Sunday, December 26, 2004

Temperaments

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Sorry for not posting in a while, got kind of busy.
I have been learning about the different temperaments of my dogs as well as my own temperament. Some of my dogs are quite sensitive and others very hard headed, like Jack. When things don't go well and I get frustrated I tend to yell and this makes things worse. JJ especially, gets upset when I yell and that is why she wants to bail out. I noticed this the other day, when I yelled at Jack for causing a tangle. Yelling doesn't seem to phase Jack at all but, it apparently upset JJ and she decided to try to drag the team over to her house while the sled was tied to the truck. The fact that she almost accomplised it from the wheel position with five other dogs hooked up facing the opposite way is a testament to her strength and determination.
So I decided from now on to really try to maintain a calm demeanor. Many of the dogs key off of this. Pumpkin is also a very sensitive dog. I would say Ruger and Strider are about even as far as sensitivity, not really hard headed but not too sensitive either. Doppler is a bit sensitive, Jack on the other hand is a really confident, cocky dog. Personally, I prefer the more hard headed temperament. That temperament reminds me of my German sheperd that passed away. Police dog people prefer hard dogs. Hard dogs can take a serious reprimand and it won't take the wind out of their sails. If you think about the types of people that train working German Shepherds, many of them are big gruff former cops and this type of temperament meshes well with their personality.
Alaskan huskies, especially lead dogs, have a tendency to be a bit shy and sensitive. Many mushers prefer this type of temperament. This is called a "soft" temperament. These types of dogs are easier to train. They really want to please their master and if they feel they have done somthing wrong they feel bad. They are eager to please.
Jack on the other hand, is a very hard headed dog. The thing about him that is so amazing is that he is a pretty good lead dog and this is his first winter in harness. He just has a lot of confidence. He is very hyper and unruly too, but when In put him in front of the team he is a natural. He likes being in front and he is a fast learner. If he were a kid though, he would be the kid that was labeled as having ADHD. The kid that can't sit still and causes a lot of trouble in class. He is a chewer, it is really ard to put his harness on. It is really hard to bring him up to the line. I have too hook him up last, he used to wrestle with the dog next to him with his former owner during fall training, but as he gains more experience he gets better and better.
He pulls hard and he really likes to run.
I think in many ways, as I have said before,he is a throwback. First of all he is not built like a fast racing dog. He is short and stocky with a big fat head. He likes to sleep outside his house. A few days ago it was 30 below zero and he slept outside his house on the ground. When I came out to feed the dogs he had frost all over him. He has this one spot where he curls up in a ball. The snow has melted and there is this little hole.
Alaskan huskies have changed over the years from having, other breeds crossed in like Greyhounds and other things, plus there has been selection over the rears for racing traits. The more old fashioned dogs like Malamutes and inuit dogs are harder headed. Later in the winter I plan to get together with some freighting people with these types of dogs, it will be interesting to observe their personalities.
But whatever kind of dog you run it is best for the "lead dog" (the one behind the sled) to have a calm demeanor and act in control at all times, it makes for a more positive experience for all.

3 Comments:

Blogger Annie said...

Yep. I don't think it is a good idea to yell at JJ. I got a great laugh out of that one. You're busting some of my long held beliefs about sled dogs from the old days when I read the Jack London books. The old dogs sound like they were really hard.

December 27, 2004 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Theo_musher said...

Annie,
I am glad you are enjoying my blog.

Well, I have to yell at JJ a little because she is disobeying. Pumpkin is actually the one I shouldn't yell at at all. All it does is cause her to freeze up.
Most of the dogs need some type of reprimand or one form of discipline or another. It just has to be controlled so I maintan discipline and also inspire confidence in them.

The thing JJ is going through I think is that her last owner knew what he was doing and she got attached to him and his way of doing things. I am the new Guy that seems to be a screw up. Kind of like a pro-athlete getting a stupid coach when he gets traded out to a farm league, or somthing like that. Its a learning experience.
Got a new blog up yet? How was your Christmas?

Ted

December 28, 2004 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger George Forgan-Smith said...

Interesting... I am still looking for a great alaskan malamute breed do you know of directory or something?

March 31, 2006 at 6:59 PM  

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