Many things go into keeping your dog in good “condition” and how performance is improved. Improved performance can mean many things. Listed below is what I perceive as improving performance through handler improvements, strength improvements and increasing endurance.
BETTER: Handling is a huge key. How many handlers out there feel like they are the caboose on an out of control train when running a freakishly fast dog?? I know how you feel. I have been the caboose. Poor or late handling has an adverse effect on performance.
For example: When you give your dog late cues, they fold shoulders as they land turning over jumps, contort their bodies in all kinds of difference ways to immediately change directions, drop bars and land very hard on their wrists and shoulders, just to name a few things. Does this sound familiar??
If your dog is properly conditioned it will reduce the chance of soft tissue injury in these types of situations. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do everything in your power to give your dog timely cues and continue to improve your handling skills and footwork. Keeping your dog strong and balanced will help a dog during the training process as well as during those times when you just can’t seem to get there.
FASTER: When a dog is propelling forward, turning, stopping and landing using their core muscles (the center of their movement) and using all four legs, they will get faster. When you teach your dog where their rear feet are, how to use their limbs properly and exercises to improve strength, they will move with greater precision. Faster might also mean, improved focus for the game. Engaging your dog in a regular conditioning program has improved focus in my student’s dogs over and over.
If your dog has previously been lame for any reason, the dog is likely not using the previously injured limb efficiently and this will slow your dog’s momentum and increase their chance of re-injury. Teaching this dog how to redistribute weight and increase muscle in the injured limb is key to participating in any K9 performance event.
STRONGER: It has been proven time and time again, that strength improves stability and lends to increased endurance in human athletes. This same concept can be applied to your K9 Athlete. Using a variety of exercises on a regularschedule is the key to success!! Exercise that strengthen the muscles above and below the joints, will improve stability and balance. For instance, improving quad muscle strength and flexibility, supports a dog’s knees during movement.
Improving your dog’s physical and mental endurance will only enhance performance. Designing a regular program for your dog is the key to SUCCESS!! In just 10-15 minutes every other day, you can make a huge difference in improving your dog’s performance.
If you are interested in teaching your dog how to be BETTER, FASTER and STRONGER, contact me to get more information on my online classes, in person and online private lessons by video exchange.
Bobbie Lyons, Cert CF
Bobbie Lyons, CCFT, KPA CPT