Summer Training with Endurance Kennels

Summer Conditioning with Sprint Sled Dogs Before Snow Starts to Fall

DULUTH, Minn. – We’re still months away from popular sled dog marathons such as John Beargrease and the Iditarod, but it doesn’t mean time off for the animal athletes.

“They’re athletes, they’re extreme athletes,” said Tone Coughlin, Owner of Endurance Kennels.

With any sports, many say practice makes perfect.

“There’s nothing more that they like to do than run with their pack,” said Coughlin.

For Tone’s group of pups, practice includes hours of playtime in the summer.

“We condition the dogs in the summer but it’s a different type of conditioning. It’s a different type of training,” said Coughlin. “I’ll take seven to nine dogs out at a time.”

Come winter, he’s a busy guy; even busier, than now.

“It’s 27/7, 365. I’m here every single day and barely get away from the dogs but I just love it,” said Coughlin.

Many might never consider what goes on when snow isn’t covering the course, but Coughlin continues training his team even when warmer weather moves in.

“That keeps them in shape all summer just like human athletes, like football athletes have to stay in shape during the off season,” said Coughlin.

Free running allows the dogs to follow their human companion through the woods. Coughlin keeps them at a steady pace while driving his ATV.

“It lets them be really confident running at full speed because they don’t have their harnesses on,” said Coughlin.

He says it’s important to exercise the dogs early in the morning during the summer, before temperatures hit 53 degrees.

“The ground has varying terrain and obstacles so they learn to step over holes and things like logs and trees,” said Coughlin.

Coming up this winter, he hopes Mother Nature helps nurture his passion. The dogs are a mix of Greyhound, German Shorthair, English Pointer and Husky. All of them are specifically bred to race.

For the next few months, these lifelong runners will have a more relaxing schedule before snow starts to fall.

“It’s more fun in the summer. I let them be dogs so they get to chase rabbits and squirrels. We get to play fetch in the yard with some of them,” said Coughlin.

The dogs at Endurance Kennels eat a different diet in the summer.

They’re fed kibble instead of fresh meat, which is only fed to them during the winter.

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