Health & Safety Of Your Dog
You as your dog’s coach are responsible for your dog’s health and safety. The safety issues related to scootering are:
- foot and nail care
- heat stress
- muscular/skeletal care
Foot and nail:
Mushers prefer to run their dogs on dirt. Pads can wear from running on pavement. When running dogs on the pavement they slow the dogs do a trot. Some mushers put booties on their dogs when running on crushed rock and pavement. Do not use dog booties in warm days and instead give your dog rest as dogs regulate their temperature by tongue, paws, and chest where is less hair.
Nails are an extension of the toe bone. If they are too long, they change the alignment of the toes when the foot lands and pushes off. Dogs get traction from their pads, not from their nails. Nails are too long if they click on the floor when the dog walks.
You should give your dog water about an hour or two before a race or training run. And after the run. Mushers often add special powders that speed recovery from muscle exhaustion. If your dog is well hydrated and you are only running for half an hour you might not need to carry water but you never know what can happen so it is better to take some water with you anyway. Common sense and awareness are key to avoiding overheating. In warm weather it is better to choose trails that run in the shade of trees.
Watch the tongue. It gets longer and longer as the dog needs to cool off more. When too hot, the tongue begins to turn blue. Avoid that! Stop, rest, cool, and water the dog before he gets too hot!
CAUTION: Before you go, as your dog’s coach, pay attention to the heat. Dogs can overheat and collapse when exercising on warm or humid days. Use caution when the weather is warm. Most mushers will not scooter (except on short trips about 1-2km) when the temperature is above 20oC and 15oC for racing. Make sure you do not run your dog on hot pavement.
Should your dog overheat, cool him immediately!
- Get him into the shade;
- from a water bottle squirt the water down his throat, onto his skin through parted hair;
- dip his feet and ears in a bowl of water
- if you can, get him into a pond or stream.
Depending on the severity of his collapse you may need to take him to a vet. Once the dog has overheated, he is more susceptible to overheating in the future.
The dogs/puppies should not be exercising too much before the growth plates as the ends of the bones complete their growth. In general, smaller breeds can start their training earlier than larger breeds. Small breeds about can begin at 1 year and larger breeds when they reach about 1.5 half years.