Gilberts' K-9 Seminars News & Review
Copyright (c) 2005-2009 Gilberts' K-9 Seminars
by Pat Gilbert

I was asked: “I have a question, what are your favorite exercises for building the upper and lower thigh muscles?” This person has a Siberian Husky and an Ibizan Hound. What a combination! You can take much of my suggestions and adapt it to your specific breeds.

Of course being a wise guy I first recommended a Stair Master.

Any exercise involving uphill work will build up the rear. If you are looking for special areas that require remedial work then specific exercises will be required. Uphill work will strengthen first and second thigh muscles. If you road work find a fair incline. Your rear as well as the dogs rear builds up going uphill.

I know of a man who road works his dog up the hill and puts the dog in the car for the down hill ride. Now that's dedication. I don't think you need to get that crazy.

Tossing a ball up the stairs in a game of fetch and catch works too.

If you are so inclined, a Siberian can pull a light sled. The Ibizan needs to run hard.

All dogs regardless of breed or size need hard running and play. Don’t force it. Let them choose how much and how hard.

I strongly believe roadwork is the best. Mind you roadwork is only for a healthy and fully developed dog. The growth plates must be closed or you can do some serious damage to your dog. The growth plate is an area in the long bones of the dog that grows till the bone reaches it final length at its genetically determined age. At this time the growing bone is of the same composition as the rest of the long bone. The different long bones close their growth plates at different ages. The first growth plates to close are the pelvic bones at 5 to 6 months of age, while the last growth plate to close is the tibia (one of the bones of the second thigh) at the stifle joint at 10 to 14 months.

Also you want a warm up period. Stretch out those muscles and then get into building up of those muscles. I start with a walk or sometimes even a massage and leg stretch. Don’t forget the toes too. Feet need warming up.

I roadwork my dog along side me with a bike or car. I also like roller blading. Roller blading is very smooth and your dog learns to move as one with you along side your body.

Some breeds are worked besides me at a brisk walking speed. Even Toy dogs need good muscle tone. They are athletes too even if they are tiny.

Be careful about your footing. You don't want your dog slipping, falling, or pulling you down. I work on black top or a dirt road. Make sure whatever you do that you have quick release in case of emergency. Of course if you are lucky to have a beach, then running on the beach is the absolute best. Sand is wonderful for feet too. It develops the toes and strengthens ligaments.

If you use a jog-a-dog treadmill, then set it with an uphill incline for better rear muscle development. Never leave your dog on a treadmill unattended.

The Siberian and Ibizan breeds need to go roughly 3 miles or about 10k three times a week. Depending upon the dogs initial condition you may need to build up to the optimum distance. I would start them out with a good stretch and then a full gallop, slow to a canter and then "settle" into a show ring trot. I change my trot speeds and pay special attention to footfall and timing. If your dog is sloppy with his feet, then you need to teach him to be aware of where he is putting his feet. That is another exercise we will discuss in a future newsletter.

I use keywords as they run alongside me, the car or bike. That trains your dog to settle into the best speed for him. "Fast, slow, easy, and steady on." "Steady on" is for the absolute best and beautiful speed for the dog. Use any words you are comfortable with and as in any training situation be consistent with your words.

Another reason I change speeds is it develops muscles differently and helps your dog cope with moving at different speeds and conditions for various show rings. As dog shows are held outside and under different weather conditions and footing, the road work should be done under all weather conditions. This will prepare your dog for those bad weather shows. Take proper precautions with heat/cold precautions. I love those terry cloth dog coats. They can be used dry for warmth and wet for cooling. Remember - always have water for the dogs. I also carry electrolytes in the water for an extra energy boost.

Any time your dog is tired or sore, or you are, pass on the roadwork. All that you do needs to be positive.

You don't want most breeds overstepping. The Ibizan has to keep its movement light with a slight lift not fast and low. The Siberian needs to have a steady smooth, can go all day long, kind of endurance trot. Since the two breeds have completely different styles of movements, do not roadwork them together. The two breeds need to be done separately.

Every breed has a desired trot. You really need to know what the proper breed trot looks like before you start out. I try to train for conditioning and for maximum correct for the breed performance at the show ring trot. Remember every breed should trot differently in the show ring.

Another thought - If you are showing a brace, then roadwork the brace dogs coupled together. They will learn to move as one.

Any time your dog is tired or sore, or you are, pass on the roadwork. All that you do needs to be positive.

Yes, it is a huge commitment but it will not only keep your dogs and you healthier but will build a stronger bond amongst you.

I outlined what I believe is the minimum distances and frequencies for good not great muscle tone. You need to know your dog and decide what looks and feels best. If you are not sure, get a professional to help you. That professional can be anyone who knows how to properly condition a dog. Remember that conditioning for the show ring is not the same as conditioning for optimum working ability.

As always, I am happy to answers your questions. You can e-mail me at my private box

The above Article is Copyrighted (c) 2004-2010 Gilberts' K-9 Seminars.
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