Dog Health & Safety in general
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 of really short distances) when the temperature is above 15 C. Make sure you don't run your dog on hot pavement.
You as your dog's coach are responsible for your dogs 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 pavement they slow the dogs do a trot. Some scooterers put booties on their dogs when running on crushed rock and pavement. Don't use dog booties in warm days and rather give your dog rest as dogs regulate their temperature by tounge, 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 also after the run. Mushers often add special powders that speed recovery from muscle exhaution. 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 is better to take some water with you anyway. Common sense and awareness are key to avoiding overheating. In warm weather is better to choose trails that run in the shade of trees.
Watch the tonque. It gets longer and longer as the dog needs to cool off more. When too hot, the tonque begins to turn blue. Avoid that! Stop, rest, cool and water the dog before he is that hot!
Heat Stress:As mention before be aware that dog scootering is high tense activity for your dog and in warm weather they can overheat very quickly. Should your dog overheat, cool him immediately!
1) Get him into the shade
2) From your water bottle squirt the water down his throat, onto his skin through parted hair
3) Douse his feet and ear leather into the water bowl
4) If you can get him into a pond or stream
Depending on the severity of his collapse you may need to rush him to a vet. Once the dog has overheated, he is more susceptible to overheating in the future.
The dogs/puppies shouldn't be excercising to much before the growth plates as the ends of the bones complete their growth. In generaly speaking smaller breeds can start earlier than larger breeds. Small breeds about 1 year old and larger breeds when their are about 1.5 year old. Always better to check with your local experianced mushers.