I’ve felt as though a post about conditioning was long overdue, but I wanted to really do it justice since this is a topic that fascinates me. I’ve always had an interest in fitness (though athlete I am not) and when it comes to canine fitness I was doubly interested. I’ve read plenty about building up the athleticism of horses but it was surprisingly hard to find anything on dogs. Over the last few months I gathered up three sources: Today’s Breeder, Dogs Naturally, and Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete.
We're studying hard to be the best!
The catalyst for all of this was the article Conditioning the Complete Dog in Purina’s magazine Today’s Breeder. It came in the BTCA Specialty grab-bag and, while the article didn’t have a ton of detailed information or instruction, it was interesting to learn what the pros do. I would call it more inspiration than education. It made me realize that if I want Wally to be a rockstar we need to approach shows like the pros. Just like a supermodel, Wally’s face and body is his career in conformation and just like Irina Shayk, it’s his “job” to keep his body in Cover-of-Sports-Illustrated-Swimsuit-Issue condition.
A couple months after reading the Purina rag I was waiting in line at Naturally 4 Paws and noticed the Dec issue of Dogs Naturally
. I had picked up and loved the previous month’s issue so I flipped through this one and discovered that the Winter Fitness article was actually about conditioning. Score! That article is where the idea for BOSU balls and peanut balls came from (I got the balance disc idea from Susan Garrett months ago). They also detailed a treadmill workout and tips for working your dog on the treadmill (like don’t use decline and keep it at 2-3mph).
After all these teasers I finally caved in and bought Zink’s book Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete
. Originally I wanted a hard copy but since they’re insanely overpriced I went for the Kindle edition, which ended up being just fine (books with charts or photos don’t always Kindle well). This book is by far my best resource and is a must read for anyone who wants a dog for a specific sport, particularly sports like agility or obedience. I would have never considered that a shorter-backed Corgi would be more successful than a longer-backed one, they’re just all long-backed to me! Anyway, this book is excellent for figuring what your dog’s body type is and two to best maximize his abilities while working with his handicaps.
This is destined to be a four part series covering everything from planning to actually doing it. And there will be a fifth, related post about using gymnastics to improve gait. In this case gymnastics would be ground lines and low jumps similar to what horse trainers use to train jumpers about collection and extension of the stride.
Up next…Before You Begin