Be Your Pet's Coach
Be A Good Coach!
Congratulations on pursuing a form of canine athletics. Whatever your sport of choice, the bond created while learning, practicing, or competing in a canine athletic event is wonderful. The physical and mental challenges you'll face in any structured activity will be truly rewarding. This blog is the beginning of a series on several different athletic options, including Agility, "Disc Dogging", Course Agility Trials, and more! Stay tuned for specifics regarding each activity.
Be prepared! Here are a few items that you should bring along to any canine sporting event or practice:
- Pet First Aid Kit
- Drinking water and bowl
- Appropriate leash/collar/harness for the activity AND travel
- Weather-appropriate accommodations: You may need access to a building or your car for heat and air conditioning, or perhaps a crate in a shaded area is enough. Either way, make sure you have a plan to keep your pup comfortable during periods of inactivity.
All good coaches keep an eye on their players' health. Long and short-term health should be considered when deciding if your pooch is up for the activity. Now let's get started!
Warm-up and Cool-down
Warm Up 1 from Pet Health Academy on Vimeo.
Don't let your dog's enthusiasm for participating keep you from doing a proper warm-up. Start with a slow leashed walk and build gradually to full speed. Watch the animal's stride (gait) and don't let them participate if they're limping or otherwise ill-prepared for the activity. The dog may have come from a stationary position in a car and go right back to that afterward, so a cool-down is important as well. Allow them time to gradually decrease their level of exercise and do not stop abruptly.
Cool Down from Pet Health Academy on Vimeo.
A good break includes a "potty" break, access to clean drinking water, relief from cold or hot temperatures, as well as a decrease in mental stimulation. A good example of a sufficient break is a slow walk through the shade in the grass with multiple opportunites to get a drink of water. Gulping large amounts of water is not best. You should see the heart rate and breathing rate normalize during the break and you should notice the animal begin to relax.
Do not feed just before or just after a strenuous activity. Plan meal times in advance so that the pup has had a chance to digest. Otherwise, you are increasing the pet's risk for a condition known as bloat, which is deadly.
If it were up to Tuckie he would go all day long chasing his Frisbee but we have to be our pet's coaches and recognize when its time to take a break.