Does your agility dog have what they need to succeed?
The key to success at whatever level you are in the sport of agility encompasses many different factors. One factor that is well known to reduce injury and improve performance and happens to be in your control actually happens off the agility field and in the canine gym!
Think of any sporting venture you have attempted or currently train/compete at. Did you just do your sport-specific training, or did you have some other cross-training activities that you did to help improve your performance? Chances are, you completed specific exercises and workouts that would help to enhance and compliment your sport-specific training.
For the past month, we’ve been taking a deep dive into the sport of agility; reviewing the history of the sport, potential injuries and how to prevent them. In our final instalment breaking down the sport of agility it is time to review the role of canine conditioning. Canine conditioning (aka fitness training) is important for all dogs, but particularly for our agility athletes.
Do you know the best way to treat an injury is to prevent it from happening in the first place? Whenever we do ANY physical activity with our dogs there is a certain amount of risk we take on. Accidents happen, but that doesn't mean we can't be proactive and help to reduce our dog’s chances of getting hurt. So, what can we do as their training partners and biggest advocates to reduce their chance of injury?
In our previous blogs breaking down the sport of agility we took a look at the physical demands and the potential injuries that can occur in the sport. While the physical demands of the sport are high and the injuries our dogs can experience can be frightening, we can still do a lot to prevent an injury from occurring! In Part Three of our agility sport breakdown we take a closer look at injury prevention strategies and the simple things we can do NOW to help our dogs avoid getting hurt in order to enjoy a long sporting career. Let’s take a look at my top injury prevention tips for the agility dog.
In any sport our dogs compete and train in there is always a potential for injury. The sport of agility, however, has a high degree of physical challenge and with that also comes a higher risk of injury. As a canine physio, my personal view is that an active lifestyle far outweighs the potential risk of an injury. One key part of injury prevention is becoming aware of the potential injuries your dog may experience in their sport as well as aspects of the sport (e.g. certain movements or obstacles) that are known to cause more strain on the dog’s body. Knowing the potential injuries of the sport means we can better prepare our dogs to avoid injuries and begin to recognize the signs and symptoms of an injury while it’s still in the early stages. This is critical as it’s not always obvious that our dogs are hurt or injured. With any high drive sport, particularly in agility, it is often very subtle signs that point towards an injury rather than something obvious or dramatic (e.g. severe limp). Our dogs have a lot of heart and love for the game and slowing down (due to pain or discomfort) does not come naturally to them. When their adrenaline is spiked, these dogs can push through anything! Although this may be desirable from a performance standpoint, it is can make injury identification far harder!!
In Part Two of the Agility Sport Breakdown, we will review the obstacles and movements that cause more strain on the agility dog and then review potential injuries and the common signs and symptoms of these injuries.