I have just discovered Susan Garretts blog, http://susangarrett.wordpress.com , and love reading it, not only because it is interesting, fun and thought-provoking, but also because her young dog 'Feature' is Zazzy's sister! Because I am preparing to run a co-ordination and balance course, today her post seems almost to have been written about my own thoughts! Spooky!! Have a look at: http://susangarrett.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/fair-weather-walker/
I strongly believe that a dog should be fit before you ask it to do agility. Twisting, braking, landing impact, and sharp turning movements are demanding on muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones. A dog must be fit in order to be able to do all these things without getting injured. The slow controlled exercises such as those in the co-ordination and balance course I will be running on Saturday, help develop proprioreception, and in doing so also develop large and small muscle groups that ‘fine tune’ exact movement. These muscles stabilise joints, and therefore protect them against excessive movement leading to wear between the joints, or overstretching that may lead to injury. Also important are aerobic and anaerobic exercise that dogs will get from lots of good walks. I am happier knowing that my puppy has developed a good musculature from low-impact exercises before letting it charge around too much! As Susan Garrett suggests, I am sure that good runs over the hills, including flat-out runs as and when they feel like it, are good for developing speed, stamina and co-ordination and balance at speed. However, this kind of exercise needs to be built up slowly so that the dog does not damage itself. Just like human athletes, a well conditioned and muscled dog that is properly warmed up and not suffering from any over-use injuries, is far less likely to suffer from sprains, pulls, tears, back or joint problems. Strong muscles protect the joints and back from injury, as anyone with back problems who undertakes pilates classes will tell you.
2 days ago