Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Focusing On The Future…Ringing In 2015 In Fitness STYLE For Our Dogs!


In my last blog post, I showed a treadmill routine I put together building on some cool ideas I got from Robert Porter at our Canine Fitness and Body Awareness Symposium. Since then we have gotten two main questions…
First… what if I missed the Symposium…any chance you will do another one?
Second …what can I do without a treadmill?

Today I am going to address both concerns…I think you will be happy with what I am going to share   Okay, if you haven’t read the feedback from all of the excited people that took part in our first ever “Canine Fitness & Body Awareness Symposium” (that we held  at the beginning of the month)…it was awesome, REALLY AWESOME!

It wasn’t just our brilliant presenters that made this Symposium so amazing, believe it or not…it was our video crew! Seriously even Robert Porter himself said he had never worked within a production anything like it before! You see each dog that worked had FIVE cameras on them at all times. Our production crew worked out the best angles and streamed it all not only to the internet but to a 70” monitor for both Robbie and each of us to observe as the dogs worked…how COOL is THAT?

Dr. Leslie Woodcock not only shared her views on our dog’s posture & nail trimming…but also presented live demos showing us EXACTLY how to give our dogs (especially our performance dogs) the best nail trim ever and WHY we should all strive to do just that! This was followed up with yours truly going into the training details of body work for our dogs…and then the brilliant Robby Porter with his insight into fitness both on and off the treadmill.

As I mentioned last week, right now my dogs are in their “off season.”
Now an “off season” doesn’t mean “no work” for my dogs …it just means “different work” as we are doing “cross fit” type physical activities. I may be working similar muscle groups my dogs would use in agility but the impact is far less severe, more controlled. There isn’t the velocity going into any skill that there would be in agility and there are far less repetitions. In fact, I am helping my dogs be at their best once we do head back to the agility ring.
In addition to working my dogs on the treadmill, I do as much or more work AWAY from the treadmill…it is something I try to do every day.

Why every day? Because it takes only a few moments, it’s fun for both of us, it’s EASY …often requiring little to no equipment, and it is productive. Just like agility, I am getting my dogs to use their brains as I get them to work their bodies.

FitPAWS makes these awesome little “pods” that are a great place to start with your dog. Sooooo much can be done with these pods…along with MANY other very cool pieces of fitness equipment that FitPAWS has for your dog (I am pretty sure I have just about every piece they sell).

Often people get wrapped up in trying to get their dogs to place four paws on those four pods RIGHT AWAY. While that is cool (I call it “Doggy Twister”), you don’t want to start with four pods…it can be too frustrating for both you and your dog. Try starting with just two pods…there is so much you can do with just two. Get the dog wanting to “load up” on two pods allows you to grow endless possibilities of “body awareness” behaviours from there!

I start this routine by just building value for her WANTING to keep her front paws on those two pods. You might want to do just that for a session or two then play the game of asking for other behaviours. Gradually build up to  your dog keeping their paws on those pods throughout the entire sequence! My youngster Swagger is a pro at this…Feature is getting better. A quick game, great for the dog’s brain and body and loads of entertainment for both of you.

Once you have played the two pod game …work at two front paws on the pods with the two back paws on something else…like maybe another fitness disc and eventually two more pods! Continue to add complexity only when your dog is confident. In the picture to the left you can see Swagger not only balancing on four pods but also doing his “pretzel dog” routine giving his neck and spine a stretch at the same time…I follow this up with him reaching and stretching one rear leg and then the other (as in the picture above). It is amazing what you can teach your dog once you have their confidence. In all of your dog training, protecting your dog’s confidence is key.

Today I am grateful for all of the very cool ideas I got from our Fitness & Body Awareness Symposium myself…the true definition of “win-win”. ..  presenting at a workshop where you are learning as much as you share!

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