We have about 60 polar dogs in our kennel. To adapt to the climate they all live outdoors. During the winter they grow a thick layer of wool underneath the protecting longer fur. This makes them adapt to the sometimes harsh and cold winter. When summer comes, they loose the wool again.
The dogs live together in yards with small houses were they play and interact with their friends. This is a very social environment, and although the space is limited, they get much more social stimuli than without their pack. The houses are insulated and and cosy, but most often the dogs prefer to roll up as a ball and sleep directly in the snow.
Our polar dogs get fed once a day during off-season and twice when they are working. They get a mixture that is combined with high fat high protein pellets and salmon. To work hard they need a lot of water witch they get by a sauce of meat and water, through snow and when they’re resting, in bowls. They can drink up to 1,5 – 2 liters a day during winter and up to 5 liters a day during summer.
To avoid a lot of anger and accidents, we give the females birth control. This also lowers the male’s aggression towards other dogs. We use 2 – 3 females for breeding and try to have about two offspring’s a year. A female is never used for more than 3 offspring’s. A majority of our kennel is mixed breeds. We focus more on temper, endurance, fur (adaption for temperature) and speed than purebreds. The breeds that we use are Alaskan Husky, Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute.
The puppies have a congenital will for pulling. The trick is to help them understand why and towards what. Never scare them and try to avoid ending with failure. By making every turn fun and exciting for the dog it will grow to an addiction for the dog. I try to make this a 4 fundamental step:
1. Teach the dog to be leashed and make sure to calm him/her while doing it. In this step you can make a lot of god things for the future such as don’t bite, sit, lie down, “shut up”. Make sure that the pup doesn’t crave for your attention by doing wrong and getting attention for it -Sometimes it feels better to be disciplined then left alone! Don´t give up and reward the pup with his freedom.
2. Harness the puppy. Let him feel costumed with the harness and with no means – don’t let him bite it. No one likes a biter!
3. Feel some weight in the harness. Let the pup pull snowmobile tracks or something similar. Avoid using something that will scare him/her
4. Now put the pup amongst his team. I know that he will have a tough time figuring out why his pulled and therefor make him run alone, maybe not as wheel dog (I don´t want him to be afraid of the sled) but as swing is perfect. Mostly the dogs will start running immediate as his team members do. But on rare occasions you might have to run beside him to make him feel safe. Trial and error. Be patient and remain calm. Getting upset will only make your pup scared. I try to encourage when right and remain silent when wrong.
The lead dog
The lead dog is your steering wheel. He/she is no more an alpha then any other dog in the team. You choose the leader for his ability to pull, his endurance, his temper more than his ability to be alpha. We use easy to remember commands like left and right to steer, stop and slow down, in order to stay consistent. We don’t use the commands to make the dogs do tricks, its more a question of yes and no. If the dog does the right thing he is rewarded by pulling and anchored with your cheerful voice. The easiest way to train a leader is letting an apprentice run with a master. He will eventually connect the dots and figure out that the commands are equal to an action.