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How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Dogs, dogs and even some cats
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How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby ChicagoMike » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:47 am

I have a 6 month old chocolate lab puppy who is built like a tank. He is very strong for his age and he will be a big dog (90+ pounds, currently 50lbs), but he is still a puppy. I love to back country ski and tour and I want to get him up there as well. At what age can I start getting him on the trail? Is he too young right now for an easy ski tour? Like anything with a puppy I figure the earlier he gets comfortable with a situation the better but am I pushing too hard? Experienced advice needed. Thanks

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby Waggs » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:13 pm

Probably a question to ask your veterinarian.

When I started working with my lab, the doc said that I should wait about a year before doing anything serious to give bones and joints time to develop. Doc also said that when my pup is full grown (and he is now at 80lbs) he'd be capable of packing 2 six packs, and I found that most agreeable.

While he grew, we did many on and off leash walks around the neighborhood, as well as trips to populated and unpopulated trails.

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby tlongpine » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:15 pm

In my experience, you have to build a dog's endurance overtime. IE, it's not necessarily about the age of the dog, but rather it's physical readiness.

I'd start him with progressively longer runs, rides, etc. If you're attentive, you'll know when the dog has had enough and is ready to quit.
I am unable to walk away from the mountain without climbing it. An unclimbed mountain tugs at my consciousness with the eternal weight of time itself. Until I've pressed my face into it's alpine winds, hugged it's ancient granite walls, and put it's weathered summit beneath my heal I'm unable to resist it's attraction.Knowing nature gives the mountain more time than she gives us adds urgency to the obsession. As has been said before; the mountain doesn't care.

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby ChicagoMike » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:33 pm

Thanks all good advice. I don't really intend to take him on a death march but my intention is to really get him comfortable around skiers and work on his come/ stay / running along skis skills as mentioned above. Do you think I should start with booties and train him young or just his bare paws. I have skied with other dogs before and I know they can have problems with snow between pads.

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby pills2619 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:05 pm

any puppy will most likely be fine on the trail at any age. What you need to consider is every extra mile that the puppy goes beyond what his/her daily exercise requirements are will more than likely stunt the growth of the dog. this is really the only thing to consider because a young pup will simply lay down or stop walking if you are pushing it to hard. So I would say that it is completely up to you but do consider that the dog will not stop growing till about a year of age so I personally would limit the dog to just basic walks and easy hikes especially considering that labs and specifically chocolate labs (tend to be more inbred) already are prone to hip and joint problems. I know the feeling of wanting to take that young pup everywhere you go but if you relax a little bit the first year you will see the benefits in the later years of the dogs life when hes not just your pup but your best friend also. happy hiking and good luck with the lab, great dogs...

and regarding skiing, we have an 8 month old German shepherd that we are going to limit to two runs on loveland pass until march or april when she is fully grown. She could probably do a little more but given the increase force on the dog when running down steep slopes we decided it would not be a good idea.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby ironman11 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:03 pm

Waggs wrote:Probably a question to ask your veterinarian.

When I started working with my lab, the doc said that I should wait about a year before doing anything serious to give bones and joints time to develop.


I agree, any vet will tell you to wait at least 1 year to do anything serious. Especially any kind of kind of running or pounding for an extended period of time. They say that it takes about a year for the bones to fully develop. I am a runner and didn't start my dog until 1 year. You can definitely get him out on the trail though, socialization is key when they are a puppy. Good Luck!

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby Derek » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:13 pm

Rufus started with me around 6 months. Younger than recommended, but it was mostly off trail, under 8-10 mile hikes. Never had issues, still loves going out. I would avoid sharp rock/talus until he's hiked a while though. Even then, I'd get booties. That is the only time Rufus has had issue. (Minus the time we hiked the day after his shots....but that was his dumb owners fault.....)

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby stonebaez » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:42 am

From when I was looking into taking my young dog out, the feeling I got was that you should not take your dog out before they are near their target weight. If your dog is only 50 lbs now and expected to be 90 lbs, you may want to stick to shorter routes for a while (3-5 miles). Past a year old, I don't think you would have to limit at all. You won't be able to tell if it makes a difference for several years, but he may be like my old lab who barely could walk past 10 years old. Just my opinion.
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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby mbourget » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:46 pm

I would also agree to wait til your pup is 1 year old. I made that mistake with my lab and took him out for some short (<5 miles) hikes at about 6 months and he ended up getting a bone spur in his shoulder which required surgery and about $2000. Vet said he sees that fairly often with large breed dogs who grow very quickly and are very active.

I would wait at least a year but that's just my experience.

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby zoriloco » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:44 am

I would also suggest you dont bring him out until you are completely sure the dog acts on command.

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby TallGrass » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:05 pm

zoriloco wrote:I would also suggest you dont bring him out until you are completely sure the dog acts on command.
Isn't that what a leash is for? :roll:
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: How young is too young for puppies on trail?

Postby pills2619 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:23 pm

Don't use a leash unless near roads. they ruin the fun for you and your dog. People who bitch about leashes have some fear of dogs which they should get over or they are not familiar with the mountains or they are just old and grumpy(old and grumpy might as well be dead or in a nursing home, old and happy is whats up...) The one rule of thumb is yes its your job to make sure that when that person bitch's about your dog, make sure your dog doesn't do anything stupid... and if your dog is actually a menace, thats a great time to keep him on leash. And please don't start complaining about this... you just sound 1. old and grumpy 2. like a whiner who can't get over there fear of mans BEST friend (omg its Godzilla!!! oh wait its just wiggles...) or 3. A foreigner to this land; a good test for this one is whether you gear cost adds up to more than the money you spent on food and gas and beer actually being in the mountains.

sorry thats a little off topic but I've been pissed at this one a$$hole for a while now and I'm tired of the number one complaint about dogs being off leash is that people don't want to be bothered by them. Thats not good enough for me when we spent 7000 years of eugenics creating animals that want nothing more than to run around and work hard and listen to their masters.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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