I’ve heard about “Free Running” dogs for a while. It’s nothing more than taking a bunch of dogs on a walk. Puppies always get to romp about when they are young, but get most of their exercise in harness when they get older. Decided to let the new litter romp about a bit longer and give free running an honest try. The pups are almost 10 months old and still running together on the tundra. My friends Misty and Adam came along on a recent walk and snapped the photos above. Check out more of Misty’s photos at http://www.mistynielsenphotography.com/.
There are some obvious upsides to free running. First, it’s fun for everyone. They love running where they choose, sniffing, chasing, snarling, tackling, exploring and coming back to me for pets. They get great cardiovascular exercise without any mental strain, but plenty of positive stimulation. It’s all fun. Given the tundra always has water holes and creeks available before freeze up, they give themselves as many water breaks as necessary keeping it safe and avoiding overheating.
The challenges are primarily logistical. You can’t just turn a bunch of sled dogs loose anywhere you want. They are big, strong and full of beans when they start running together. I’ve been walking behind our house this summer and fall. It has worked fine with the litter of pups. They are getting bolder as they get older however. Sometimes they decide they’d rather visit the dogs in the yard and run home. There are other potential free running locations nearby. Those places would work well most of the time. My concern would be other animals joining the party. How would I ever get them home if they found a moose to chase and bark at? Can imagine a dozen dogs tearing into a porcupine? Yikes!
The likely answer would be to run smaller groups. It is such an enjoyable and effective means of off-season exercise that I will continue problem solving it through the winter and implementing something more substantial next summer. Right now it’s time to pull out the sleds