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.
When we first start out in conditioning, we can easily become overwhelmed at where to start, which exercises to complete, how to best train them and what we can do as handlers to set our dogs up for success. It’s easy to fall victim to “information paralysis” and become confused and frustrated with all the information available at our finger tips. That’s why I took some time to ask the trainers and pro-canine conditioners in my Facebook group the Canine Athlete Pack for their number one piece of advice they wished they knew when they first started out. We got some excellent feedback and I wanted to share with you the most common pieces of advice they gave us and some tips that I have also found to be incredibly helpful over the years.
Does your dog struggle with over arousal?
Is your dog easily excitable?
Are your training sessions an exercise in patience?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are not alone! Over the past year, many of you have seen Miss Keeper on my various social media platforms learning and perfectly her canine conditioning foundation skills. What you haven’t seen is some of my struggles to manger her over arousal and keenness for everything in life. She is eager, full of life, intense and insanely drivey - all the things I want in my up and comer agility dog. Learning to harness this arousal when asking for prevision work in Keeper's canine conditioning ventures has taken some time to figure out and has led to some frustration times/sessions along the way.
In dog sports, you’ll often hear people talk about high drive as a coveted feature of top canine athletes but high drive dogs can be a LOT to handle! Learning to live and work with a high drive dog was something completely new to me and at times overwhelming! Over the past year, with the help of experienced trainers and friends, I have learned a variety of tools to help manage my excitable 10 lbs puppy!! With their advice I was able to change my entire mentality at how to approach everyday life and training (i.e. sport specific training/conditioning work) with Keeper to maximizes our success and limit both our frustrations! With new tools in my toolbox, I was armed and prepared for “most” situations!! As a result, my frustrations drastically lowered and we became a better team in life, sport training and conditioning.
So how can we have a high drive dog and still find success in canine conditioning? In this week’s blog I review some simple strategies that I have learned to help manage my dog’s arousal level in both the canine gym and life!