We’ve had numerous questions about the logistics of exercising the dogs during the summer. So I thought I would go into a little more detail.
We divide the dogs into groups of 6 to 8 individuals. Often there are siblings or team mates in the groups. (For instance; Sandy, Hotshot, Rambler, Lester, Scruggs, Viper, Willie went yesterday.) We have a walking schedule that we keep up to date in order to keep track of which group is next. We usually only walk one group a day.
We have a ATV trailer that hauls a 5 hole dog transport crate. It is usually parked in the middle of the dog yard. After breakfast and chores, we load dogs into the crate. We pull the trailer about a mile away from the kennel on one of our common mushing trails. Some dogs ride individually, while other dogs will double up for the quick jaunt. There is usually a lot of barking and excitement during the 5 minute ride. We then park beside the trail and unload the dogs.
Rambler cools off in the beaver pond; Sam rides in the dog transporter.
We walk away from the kennel for about a mile. The route is a muddy dirt trail. The turn around spot is a beaver pond. They can always get a drink there and only a few of them will swim. Sometimes we’ll see other dogs, horses, vehicles and wildlife. The dogs zig and zag, romp through the woods and race each other down the trail. They generally come when called and don’t get too far ahead of their human except when they know they are headed “home”. At the end of each walk, the dogs tend to race each other back to the ATV trailer. I guess that’s the “finish line” and they are race dogs, so we let them get ahead of us. Most of the time the dogs return to 'check in' before the humans arrive at the ATV. Sometimes they wait at the ATV and occasionally they load themselves into the transport crates.
Once in a while, we will put a GPS collar on a dog in order to document the mileage that they covered during the walk. Those are the orange collars in the videos. In general, dogs will cover about twice as many miles as their human counterparts.
We can walk dogs directly out of the dog yard as well. However, the predicament that we find ourselves in is at the end of the walk when they “race home”. There is no way a human can keep up with a racing sled dog. So, a half a dozen dogs would be back at the kennel mingling with neighbors, heads deep in dog food sacks and generally getting into trouble 5 minutes before any human supervision showed up. In order to keep the chaos to a minimum, we use the trailer.