Cool Dog Agility

When you do agility or any activity in the summer, it’s important to remember that dogs do not cool down as easily as we do and cannot take off their coats.  But you can help them to cool down and stay cool with access to plenty of cool (not freezing) water inside and out in the shade.  Most dogs will learn to love taking at least a quick dip in a wading pool of cool water as well.  If your dogs will be outside, throw in some frozen water bottles with the lids removed to keep the water cool all day.  You may even find they love to play with the bottles when they are empty.

doggie_drencherIf you are out in the heat for practice or trials be sure to keep plenty of cool treats, check out our other article on some really fun and creative ideas for cold treats Keep Your Agility Dogs Cool From The Inside Out.  While many dogs will also run and do tricks for ice cubes!  Another great option if you are running backyard course or have young kids, is letting them all have a blast with one of our super “cool” water obstacles like the Hydro Hoop and Doggie Drencher.

If you are in the city or even if you are in a hot and sandy area, you need to keep in mind that pavement, cement and sand can get incredibly hot and burn your dogs feet.  It is always best to take your walks in the cool of the day either in the morning.  If you go in the evening remember that the ground may still be very hot as it stores the heat of the day.  If you must take your dog out when the ground is hot, test it by walking barefoot yourself, then you need to take appropriate measures for your dog feet.  Not only do they use their feet to get around, they also use them for cooling and hot surface can not only be painful, but also add to them overheating.  If you can, keep them on cool surfaces such as grass or fit them with protective paw boots and always have aftercare paw products for those times your dog gets burned.

The video below makes me laugh every time I watch it. The dog is adorable!

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Big Black Dogs Syndrome

Big Black Dog SyndromeIf you go to any shelter in the country, you’ll see predominantly big, black dogs there and they will be there week after week. Why is this?  It is now known as BDS, Black Dog Syndrome, and is a phenomenon experienced by all dog rescues and shelters around the country.  The theory that is being played out in actual experience, is that large, black dogs, have a much harder time being adopted, and because of that they have a much greater chance of being euthanized.

There’s a stigma to big black dogs that has been built up for years through movies, superstitions and the fact that most protection dogs have dark coats.  This all adds to the mindset that black is bad and black dogs are scary or mean.  Let’s face it, every “bad” animal or villain is dark or black.  The black cat, the raven, black widows and the list goes on.  Many don’t think a plain black dog is as “pretty” as their multicolored, golden or white counterparts.  Black dogs tend to grow white hair around the muzzle earlier than lighter dogs so at the shelters some black dogs will be perceived as older than they truly are.

Sadly, these attitudes cause many young, healthy dogs to be put down every year in local shelters.  Fortunately, there are rescues out there trying to make a dent in this problem and working hard to change the stigma of the black dog and taking every possible measure to give these deserving dogs a fair shot at a new home.  More and more shelters are making a concerted effort with their black dogs by training them tricks, giving them bright, pretty bandanas and promoting the breed not the color.  Even with this help they’re still a vastly overlooked and underrated sector of dogs and it is up to dog lovers everywhere to spread the word and promote them as much as possible.

So, the next time you’re looking for a pet in a shelter or know someone that is, be sure to take a good, long look at those furry dark faces.  You may see your new best friend and agility partner looking out at you.

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The SAID Principle of Exercise and Why it’s Important in Cross Training

Cross TrainingRe-posted with permission by Robert J. Porter LMT, CCRP

People have been exercising dogs for hundreds of years, and there are many techniques available to keep your dog in shape.  But, with all that’s out there, what really helps your dog be the best they can be?

Whenever I start a new exercise program for a dog, I first ask what the dog does in their everyday life. Does he have a job, run agility or herd sheep?  Or, does he lie around all day, making occasional sudden bursts out the back door toward a squirrel who inadvertently makes it into his yard?  An exercise program should be tailored to compliment the everyday actions that a dog does.

For an exercise to be effective, it should work the dog more than the handler, and it should be targeted to the actions seen in that animal’s daily life.  If we are cross-training for a sport, then we should also consider exercise that mimics the actions seen in the sport, but lessen the intensity or speed, while still challenging the athlete so their body can adapt and build strength.

This is where the S.A.I.D. principle of exercise comes in.  SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.  This basically means that we will get better and stronger at what we practice, but in very specific ways.  For example, walking and running in straight lines may be great exercises for general, cardiovascular fitness, but how can we help the agility competitor become stronger in their jumping abilities?

To better target the jumping action, I would pick an exercise that mimics the same ranges of motion seen in jumping, but with less intensity, still providing a challenge for the dog.

Check out the video below of SuperPan jumping over a simple set point jump. Watch how squats mimic the take off actions of a jump.

SAID Principle of Exercise (Action Demo) from robpossible on Vimeo.

The squat is a great example of mimicking the take off of a jump, but what exercises could help with landing?

About the author:  Robert Porter LMT, CCRP is the physical rehabilitation treatment supervisor at MedVet Medical & Cancer Center (Mandeville location). He was one of the first 30 people in the United States to become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner from the University of Tnnessee and has been working, full time, in the field of veterinary physical rehabilitation since 2000. Robby has a strong interest in positive training approaches to specific targeted exercise in canine sports medicine. Having a vast knowledge of canine pathology and years of experience working along side veterinary surgeons has given him a unique and creative perspective on approaches to therapeutic and conditioning exercises.

Robert J Porter, Director of Treatment
MedVet Mandeville
Physical Rehabilitation Department,
www.medvetforpets.com
www.facebook.com/medvetforpets
www.facebook.com/medvetforpets.mandeville

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