?

Log in

No account? Create an account

[icon] Adventures of the Miller Pack
View:Recent Entries.
View:Archive.
View:Friends.
View:Profile.
View:Website (Agile Minds Agility).
View:Agile Minds Agility.

Security:
Subject:Conditioning for our agility dogs
Time:05:38 pm
Do you have a regular routine to keep your dogs in condition?

How much exercise does your dog get from agility specific exercise versus other activies?

Do you regularly stretch your dog?  Massage your dog?

I personally place a ton of emphasis on exercise for the dogs, but not as much on stretching and massage.  I use stretching more for diagnosing imbalances, rather than as a preventative measure.  Massages are scheduled when I know they have been going at it pretty hard, and I want to make sure there aren't any problem spots developing.  (I do wonder if we should be doing more stretching/massage though, although not sure when I'd squeeze it in....certainly wouldn't cut back on the exercise to get it in).

So what do you do???
comments: Leave a comment Previous Entry Share Flag Next Entry


cedarfield
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-26 11:18 pm (UTC)
I've always placed more emphasis on free running and regular rest to keep my dogs fit and sound and mentally fresh. Of course, if they're doing a lot of agility, they need to do a certain amount of regular jumping to keep those muscles strong but I usually jump them one height lower than normal until a week or so before the trial.
I've never had any of my dogs to a chiropractor or given them a massage. I also don't stretch them but make sure to warm them up slowly and thorougly and then cool them out before putting them away.
But when all's said and done, I think the reason my dogs have had so few injuries is because I don't trial very much. I think the most trialling I've ever done is 2 weekends a month and that's only a few months at a time. Most of the time I average about one weekend a month.
(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-26 11:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, especially Mr James was always amazing to me. He ran as hard as he could and was ready to go at the drop of a hat (or was that at the drop of a tugtoy?) :) But Mr. Solid and Sound. For years! And I do always remember you taking time to warm him up properly and cool him down. I don't think it was coincidence.

What is it about trialing that you think is tough on the dogs? When I compare the standard AKC trial weekend to even just a 5 min practice session with Smitty, she does way more obstacles in that 5 min session than she does the entire weekend of an AKC trial. Now I do think several 3 or 4 day USDAA trials in a row are going to catch up with the dogs. But again, I think conditioning and proper warm-up can go a long way...

But I do wonder about the "pull out of the crate and put on the line" that I see at trials. Seems like doing this all weekend long could cause a strain on the muscles???
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


cedarfield
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-29 12:37 am (UTC)
I don't know what it is about trialing that may be the cause of problems but I know that with horses we never trialed them more than once a month (for the eventers and jumpers)and that was only for 6 months of the year. They also got "let down" for a couple of months in the summer when they'd get turned out to pasture with a couple of buddies to lounge around and just be horses.
So I guess my regimen has mirrored that as much as possible.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


outlineacds
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-27 01:40 am (UTC)
I roadwork my dogs and do either free running in the woods or ball throwing in the field. We also walk some. My dogs don't see equipment as much anymore because of my work hours.

At a trial I don't "warm up" as in jogging with the dog etc, but Carrie and I do heeling, practice a stay or two, we do tricks, and a quick rub down of her body before each run. After the run we have a quick celebration with treats then we walk for a minimum of 5 minutes.
(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 05:44 pm (UTC)
How much roadwork/free running in the woods/ball throwing do you do say on a weekly basis? How long have you been doing agility, and have you ever had a dog get injured?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


outlineacds
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-29 01:15 am (UTC)
It really varies with my schedule. I was roadworking everyday for a while. Especially when I didn't have much time for other exercise. When I roadwork I ride my bike and expect the dogs to stay at a steady gait for about 2-4 miles. We have a slow warm-up period and a slow cool-down period, but the actual distance I expect them to gait is for 2-4 miles. I only roadwork at night for a couple of reasons. First, if a squirrel is playing in the neighbor's yard, they can't see it at night and won't dart out in front of me, the other reason is it is just too hot during the summer to expect them not to get heatstroke. Free running/hiking, during school, I can do about 1-2 hours on tuesday and thursday. Right now, since school is out I can do 1 hr each morning. Of course, we don't go everyday, but thats mostly dependant on weather. If I don't feel like going out into the woods I might take them to play ball instead. We do ball chasing the least, and I havent done any since Rumor tore a ligament in her toe. She has been out for 3 weeks and we are just starting to build our routine back to normal.

Weekends vary. I work on Saturdays when I don't take off for a dog show, but on sundays we might go herding if our instructor is free or we do more hiking. They usually get at least two rest days throughout the week.

I have never had a dog get injured doing agility, I have been competing for 4 years now. The dog I compete with (Carrie) has never sustained any injury, but Rumor just recently tore a ligament in her toe while playing frisbee.

Also, Carrie is 7yrs old and Rumor is 2.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


outlineacds
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-29 01:24 am (UTC)
Wow, it really sounds like I do alot with my girls after reading this. I always feel so pressed for time, I work a full time job and also go to college part-time. I always feel I don't do enough with them. Some weeks we may not do anything. When Rumor recently hurt her toe I didn't do anything at all with Carrie. Rumor was on crate rest, and I just felt so lazy so Carrie didn't get much exercise.

I came to agility from conformation though, so I am all about having my hands on the dogs and feeling the muscles/body. I notice when my dogs feel good or bad and can feel the difference in my dogs and dogs who aren't conditioned as much as mine are. That's part of the reason that roadworking is my "go to" exercise when I can't do much else for lack of time or whatever.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


insanedogowner
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-27 01:41 am (UTC)
My dogs get lots of walks - especially in the winter when the pool is cold. I would not say that my dogs get their conditioning from agility AT ALL. That thought actually scares me. 3-4 times a week, the dogs get a hour plus free range walk/run. I throw the ball in the backyard 3-4 times a week. In the summer, we swim all the time.

Cinder gets massaged at trials and since Cindy is moving in to my guest house in Jan, she will teach me to massage all my dogs which will probably happen once a week (knowing my level of laziness...)

Older dogs (Cinder & Gale) definitely get warmed up and stretched before runs. No more just "leaping from truck into mad sprinting dash" for them. I should warm up the young ones but...that many screaming dogs on leash...

So - does that answer your question?
(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 05:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, thanks! Sounds like they get lots of exercise! How long have you been doing agility, and have you ever had a dog get injured?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


insanedogowner
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 06:41 pm (UTC)
I have been doing agility for over 10 years and only one injury in 5 full-time showing dogs through those years: Cinder got/has a bulging disc. Supposedly it's better now but I personally believe it was always be a management issue.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 06:49 pm (UTC)
Even more impressive to me that you've been able to manage the disc issue. I wish I knew 8 years ago what I know now...possibly could have prevented Cole's injury, who knows.

Injuries terrify me...do you think you know what caused the one injury?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


insanedogowner
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 06:58 pm (UTC)
Don't get me started. First off - showing too much. That was the year of the MACH, the ATCH, and the ADCH. You do the math. Also I think it's a combination of things: mainly her willingness to allow me to give her late calls and she will turn herself inside out to obey. My Aussies go "what? that was late" and put in another stride. Also think a 6"3" frame didn't help. And tight AKC courses (see my reference to late calls mentioned above.)

Now Cinder only does 2-3 runs a day and she gets massaged and warmed up and cooled down. And I worry all the time. I still stay away from frames as much as possible - if the seven is a frame in snooker, we do sixes :-) Since she is already qualified for PNS and PSJ for 2009, she doesn't enter those classes at all anymore - nor does she ever do standard anymore.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 10:53 pm (UTC)
Yes, but you are smart enough to learn from what happened and make adjustments. I too avoid the aframe with Austin when I can, as it's an obstacle that I think is hard on his body.

Thanks so much for sharing. You may help someone else from making a similar mistake.

Oh, to know back then what we know now, eh?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


insanedogowner
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 11:13 pm (UTC)
I wish I knew 1/10th of what I know now...

Oh well :-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


kinshipdogs
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-27 03:00 am (UTC)
I am lucky enough to live on the Snoqualmie River, and I walk my pups off leash there for a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 45 minutes on an average of 4 to 6 times per week. After all that trotting and running and up and down inclines, we play a few minutes of ball. If the weather is nice, the off leash walk includes some fetch in the river (although ducks will entice Osa into the water when it's cold enough for it to freeze into icicles as soon as she gets out--ice bear!).

About 2 to 4 times a week, I add a 5 to 10 minute training session indoors for each dog that includes tricks that require strength and balance. More for Taiko--the others do mostly silly fun stuff.

I am downright lazy recently when it comes to working my dogs in agility away from class. I probably average one or two sessions (of 5 to 15 minutes each) per week. I don't consider this physical conditioning, but rather a way to alleviate boredom and keep us working together as a team.

I don't regularly stretch my dogs, except for Osa before an agility run. I am more cognizant of her warm up too, now that she is getting older and I know she has joint issues. Osa also gets pretty regular chiropractic adjustments and bodywork/massage.

Overall, I'm sure I could do better with their conditioning, stretching and massage, but the same is true for their training, grooming, etc. I think what we do is a good balance of what they need and what I can do with the time I have.
(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 05:47 pm (UTC)
I always wonder if I could do better...and I'm sure the answer is always yes, but time is limited, unfortunately! I'm jealous that you live on a river! Sounds wonderful!!!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

biggmellon
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-27 05:53 am (UTC)
My dogs have always had a very busy conditioning routine- not just for agility as my routines started back years ago when I was keeping my Golden in hard working condition for the show ring. Now even though they are all retired from agility they still have the same routines- I really think it's one of the big reasons my previous dogs have done so well long into their senior years my big GSD was hiking & back packing in the mountains until he was 15.

They hike in the mountains for 4-6 miles 4 times a week, we walk in town 3 miles the other 3 days, in the summer months they also swim 3 days a week. Mostly we do all this because I love the walking, hiking & swimming myself:-)

After Ricky's injury I also added in the exercises from Get on the Ball, stretching & strengthening your dog. I did notice that he added much more core strength that the hiking & swimming didn't. I wish that I could go back in time and restart his career knowing then what I do now about the importance of stretching & proper warm up & cool downs!

(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 05:49 pm (UTC)
Wow, what a nice routine your dogs have! How long have you been doing agility and you mention an injury...what was it, and have your dogs had any others?

Also, can you tell me more about the Get on the Ball DVD?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

biggmellon
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-29 04:01 pm (UTC)
I've been doing agility for 10 years, my first 2 agility dogs were sensible dogs that were very well put together and I never had to really worry about injury as they would not easily do something reckless.

Ricky however is a kamikazi dog and he taught me the important lesson on warming up, cooling down & stretching. He pulled his Illius Psoas- he had a freak tire mishap where he jumped thru it looking sideways at me- his head hit the tire- his back end went thru first only his left leg caught on the tire and he did the splits with his back legs. He seemed fine- the vet checked him, we rested him for a few weeks and he seemed just fine.

His next trial was a month later and the vet gave us the a-ok, he seemed great- Q'd in his first run of the day- however it was a very cold winter day and I did not properly warm him up or cool him down- when I took him out of his crate for jumpers he was on 3 legs. His whole back & left leg were in spasm. It took 4 months of rest & rehab to bring him back.

The Get on the Ball DVD is just "ok", it gave me some good ideas but I didn't really like the way she man handles the dogs and how stressed out they seemed so I used my own training techniques to get the dogs used to the ball. But it helped knowing which exercises worked certain muscle groups.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


borderpap
Subject:Great topic!
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-27 06:22 am (UTC)
I play chuck-it with the dogs twice a day during the week, we train agility 2-4 times a week--usually a total of 15-45 minutes a week.

I try to herd a few times a week also, and let the dogs play with each other in the evenings. I should take more walks with them, and will work on that.

As for massage, Emma gets them at big shows and I will start to work on them in the evenings of agility shows to get them stretched out.
(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Subject:Re: Great topic!
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for replying...I personally LOVE this topic. :) How long have you been doing agility, and have your dogs had any injuries?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-28 05:55 pm (UTC)
To answer the questions for myself that I asked everyone that replied...

1) I've been doing agility for 10 years (oh-my-gosh, that's a long time!).

2) My first agility dog was my cocker, Cole. He ruptured a disk at 5 years old, and despite surgery and many rehab $'s, never returned to agility.

His conditioning routine was sporatic at best, and included lots of ball chasing. In fact the actual disk rupture occurred while chasing the ball (although it was degenerative, so was probably going to happen at some point, and wasn't just due to ball throwing).

I have Cole to thank for becoming more educated and focused on meeting my canine athlete's conditioning needs. He was extremely fast, driven, and focused, and in a heartbeat, all of that potential to excel in agiilty was gone. I don't ever want that to happen again if I can help it.
(Reply) (Thread)


rdrift
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-31 02:38 pm (UTC)
I've been doing agility for 16+ years now. My first dog had a *very* minor shoulder strain that took about 2 weeks to heal (caused by too many aframes in a practice session). And Drifter's had 2 VERY mild strains to his iliopsoas (groin) muscle in his career, both were completely healed (per our PT) in 10 days flat. That's it. My first dog was dysplastic as was my second although he didn't like agility anyway and retired early.

With my dysplastic flat-coat i used to do 20 minutes of roadwork with a bike a few times a week, but since then I've decided that the pavement is too hard on their joints (my PT agrees). Now I try to take two 1-2 hour walks in the park each week, mostly on-leash to keep them walking/trotting, with a few short off-leash bursts to flex their muscles. I make sure to include hills. Right now it includes mud. In the warmer months I try to swim them instead because the ticks in this area are major disease carriers. I also train agility about 3 times a week if I'm not trialing, twice if I am. And when my backyard isn't a marsh I let the dogs out to just run and frolick once or twice a day for about 10 minutes, sometimes I throw a toy, sometimes I just let them play. My yard isn't huge so no crazy greyhound racing type running, but its enough to move them around.

I also try to do some strengthening/stretching exercises every other day - standing up and walking on back legs, backing up stairs, sitting up to beg, etc.

Aside from the hikes in the park, none of these things takes more than 20 minutes or so. My training sessions are always short, like 10 minutes per dog.

Rosanne DeMascio
(Reply) (Thread)


rdrift
Subject:just wanted to add
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-31 02:40 pm (UTC)
I don't like to use "running" in and of itself as a conditioner because it's too hard on their bodies. By that I mean full-out running like a greyhound at a track. I keep that activity to short bursts and I actively discourage it at the park (I have to watch for hikers anyway).
(Reply) (Thread)


agilemindsmel
Subject:Re: just wanted to add
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-31 08:57 pm (UTC)
I'm curious, what do you think is hard about all out running? In my own personal training, our coach uses a combination of dynamic stretching/warm-up, weights, core, and bursts of high speed conditioning intervals.

Seems like a similar formula would be good for our dogs. And my dogs tend to mirror that type of interval training offleash in the woods, or when I bike with them on dirt roads.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


rdrift
Subject:Re: just wanted to add
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-31 09:59 pm (UTC)
Full-out running is the hardest exercise on the joints there is. Doesn't mean I avoid it altogether - like I said I just confine it to short bursts, probably like your personal trainer does with you. I've spoken at length with my PT (a well-respected one in agility circles) and she agreed. She actually thinks that some people who do a lot of hiking do more damage than good because some of those dogs are just running non-stop for hours.

When I am hiking, my goals for the dogs don't include sprinting muscles, in addition to which I want them in my sight because of other hikers and roads and such, so when i am hiking I discourage galloping. I do allow trotting, sniffing, cantering, etc, or a short run if they get distracted and lag behind me. And I certainly play fetch in the yard now and then, but my yard is only about 90 feet long, give or take, by about 50 feet wide, so they run, but they don't run and run and run fullout, they have to turn and slow down and vary the motions.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


rdrift
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-31 10:02 pm (UTC)
another thing worth mentioning is that if most of the exercise is from running free then the dog will almost always choose their more comfortable lead and stay on it except for sharp turns, meaning they will build muscle unevenly and become more resistant to turning that way over jumps
sometimes not an issue, but sometimes it is
(Reply) (Thread)

dancingpaws
Subject:conditioning
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-03 03:25 am (UTC)
We do regular hikes (weather dependent) over hilly terrain (usually about 2 miles, but sometimes longer or shorter), swimming about 2x/week in warmer weather, and sometimes 3-mile walks on the paved multi-use path (esp. if it's been raining a lot and hiking would mean baths for 3 dogs). In the winter, Emma gets regular ball work (intermediate level from Get On the Ball DVD). I don't seem to be able to maintain this during the summer, when I do more short, frequent agility training sessions outside in my backyard. All the other exercise I mention is in addition to any agility training we do.

Ball work is good for proprioception and core/postural muscles, but you would need a HUGE ball for a dog the size of Austin. My male GR is 24" tall, and I don't do that kind of conditioning with him. I'd need the largest size ball they sell, which is expensive, and difficult to store. Emma is betwen 21-22 inches tall, and she's fine with the medium size egg ball, which I found at Amazon for a GREAT price. It was even one of the puncture resistance balls, too.
(Reply) (Thread)

[icon] Adventures of the Miller Pack
View:Recent Entries.
View:Archive.
View:Friends.
View:Profile.
View:Website (Agile Minds Agility).
View:Agile Minds Agility.