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I'm just going to go over our basic roadwork keep. Just the exercise regime, you can figure out what you want to feed
and which supplies you're gonna use on your own! You don't need a bike, flirtpole, springpole, etc....only equipment
that is ESSENTIAL is: a good harness, a 10ft, and a 50+ft lead, weight pull harness, some chains, and a good set of
legs, he he. Please keep in mind that this keep is not for the lazy bastard, and it's not for the dogman with only a few
hours a day to spare. Its a very draining keep, but is extremely rewarding in the end.
I understand that people work their dogs in different environments (city/country), so common sense and improvisational
skills will be needed in great abundance! But no matter where you work your dogs, the common goal is to fill the dog
with enough air, and put enough strength on him to get the job done.
This will be a 6-week program, with a 2-week pre keep:
Week 1) using a good harness walk the dog out for about 1 hr a day..checking the pads regularly. Try to keep him at a
decent clip, maybe 3-4 mph. (you can do a little flirt pole work, I don't suggest more than a few minutes per session
2-3x a week, and make sure its on a surface that wont tear his pads up). We do this for 6 days of the 1st week if there
are no problems with the pads. The 7th day he gets about a 30 min walk. After each workout, we like to rub the dogs
down from the nose, down to the toes, a 20 min rubdown does more for that dog than most people think.
Week 2) same as week 1, but we increase the time of the walks to 1.5 hrs a day. This is nothing for the dog....he's just
loosening up and his pads are getting tougher. You're also creating a special bond with the dog while you're walking
along....talking to him, building trust, BECOMING A TEAM.
Week 3) Day 1- give the dog about a 30 min walk at a moderate pace, then get yourself to a place where you can hook
up the long lead to him and let him do some sprints. ball work if he'll do it, or maybe he'll chase some small game if
they're around. a little flirt pole work LOW TO THE GROUND will work well here also...its important that you get
him to open up. After about 15-30 min of some serious playing I'll continue the walk for another hour, then bring him
home for his rubdown and feed.
Day 2- got your weight pull harness ready?? walk the dog out for about at least 20 minutes, making sure he's empty,
then hook him up to the weight pull harness with a 5-10 LB chain on the end (depending on the size and strength of
the dog) and get him moving at a good pace for about 30 min, which is equivalent to a bout 2 miles or so, give or
take...now you're ready to take the weight off, and finish up with a cool down walk for about 1 hr. a warm bath and
a good rubdown is how I like to end day 2.... and don't forget to rubdown the dog too. LOL
Day 3- dog should be ready for some work when you go out to greet him. Get your walking shoes on cause its 2 hrs
at a fast walk today. Also you might throw in 15 min or so of some ball work
Day 4- same as day 3 minus the ball work
Day 5- same as day 2 with a little flirt pole to start the day
Day 6- rest day, 20 min walk out.
Day 7-(new cycle)
Each week I will increase the walking time by 1 hr, so by peak week I will be up to 4-5 hrs of walking, which is
equivalent to about 15-20 miles. I will keep the 15-30 min of "playing" the same, and the 2 miles or so of weight
pull stays the same thru-out the keep. I will cycle down on the work once we reach our peak, and the dog will have
its last day of real work 1 week out...from 6 days out to 4 days out, all he's doing is some light hand walking....
dialing in his feed appropriately. 3 days out till the weight pull only time he's going out, is to empty. *** Thru out
the whole keep, its IMPERATIVE to monitor your dogs pads CONSTANTLY.
I will try and start out the dog on a 6 on 1 off cycle, or maybe a 5-1, but this is just an outline. I have to take
a lot of things into account such as the weather, how the dog is acting, how I am feeling, etc. and then make
some minor adjustments in how were going to achieve our goals. You can never make up for lost time, so
don't try to...lol if you need a couple of days off, or your dog needs a couple, then by all means, TAKE THE
TIME OFF. But don't try and make that time back up by putting undo stress on the dog; it's a gradual process.
Many dogs have been conditioned SOLELY on electric mills with great success. I've seen dogmen work their
dogs for a few hours on the e-mill at 3-4 mph and come in and win. The e-mill is a great tool, but nothing
compares to getting out there with your dog and hitting the road.
Now if you take the basic concept of this keep, add a swim tank, or a mill, a jenny, some bite work etc. make
some adjustments, add your own flavor, you're going to have a happy, healthy, well adjusted dog that's going
to come in with lots of air, and some serious strength. No matter what form of exercise regime you use, there
is no substitute for solid dedication, common sense.........and a good dog.
The above keep has been used by us 4 times, we're 3-1 with it...the loss was a game pick up at 2:03. I hope
this helped some of the folks that had questions about roadwork.
Basic Q & A about conditioning.
Q. How should I begin a conditioning program to help my dog achieve the best performance possible?
A. First you must decide what activity you want to pursue with your dog. Conditioning a running dog is different than conditioning a dog for work. Speed conditioning emphasizes one thing while conditioning for endurance emphasizes another. After you have decided what you want your dog to do you can begin to look at conditioning programs. Always be sure your dog is in general good health and in good condition, especially proper body weight. It is advisable to have your dog examined by a veterinarian prior to beginning any exercise program. Also it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise periods.
Q. What kinds of exercises would benefit my dog?
A. There are two classes of activity each intended to promote a different type of conditioning. Both are important in any activity. Again, one may be emphasized over the other depending on the desired results.
Strength conditioning involves one type of muscle fiber and is designed to increase strength and speed. Aerobic activity on the other hand involves a different type of muscle fiber and promotes endurance.
Q. What are some strength exercises?
A. Any short burst activity such as short retrieves on land or water is excellent for strength conditioning. Short ,steep, uphill runs are also effective. Weight pulling and weight carrying gives good results but is difficult to accomplish and must be approached with caution to avoid injury.
Q. What about endurance exercises?
A. Any aerobic activity is good such as long distance running (road work or treadmill). Long distance swimming is very effective and is very joint and muscle sparing.
Q. How much exercise and how often?
A. The following guidelines can be used, but, keep in mind that any conditioning program must be tailored to your individual dog and its activity. In general endurance exercise should be performed a minimum of 5 days per week for 30 minutes at each period. Strength training should last for only 10 to 15 minutes and never be done on consecutive days, i. e. every other day, or MWF, etc.
Q. What about a warm up?
A. It is critical to avoid injury, especially prior to very strenuous activity. Five minutes of very light jogging is adequate.
In summary, a little thought and effort is required to develop a conditioning program for your canine athlete. However, if optimum performance is your goal, conditioning can be a large part of your success. Along with genetic selection, training, and nutrition, conditioning can make the difference between winning and just competing.