IMG_4560Earlier in the month we hosted the Canine Fitness and Body Awareness Symposium here at Say Yes Dog Training. It was everything I had hoped it would be. Three days PACKED with amazing insight and research from Dr. Leslie Woodcock, Robby Porter and myself.

The focus was how to keep our dogs fit and healthy…both for performance sports, longevity and good long healthy life!

In short it was AMAZING!

Inspired by some of the work we did on the treadmill with Robby Porter I put together this short video of a new routine I have been working on with my dogs. Lots and lots of great information was shared at our Symposium…and the treadmill work was just one part of it all.

Featuring MY Fab-Five

During the Symposium I shared my five favourite body awareness exercises. Basically these are variations of; Back up, Sit-to-Stand-Squats, Sit Pretty, Targeting Individual Paws & FitPAWS type balance type inflated disc/pods/peanuts etc work.  Over the next month I will be sharing more details about these “Fab Five” body awareness exercises. They are all “non treadmill” fitness exercises for my dog and you can get the low-down on them through my newsletter. If you would like to receive this information, subscribe to our Newsletter  through the form to the right… here on my blog.

twister flyball box

It was not a random choice to have our Symposium early in December…you see every year somewhere between October and February I take between 8 -12 weeks away from agility. I have done this my entire career in canine sports…way back to my “flyball days.” During this time I do “cross fit” with my dogs. Allowing their mind and body a break from one sport.

It isn’t just because I am an “elite” competitor and my dogs may endure more stress than the average agility dog…actually I compete a heck of a lot less than the “average” agility competitor.

I think this time off is critical. For less motivated dogs it gives them a mental break and for over-the-top-dogs it gives them both that mental break and a chance to heal any hidden soft tissue insults that may be brewing below the surface.

It really is a period of physical and mental rejuvenation. It could include learning new “tricks” or doing obedience…but lately it is FitPAWS & Treadmill fun , swimming, and of course hiking/snow shoeing. I didn’t arbitrarily pick “8 weeks off”…I did it in consult with Veterinary Rehab specialists. I was told anything short of 6 weeks is like no break at all for the dog’s muscles and that 8-10 weeks would be ideal.

IMG_4967During this time my dogs do no agility…not even a single obstacle.

Near the end of the time I start them back with low straight jump grids. From 8-10 weeks I work them back on short sequences and individual obstacle performances. So it is generally 12 weeks or more away from any agility competition of any kind. I have to tell you it can sometimes be hard with all of the “temptations” of “qualifier events”…but it is a process I believe in whole heartedly. Not only to giving any unknown soft tissue insults or injuries (that we may not know about) a chance to heal…but most importantly to give my dogs (and I) a mental break from the sport to come back fresh for the next 9 months of the year!

Today I am grateful for all of the OTHER things that we can do with our dogs to keep them fit, focused and having fun that are AWAY from our performance sports.