Agility, dock diving, obedience, IPO/Schutzhund/French Ring, and flyball all have something in common. These dog sports require the dogs participating in them to execute at least one jump while training and competing in their sport.
Jumping is a high-impact exercise that exponentially increases the force on the body, the joints, and the muscles. This increases the risk of injury, especially if your dog is not strong enough (read here to find out if your dog is strong enough to participate in high-impact sports) or has poor technique.
Understanding the biomechanics of the canine jump is crucial to training proper jumping form. Proper jumping form is important for efficient and safe jumping. Jumping is a complicated sequence of movements.
Jumping is a full body exercise. The front assembly, consisting of the shoulders, chest, and the front legs, provides the lift, or upward thrust, and absorbs the landing. The rear assembly, consisting of the back legs and pelvic area, provides...
One of the primary reasons that we encourage fitness training for our canine athletes is to reduce the risk of injury in dog sports.
Fitness training involves improving a variety of fitness components including cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, proprioception, balance and stability, strength, endurance, speed, and power. We use the K9 Fitness Pyramid as a visual representation of these components. Different sports have different specific fitness requirements but all sports involve all of these to some degree. (For more information on this, read our blog on training in the K9 Fitness Pyramid.)
Strength training, more than any other type of fitness training, will reduce the risk of a sports injury significantly.
Strength training is an accepted and well-researched way to reduce the risk of injury in people participating in sports. Using resistance to get stronger is the single best way to counter the risk of a sports injury.
Every dog needs a little R and R, right? This can be a confusing topic for those whose dogs train and compete in canine sports.
What exactly does a rest day entail for your dog as a canine athlete? What can your dog do or not do on that day? Why does your dog need it? Is a rest day different from a recovery day?
The Active Rest Day
A rest day is a day that your dog uses to physically and mentally recharge. It is a full day off, not just a few hours or an evening. Your dog's body will use this time to repair tissues.
A rest day is ideally an ACTIVE rest day in that your dog will maintain some degree of activity instead of just lounging all day. Active rest days are more accurately called active recovery days in the context of canine fitness and sports.
Benefits of An Active Recovery Day
Without effective active recovery days, all the rewards and benefits of fitness training can be negated. There are specific physiologic benefits to an active recovery day.
The benefits of a proper warm-up are numerous and indisputable. As canine sports competitors, we understand that we need to warm up our dogs before we ask them to run, jump, twist, turn, pivot, pull, catch, swim, or leap. This applies to dog sports, working dogs, and canine fitness.
While there are many approaches to a warm-up, there are components that are vital to include in a warm up every single time.
We must ask ourselves:
To begin to answer these, we look at what the warm-up is intended to do.
The warm-up should prepare your dog’s body, physiologically, for the work about to be done.
There are physiological changes that occur in the body when your dog is asked to do a physical activity, sport, fitness training, or other work. These changes...
Your dog is an athlete and you are your dog's coach and trainer. As such it is critical that you understand what happens to your dog’s body during a workout. Just exactly how does exercise make your dog stronger? What is happening in your dog's body that results in a stronger dog?
Having a functional understanding of the process helps tremendously in designing and structuring your dog's workouts as well as the phases of training.
There are two physiologic processes through which your dog gets stronger:
The first process is through more efficient recruitment of the existing muscle fibers. The second process actually results in an increase in the cross-sectional size of the muscle fibers. Both processes occur in all dogs when properly stimulated to do so, but the first process- increased efficiency of the existing muscle fibers usually happens first.
Physiologic response #1: increased...
When you and your dog train and compete in agility, flyball or any canine sport, your dog’s fitness level plays a key role. It is so important that hiring the wrong fitness coach can have a huge negative impact.
Your dog’s fitness level will directly affect performance, longevity in the sport, and perhaps biggest of all - the risk of injury. Your choice of fitness coach or personal trainer for your dog is critical to success. All K9 athletes, from top national level competitors to the novice in the sport, need the appropriate fitness level to compete for better times and placements.
You can find someone teaching canine fitness on nearly every corner- and in every part of the world via the internet. From your local dog trainer to an online course, canine fitness is everywhere. Since the canine fitness world is not regulated or monitored in any way, anyone can proclaim themselves a canine fitness coach.
How do you know that the fitness coach you have chosen has any...
The Fast Start Fitness program was created to help dog owners squeeze canine fitness into their busy lives.
This program provides a broad based, general fitness program that any healthy dog can begin by simply following the step by step exercises. Previously this program was only available to those who had purchased a K9 Fitness Solutions membership subscription, but now it is available to anyone.
The program begins with teaching your dog common fitness movements. From there, the program moves into the foundation of the K9 Fitness Pyramid:
Most importantly, strength training - the single most critical aspect of any fitness training program - is included. With specific strengthening exercises, it provides a solid approach to using body weight resistance for strength training in your dog.
This program is divided into 2 phases, each 6 weeks long....
There are 10 essential steps to having great workouts with your dog. If you follow these 10 steps, you will increase the effectiveness, increase the safety, and increase the enjoyment from each and every workout with your dog.
The first 5 steps, as we discussed previously, are:
STEP 6: GET EQUIPPED. Equipping your canine home gym will vary with your location, your goals, your budget and many other factors. But you will need at least a few pieces of equipment to really achieve your fitness goals. In many cases, you can make or use items around your home. You will find it easier to achieve your fitness goals if you dedicate these items for your dog gym. However, investing in high quality, canine conditioning equipment is wise for the serious athlete.
STEP 7: KNOW YOUR FITNESS GOALS We are talking SMART goals here. Different from your motivation, now you need to make your goals SMART: specific,...
There are 10 essential steps to having great workouts with your dog. If you follow these 10 steps, you will increase the effectiveness, increase the safety, and increase the enjoyment from each and every workout with your dog. Here are the first 5 of these Essential Steps, taken from our K9 Fitness Journal.
Step 1: Motivation.
The first step to a great workout with your dog is understanding why you are doing it. What is your reason for fitness training with your dog? Is it to enhance performance? Or reduce the risk of your dog getting injured? Or maybe, you want to prepare your dog for your sport so your dog can have a long, and successful career. Try to hone in on your number one reason.
Now you need to know what motivates your dog. Is it the high value food? The tug of the toy or the toss of the ball? Is it your undivided attention? You need...
Stable versus Unstable: which is the best for strengthening?
Many dog sports enthusiasts train their canine athletes in fitness with the goal of reducing the risk of injury and increasing longevity in their sport, as well as hoping to improve their dog’s performance.
Studies support that strength training is the single most important component of fitness training to keep your dog injury free and thus able to compete for a long time. But there remains a great deal of confusion regarding strength training in dogs and just how to do it.
Strength training is a type of training that increases strength by gradually increasing the resistance the muscles must overcome.
In people, strength training often involves the use of external weights (think dumbbells, barbells, weight machines) and occasionally just body weight resistance (think push-ups, pull ups, and sit-ups.) In dogs, this is most often done using body weight resistance, but can also be done using external weights like...