August 21, 2006


Thommo has a great start-line wait, but we don't use it very often as he is much more motivated if I run with him. There are not a lot of courses where a lead-out gives a significant advantage, and I often see handlers leading out huge distances and then waiting for their dog to catch up before running together. However, Dusty doesn't need the same support at the start-line, and her speed could require strategic positioning on course to give her early warning of the path, so we are back practicing lead-outs. This exercise alternates lead-outs and lead-out pivots.
Lead-out – A handling maneuver where the dog is placed on a wait at the start line and the handler moves to a strategic position prior to starting the course.

Lead-out pivot – A maneuver used to change a dog’s direction off the start line. The handler leads out, faces the direction he initially wants the dog to go, and then calls the dog. As the dog lands, the handler counter-rotates 270° to effect a change of side and change of direction.

August 16, 2006


Conditioning For Healthy Dogs, a Powerpaws article by Sarah Johnson, says:

Conditioning is defined as "developing a state of health, readiness, or physical fitness." Simply stated, conditioning consists of a planned program of exercise. Fitness is the condition of being physically fit. Fitness includes, cardiovascular, muscle strength, muscle endurance, power, balance, proprioception, flexibility and more.

Specific Training For Your Sport

Mimic the movements of your sport in your conditioning program. For example, if you do a 2 on 2 off 6’3’ A Frame, you need to strengthen those muscles in that specific position without the impact of that obstacle.

Cross Training

Get your cardiovascular workout or strength training using different muscles than you use for your sport in order to prevent overuse injuries. For example, swimming your agility dog.

The article goes on to list the pros and cons of a number of popular methods of exercising dogs, such as:

  • Hiking with dog off leash
  • Long distance recalls between two people
  • Walking in deep sand
  • Underwater Treadmill
  • Riding a bike or scooter while dog is trotting
  • Johnson advises against throwing a ball as a form of exercise:

    Too focused on ball, therefore, runs into fences, cars, other dogs, people and other objects
    Too focused on ball, therefore not thinking about their body position & landing
    Jumping high into air, causes big uncontrolled impact on landing, high risk for injury
    Running after low ball is high risk for impact sliding injuries
    If the dog is overweight or unfit, the risks are extremely high for injury.
    Is this the play relationship you want with your agility dog - pick up a toy and your dog runs out away from you.

    August 15, 2006


    Originally uploaded by kulkuri.

    Agility in Finland.

    Environmental rewards

    I'm looking to reward Thommo with things that he likes to do, rather than with toys or treats, as a way of keeping him 'in the game'. These two exercises we'll work on over the next few days, using the tunnel as a reward for a fast teeter and/or a tight turn, and as a reward for control on the table.

    Tunnel entries

    At training with Le and Keith - Canine Fun Sports - today we did an exercise practicing entries to the far end of the tunnel. We tried a range of strategies: using a front cross, a call and send, an off-arm turn. Thommo was not in the mood so had to be coaxed and jollied through the exercises - it makes it hard when he's not driving to the next obstacle. Dusty was so driven that I was stretched to get into place for the move I wanted.

    In her class we also did some see-saw work. Keith stepped up to control the drop and Duz turned to look and fell off the side. She immediately hopped back up in the same place and continued to the end for her treat.