Cristiano Ronaldo spends a lot of time in the gym. You’re not really surprised, are you? Sure he’s a footballer but he’s not going to spend all his time on the pitch – he needs to be fit to play, and a lot of that happens in the gym.
I just picked Ronaldo at random, because he’s well known, but you could say the same about almost any top human athlete, right?
You know what is surprising? How little dog fitness is still prioritised in agility. In agility, it’s pretty normal practice to get a puppy and then – when it comes time to do equipment with them – just get straight to it. Basic jump work, some straight tunnels, maybe some wing wraps, channels and so on.
Plus in agility, we tend to be obsessed with speed. Get that young dog to go fast! Restrains! Excitement!
Even if we don’t encourage that speed deliberately, the moment a reward is involved and therefore there is a destination in sight for the dog, getting anything slow in terms of agility behaviours can be tricky.
When you think about it, it’s kind of bonkers how agility training tends to approach our youngsters. Let’s take a jump behaviour as an example. Imagine a jump bump…
What’s involved, for the youngster? What do they need to be able to do when they do that jump bump? They need the ability to flex and extend their fore and hind limbs. The ability to balance as they land on one forelimb, and then the other. They need the ability to stabilise their back.
What do you do with your youngster before and as you introduce equipment to maximise their physical awareness and their physical ability and minimise their injury risk?
Ronaldo could spend all his time on the pitch practising with a ball, and no time in the gym. But he wouldn’t be as good. It’s just not the optimal way to get stronger, to become more body aware, to get faster, more agile.
That’s why our puppy series includes so much stuff to target your dog’s awareness of and use of their body, and isn’t just kit based… That’s why it’s different to the other stuff that’s out there at the moment in online agility puppy training. And that's why we really believe in it.