Feeding the Beast (er, I mean your sled dog) #1

For the first time in years, I’m not feeding a bunch of sled dogs or making any long training runs— I’m on a 2-3 year hiatus where I can spend more time with my children (the Little’s), and aggressively pursue my writing career–but I wanted to start a series of posts that delved into the subject of sled dog nutrition, that discussed my overall philosophy and shared some of my insights (both what to do, and what not to do!) from over three decades spent standing on a pair of runners. This will undoubtedly end up being 6-7 posts, and I highly encourage questions/comments 🙂

This is a very large topic, and there is no way I’m going to be able to sum up my thoughts on the subject in one or even two posts, so I’ll start by just giving an overview and laying the ground work for a series of posts that will start with training/feeding and move to racing/feeding and checkpoint protocol.

First off, let me just say that whether we’re talking about feeding, training, racing or just plain old kennel management, I’ve never really been forced to ‘think’ my methods through quite like I am now. Because of this blog, I’m slowly but surely learning to sum up my thoughts in order to lay them out in a helpful and hopefully lucid manner that all of you in the audience will find useful, or at least entertaining.

Here are a couple of core values that formed the foundation of my feeding program.

It is better to feed a little less food then they think they need at any given time.

It is best to keep them guessing as to when food will be putting in an appearance.

With very few exceptions, anything less than individuals diving into their bowls will almost always result in food being whisked away IMMEDIATELY and not seen again for 6-12 hours. (This is more relevant in training)

The amount and type of food to be offered are dependent on the need, ie: whatever the workout and inclement conditions require.

There is no mathematical formula: I only count calories (very seldom) as a matter of academic interest. I make individual judgment calls on every single dog, every single day.

I recognize weight loss/gain as a trend and monitor individuals accordingly.

I keep things very simple in terms of supplementation, erring on the side of less is more. I like to make sure that I have enough different types of food in the larder come fall and cold weather that I can offer the team a similar mix of nutrients to my Iditarod food drops in March; 2 types of dry kibble; 2 types of red meat; 2 types of marbled fat; 1 blended fat; 1 salmon oil–and I play these foods like a musical instrument in terms of daily composition.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….

Image courtesy of H. Barron


3 Responses to “Feeding the Beast (er, I mean your sled dog) #1”

  1. Really looking forward to your thoughts/philosophy when it comes to feeding your race dogs. Hope to gain some insight into the art of it all specifically feeding to maintain weight and energy while on the run and in check point/camping situations. Thanks for taking the time to address such topics in your blog.

    • Thanks for the comment, Tim–I’m trying to strike a balance here on the blog, equal parts mushing & training/creative writing/feeding strategy/humor. Hopefully, over the course of time, I manage to answer all of your questions!


  1. More on Feeding Your Beast « Jason Barron's Blog - April 3, 2011

    […] on feeding (here is a link to a nutrition oriented post from a few months back that I started and never got around to […]

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