the finish line (not when she felt like it). I realized all this few months I did it wrong. I didn’t build her for distance. Don’t take me wrong, she was fit to run it or even longer. It was just her head not ready for 22 minutes constant run or even other dogs on the trails. She was 15 months already so I really felt like I wasted time. It was time for changing the game, or at least I thought I did. Another race and unfortunately another fail (you can read here). We didn’t finish the race and I never give up. I was devastated and very upset that I really tried to prepare her.

I had two months to make sure she is ready as I already committed to going to IFSS World Championship (you can read about it here). After few days having a break from all the running, I sat and wrote a plan.

The new plan which changed the game

I knew that my dogs don’t care about winning or loosing, they just want to run with me. I just couldn’t disappoint them myself. Laferra and I started building up the speed and the distance at that speed. We ran 1 mile! Next week we did 2 miles and so on. I started doing more of 1-2miles with her on scooter or bike. She was loving it. Eventually after few years saying I will never go to parkrun, we went to parkrun and ran it. It was amazing to see how she cops with all the people, noise and distraction.

She was just amazing and I could see all these worked for her, which showed at the World Championship that it was all worth the patient. The time we spent together also build fantastic bonding between us. I have learnt one thing, if one training doesn’t work try something different. Dogs are different. She loves running and her harness.

Reward

Yes, I had an easy life with Roger, but the most rewarding with Laferra. I feel very emotional when we go out there and race. She just loves it. It isn’t always perfect, as you always learn something new right?! Sometimes we go back to basic or a small thing makes her distracted. However, at only 19months coming all the way from Greek streets, she really grew up to a fantastic “sled dog”. I am looking forward to our future and more competition. We both have fun and that what’s matter most.

What I would do different?

I think this time I would make sure Laferra is more familiar with wheels from early stages of her life. Even just putting it near her feeding place. She is brilliant MTB and with scooter, but she isn’t 100% sure about bike. Probably also would make her more familiar with hydration after training as she hates drinking water after training or race (no clue why). Finally, I would defo allow her runnning free when I did training with Roger on wheels or just canicross. She would have watched the wee pro doing it perfectly. Maybe this would help me to have less time being frustrated.

I probably wouldn’t attach her to bike or just run with both of them, but would defo want her to see more of Roger in action. Maybe two dog scooter one day! I presume she would love to have Roger with her during training now.

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http://yourlux.com/salon/images/ Note: here are other posts which has some tips on training.

 

 

Training training- what’s important in the sled dog world

I have been in sport 2 years now and I can’t believe how much I learn in those few months and how many new friends I have made. I would like to share with you my own experience what to do and why you should train it with your dogs. Note: this is only my own opinion, experience and knowledge.

The start line

There is more then just to go to start line and get ready for your run. If your dog is like mine, you need to control them well as Laferra could easily give me the penalty. Roger on the other hand like to sniff, pee on everything and say hi to every marshal around start line. This is important. I try to keep my two near me and just let them go on “go”.

Saturday 08.01.18 British BSSF Series 1 – 2.

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Surprisingly as per video, we did brilliantly at the start at BSSF race.

The finish line

Agata finishing on Saturday BSSF Race 1

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

As you can see from video at a lot of events there are those mats and funnel to the vet checks and RM. Laferra was funny about any noise or people at the start line but mainly finish line was a struggle. I went to parkrun as the funnel is getting narrow and there are folks standing around. It is defo something to train to make sure your dog finishes confidently on a tight line which isn’t always the case for us.

On the trails

At the IFSS World Championship, we have a lot of distraction on the trails: talking people, photographers very close to trails or even halfway through a person with a walkie-talkie and beeping machine to check athletes. This is challenging to practice, but we went to Christmas Parkrun and guess what, we passed many marshalls with bells around. Great practice for Laferra.

On the other hand on the trails, you can catch another athlete or be caught by another athlete. Roger has no problem with these at all, however Laferra as a sensitive soul has a lot of struggle with this. She likes to overtake and go away, but she hates when someone catches us and sticks to my heels. She is better than she used to be, as in past she would totally lose her focus, where now she continues to run but she keeps looking at me and the person/dog behind, which means she doesn’t run 100%.

Overtaking

This is one of the challenges while on trails. Most races on the first day aren’t staggered so there is big chance you will get caught by fast one or you will catch slower ones. Laferra is brilliant in overtaking, not even looking once at the dog, but she sometimes struggles when being overtaken. She likes to say hi or look at the other dog, which isn’t ideal and could potentially take as to be DSQ.

Training

Training is there to do mistakes, but sometimes it is just hard to prepare for anything. From where we have been with Laferra in September to where we are now is such a difference and I believe I did great training with her. We are upgrading to more training on wheels now, which means she doesn’t have as much time to think about things around. Hopefully, this will give her even more confidence when out on trails.

source url Happy training and practising.  

The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle

Sometimes weather interrupts your training schedule, or at least it does mine at the minute with all that snow around. Walking dogs is a pain on those icy paths, so I am not even thinking of running.

Praying for weekend

Although it snows and it gets a bit icy, I am praying that for the weekend it all will melt. I love snow, don’t take me wrong, but it doesn’t really help us. Maybe I should consider buying a sledge?

Dogs are loving the free running, but it is time for some harness work. We haven’t done harness work since Sunday with Laferra. Roger still off harness due to his rubbed belly.

I miss running my wee buddy. Roger, soon you will be back in harness. I bet he will be super excited.

Anyway back to the topic, so due to weather I have plan A and plan B.

Plan A: working with dogs.

Plan B: parkrun on my own and dogs again running free.

Let’s hope for Plan A right?! Hah

BSSF round 2 (race 3 and 4)

Oh, how exciting I am about this. The entry is open and I decided to do two classes for a change. I will get warm-up on bikejor and than canicross later. Super excited!

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If you are looking for something different than just canicross event, this is a must. You can see big teams and mushers going out. I have learnt so much during those events that I really recommend it to everyone. The competition brings the best athletes in the UK to one venue to compete with each other.

Races schedule

Until February, we just train and have some fun with dogs. It looks like it is a bit quieter with races than it was last year. Probably my choice as I am more picky about the events too. However, already planning our trip to France in may. That’s us booked accommodation and hopefully soon looking at ferry prices. How exciting? We are going abroad again.

Exciting news

Hopefully next week I will be able to share fantastic news with you. Keep an eye on our blog and facebook page.

 

Passion first and everything will fall into place

That is the 1st season of Scottish Championship finished with Laferra. We didn’t get on the podium, but she is a champ for me. Overall results from the season aren’t out yet, but I think we have managed to get to 6th or 7th. Our category is very tough and the biggest (16-39). However results don’t matter, I realised different things this season.

New season new dog

When I started canicross 2 years ago, it was brilliant as Roger was natural in pulling and focus. It was easy and much easier to focus on my own improvement. With princess Laferra the whole canicross changed the game for me. As a very shy and submissive dog, I had a lot to work with her. She never pulled when walking on a lead and prefered to stay as close to me as possible. I was back to basics which I didn’t have a clue what to do. There was no recipe for the successful “sled dog”. I couldn’t find videos or books about how to train a puppy for canicross. I could only try and fail or win.

Back to basics

I asked around, I watched around and choose what could be good for me. She was very shy and I thought I am jumping into the deep water with her by taking her to the IFSS World Championship. We trained hard preparing her for different things. We did well, however, last weekend proved we still need to work on small things and every race or training are lessons for us. Laferra is very sensitive and mummy’s girl so any small thing can affect her. I love that about her and it is the massive challenge for me to make sure she loves canicross and has fun as much as I do (well sort of 😉 ).

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What did I learn this season?

I have learnt a lot as I wanted to make sure she is ready.

  • sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
  • train as much as you can in a different environment.
  • train as much as you can with different dogs around.
  • love them.
  • praise them.
  • have fun.
  • one step forward might mean two step backwards.
  • never give up.
  • learn from mistakes.
  • build strong bonding with your dog.
  • have a lot of passion and love for the sport and your dog at the same time.
  • have some break and some fun from trainings too.

Last race of Scottish Championship

Yesterday race at order buy Quetiapine online Muiravonside Country Park was tough: hilly, twisty, technical and very muddy. I knew what to expect as I did it last year with Roger in 26:49 min. It was very tough. I promised that if it will be to tough for Lafie, I won’t finish and wouldn’t take part in Championship as I want her to have fun. Oh wow! She was doing so well, listen to my command “steady” even tho I have never taught her that one. We worked on every step together and surprisingly Laferra had a blast even tho she doesn’t like mud. With her lightweight, she was quick through it and just looked at me with a wagging tail. On flat part, she was really keen to go. At one point I thought I got lost as we didn’t see anyone in front of us or behind us! Oh, well this was great and perfect for us just to be together and having fun sliding around. She really made me proud. Just 19months old and I still think sometimes she doesn’t have a clue what she should do, but she is an amazing dog and Roger’s best friend.

Looking forward to more adventures and races with her. She is a wee superstar and she did teach me a lot of new things.

Season hasn’t finished but I am looking forward to future races in Scotland and further away.

Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.

We have spent a lovely weekend in Wales. It was the first qualifier of BSSF National Champs for Sweden in November. My sat nav chose a historic route for me so I drove 200miles out of 400 miles on windy and twisty roads. it was great to see how beautiful are Wales and Scotland, but I defo changed to motorways on the way back.

Day 1 BSSF National Champs

Pembrey Country Park is a beautiful venue. I have walked the trails on Friday night and got really excited for all those turns and twisty paths. The distance of 3.8 miles scared me a bit as there were tiny hills on the way to finish too. All night I was thinking if we can do it.

The first day we had draw starting times, which meant a lot of overtaking by the speedies. When you are overtaken by one it gives you a boost to go faster, but by 4th person, you start to feel sad and a bit down. Do I really go that slow?

The trails had everything: grass, sand, hills, downhills, turns. narrow paths. It was an amazing test for Laferra to see how she is really with her directions. Surprisingly she did really well. She ran confident and didn’t look twice at dogs that overtook her. We have finish first day in good time of 24:25 min. Not bad for the distance that we don’t really train for.

We have finished our racing day with an amazing walk at the beach. Roger and Lafie could play with their new pals.

Day 2 BSSF National Champs

In the early morning, I have decided I need some time off from everything and everyone, I took Roger for a walk to the beach. Oh, that boy loves the beach. Roger really loves having me just to himself like old times.

I felt tired after Day 1, but we got to start line and I really felt my legs, however, I kept saying to myself I can do it. Unfortunately, we had few problems out there on trails, I really wish people read rules and all the emails that BSSF actually sends out. We lost on the 8th place by just 5 sec. Gutted is the word to describe how I feel about it. On the good note I try to think of positives: a few weeks ago Laferra would probably stop running in a similar situation. This time she kept going, maybe it wasn’t 100%, but she kept going. We got to the finish line but we lost one place by 5 sec. Lesson learnt and I will try to practise it as much as I can. At the moment I feel like I need a short break from running, but dogs will continue training on wheels. Here’s to bikejor and scooter training.

Sometimes things aren’t going according to plan. Laferra is young and she is still learning, but the most important thing is that she loves doing it. She is one happy dog.

Wales done!

That’s the first British National Champs done. We have met so many puppies out there! It was great to see my two actually being very gentle with all of them. Bring on hard training and England in over a month. Actually, bring on training! New training plan in!

Bring on 2018

Ok so we had a look what we did in 2017 it is time to look what we will do in 2018. So far it doesn’t look that busy yet.

January

We are away to Wales this weekend for our first qualification for IFSS ECh in Sweden which will happen 24-26th October in Nybro, Sweden. Apparently Pembery is lovely, so hopefully, it is worth the drive. Roger is suffering from an allergy so rest for him.

A week after that we are away to Muiravonside Country Park for another Scottish Championship race. I think Roger might run this one, but it all depends on his allergy.

February

I am planning to attend D&A time trial in Tentsmuir and check how we progress in 4 months with Laferra. Lovely place for walks too.

The middle of a month is taking us to England for BSSF National Championship, which is a second part of the qualification for Sweden. Another long trip for some great races. We loved it last year.

Laferra was still a pup, but during that trip, she proved she is an easy dog to take on travels. That was when I knew if we managed for Poland, she is going (and as you know she was a great companion).

I am tempted to fly to Italy for races on snow at the end of February. Of course not to compete but just go and watch it.

March

I might go and do one of SDAS races in Ford (all depends timing).

As per our tradition, we always did Plean race, as that was our first race ever with Roger. This year we will miss it as we are away for third and last BSSF National Championship somewhere in Scotland.

Our Easter weekend this year we will hopefully spend at one of the Midlands Canicross Series. Four days of racing in different classes.

April

We still be at Midlands races but also we are away to CSS Strathallan Castle races. As last year plan is to do canicross and bikejor.

May

We are away to France for the weekend. Yay super excited about this.

 

Oh yes there might be more to come for sure! But that’s all that I have defo planned and put in our calendars. Actually it looks busier than I thought. Happy racing yay.