The Education Committee also offers other sanctioned educational programs which should be of interest to groups or individuals. This program focuses on observing the gait of your Siberian, and evaluating that movement based on the Standard. The following describes and activity, when done properly, clearly shows the tracking of an animal coming and going.

The Standard for the Siberian Husky clearly describes under the heading of "Gait," the correct movement of a Siberian Husky:

. . . The Siberian Husky's characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He is quick and light on his feet, and when in the show ring should be gaited on a loose lead at a moderately fast trot, exhibiting good reach in the forequarters and good drive in the hindquarters. When viewed from the front to rear while moving at a walk the Siberian Husky does not single-track, but as the speed increases the legs gradually angle inward until the pads are falling on a line directly under the longitudinal center of the body. As the pad marks converge, the forelegs and hind legs are carried straight forward, with neither elbows nor stifles turned in or out. Each hind leg moves in the path of the foreleg on the same side. While the dog is gaiting, the topline remains firm and level. Faults: Short, prancing or choppy gait, lumbering or rolling gait; crossing or crabbing. . . .

It is sometimes difficult for us to draw correct conclusions by observing this movement as the dog is being gaited. Ind the past, many of us used film and then projected it at a slower speed. This would clearly show (if filmed correctly) the movement of the dog and could be analyzed. Today, this is often done by video tape.

We have all noticed the tracks left by our dogs after moving through water onto a dry surface. It is based on this procedure, that the Northern California Siberian Husky Club developed an exercise to use as a group project. This was later presented to the Board of Directors of the Siberian Husky Club of America and approved for use on a national basis. It entails careful planning -- suitable location, dogs, handlers, and supplies.

Based on the idea of a dog tracking with wet feet, this exercise was developed to observe the foot falls of an animal and to determine whether or not it was single tracking, moving wide in front and/or rear, over reaching, under reaching, length of stride, etc. To do this, a large flat concrete area is needed. For each dog, a long strip of white butcher paper must be taped down. Each foot of the dog is dipped in a different color of water-based paint. Quickly, the owner takes the dog on a loose leash and moves it at a trot down the length of butcher paper leaving colored paw prints as it travels.

When the paw prints are dry, the paper can be rolled up and given to the owner who can examine the results carefully and compare with the following diagrams.

According to the Siberian Husky Standard, a Siberian Husky's pads fall on a line directly under the longitudinal center of the body. Therefore, a well-balanced and proportional dog moving at a trot, the imprint of the hind feet tends to cover the imprints of the front feet as shown.

Supplies Needed and Items to Consider:

  1. Location: For this activity, you will need a long, firm, flat surface; one which can temporarily be covered with dog's paint footprints. An asphalt parking lot or concrete sidewalk will work fine. It also helps for the weather to be warm and sunny--this allows the paint to dry faster on the paper.
  2. Attendance: It is a good idea for people who will be bringing dogs also to bring crates for the dogs. Additionally, although this activity uses water-based, non-toxic paints, it may take some amount of washing to remove the paint completely from the fur on the dog's feet. So, planning this event the day before a show might not be advisable. Also, make sure that handlers and helpers wear washable clothing.
  3. Supplies: You will need the following items: 1) A long roll of butcher paper; 2) Tape or something heavy to keep the paper in place; 3) Four different colors (red, blue, yellow, green) non-toxic, well-diluted, water-based paints (children's tempera works fine) in liquid form; 4) Four containers, one for each color of paint, suitable for placing a dog's foot in; 5) Water, towels, etc., for cleaning; 6) Scissors for cutting the paper, a marker for indicating owner's or dog's name on paper, and rubber bands for securing rolls of paper.
  4. Set-up: Because a running surface of butcher paper might be unfamiliar footing for many dogs, it is a good idea to set up a practice length of paper (about 40 feet) for handlers to gait dogs on without paint. You will want to set up a "staging" area which is kept fairly clean, where the dogs' feet are dipped in the paint containers. You will want to set up your roll of paper to be unrolled (about 40 feet at a time), used, cut, and replaced fairly easily. You will want to set up a "cleaning" location, with water and towels for cleaning the dogs' feet.
  5. Help: You can conduct this activity with as many or as few people as possible. However, adequate help makes it more successful. After the set-up is complete, two people can be in charge of the roll of paper--to mark, cut, and roll each dog's segment, and to replace with fresh paper. Two people work best for applying the paint to the dogs' feet--one person for each side. And, it is nice to have one person help the handler with clean-up.
  6. Activity: Each handler should practice with each dog prior to painting the dog's feet. The handler should gait the dog along the center of the practice paper, with the handler running along side of the paper. When the dog is relaxed on this surface, the dog should be moved to the staging area for application of the paint. Once the paint is applied to all paws, the handler should gait the dog along the paper. The dog should then be go the the cleaning area. Once the paw prints are dry, the paper team should cut the paper, mark the owner's or dog's name, roll the paper, and unroll fresh paper.
  7. Evaluation: Remember the Standard when evaluating a dog's movement, and do not expect the dog to single track when beginning to move. Look further along the paper to see the dog's movement as he picks up speed. Please refer to the attached PDF file to help evaluate your dog's movement.

Here are some illustrations to help you evaluate your dog's foot placement.

Trotting
While trotting (two-beat diagonal gait), according to our Standard, a Siberian Husky's pads fall on a line directly under the longitudinal center of the body. When a well-balanced and proportioned dog moves at a normal trot, the imprint of the hind feet tends to cover the tracks left by the front.


Overreaching
While trotting, the hind feet step beyond the imprint left by the front.


Moving Wide in Front
Front feet are moving wide, hind feet are moving on the center line.


Moving wide in Rear
Hind feet are moving wide, front feet are moving on the center line.


Last update of this page: 06/2009.

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 SHCA Sanctioned Education Program:
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