Conditioning My Shiba for Canine Sports

A huge pet peeve: poorly conditioned dogs that are allowed to perform. By condition, I mean physical and mental readiness. I want to see a dog that is lean, warmed up, ready to work, trained for the event, responsive, under control, and who is physically prepared to tolerate the stresses of the event.

Have I been guilty of working a dog that wasn’t in top shape, sure have. When I first started working with my dogs in agility and flyball, I didn’t know what I do now and lacked an understanding of the finer points associated with training, so now, wiser and more experienced, I do my best to pass it on to the new people so they don’t repeat my mistakes.

At our first Flyball tournement, the majority of dogs were focused, responsive, extremely lean, and physically ready to keep on working under pressure. What I didn’t like and what bothered me, was seeing the overweight dogs with long talons and poor training being allowed to keep running. I actually winced while I watched them run, expecting at any minute to hear their knees tear or see toenails ripped off on the box. Knowing the work that top teams put into their dogs, it really bothered me that, well, other people were diminishing that by entering their unconditioned backyard couch potatoes.

Beebe’s conditioning regime includes stretching before work, rub downs after working, taking salmon oil for anti-inflamotory purposes, and (trying) to stay at a healthy running weight. I also am a stickler on nail length and make an effort to dremmel all the dogs nails about every 1-2 weeks. When we go to an event, depending on the floor surface, I may let her nails get a little longer as they act like cleats and give her better grip. Sometimes I also use paw wax to help with grip.

Prior to practice or an event, I give her lots of extra water and a lite higher carb meal. During events, I carry a spray bottle to help keep her hydrated as Shibas can be poor drinkers. I will carry small biscuit snacks too and pop her a few for the extra energy, which is pretty much the only time she will ever get a dog biscuit. I also do my best to make sure she is reasonably clean and brushed, as she is a representative of her breed and should look and act nicely. Sometimes we do obedience drills just before an event to get her focused which lets her know that she ought to behave.

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