In Part 3 of our series on puppy training, well known american stage/long distance racing champion Lloyd Gilbertson explains his system for getting a high percentage of pups into his adult team. Lloyd focuses on having fun with his puppies and explains the difference between harness breaking hound crosses and alaskan huskies.
Text and photo: Barry Siragusa.
Lloyd Gilbertson loves puppies. Many puppies have been born at Caribou Creek Kennels, and Gilbertson has put enourmous amounts of time into them all. He trains puppies in all positions including in lead and shares how he gives them the confidence to reach their potential.
You have harness broken a lot of pups do you still harness break all your puppies yourself?
As a matter of fact I will be hooking some pups for the first time today! Looking forward to the enthusiasm!
Wow! You are the first person we have interviewed who is harness breaking during an interview. What is your goal for harness breaking today?
Our main goal is to expose them and NOT scare them any more than necessary.
How do you avoid scaring them?
We keep speeds ultra slow and most often run them next to a calm adult. No hurry!
How many hook-ups will you go that slowly and run them next to adults?
We generally see good things right away and by the time pups have 6-8 hookups we can run many in a mostly puppy team.
A mostly puppy team? Do you run pups in lead?
We do run pups at lead. Alongside a calm adult and hooked so their nose is at the adults shoulder. If they do alright we continue to mix them in at lead. If they don’t get it right away we back off on that a little but make sure they get more chances later.
How old are the puppies when you harness break?
That age could be anywhere from 5-8 months.
Do you do anything to prepare them for harness breaking?
We have pups on chains for 10 days or so before we break them. They learn to give to the tethered pressure which helps at first hook ups.
What do you think is the most important thing for puppies to learn and experience?
Training is all about time on the trail and gradually increasing that time and going places that expose them to new things. Stopping frequently on the trail and getting and giving some Love is important too! Stay consistent with hook ups.
How often would you train puppies? Do you have a puppy training schedule?
Yes. On a day, off a day.
You are a well know breeder of both euro-hounds and alaskan huskies. Do you harness break them the same way?
Yes. I harness break the same way
Do you notice any differences harness breaking?
A few more of the husky types get it the first time I think, but by 3 hookups I see no difference.
How many puppies do you usually have in your kennel at any time? How many dogs do you have now?
We have twelve dogs from 12-18 years old. Thirteen younger adults and nine pups that we will harness break today. Oh, and a Labrador and two English Setters!
Lloyd Gilbertsen and his wife Mary operate Caribou Creek Kennels in Chatham Michigan. Lloyd Gilbertsen has run races at every distance with top finishes in Beargrease 300, The International Pedigree Stage Stop, The Diavik 150, the UP 200 as well as good finishes in Iditarod and many other races. Caribou Creek Kennels produces top dogs for any distance.
Visit Lloyd and Mary’s website.