Friday, May 17, 2013

Fit Dog Friday: Conditioning

I decided recently that Koira needed a bit more conditioning, and that Pallo could use it as well. We are coming up on a number of flyball tournaments, lure coursing weekends, and of course summer camping, hiking, and backpacking plans in the next few months. It will be easier on the dogs if they are both in really good physical condition.

Now, yes, my dogs are already pretty in shape. But right now, if I were to run Pallo full time at a two day flyball tournament, he would be dead tired by the end of Saturday and not fully recovered by Sunday morning, leaving him at risk for injury. Koira I think has a bit more endurance, but I have this crazy desire to see her totally ripped this summer. I want to have one of those dogs that even dog people stop and admire the muscles on.

I admit it. It is part vanity.

Koira diving for her toy

What this all means, though, is that I am starting a conditioning program with my dogs. I don't want to do too much of anything, but want to do enough of everything to get some good results. What this means is we will be stepping up the number of off leash walks and hikes for the dogs, slowly increasing them in length. I will also be trotting them on a bike a couple times per week (weather permitting) for 20 minutes. This is stuff we have been doing, I will just be increasing how much and how often we do them.

There are also things I plan to add to their conditioning routines. I recently built a spring pole for the dogs after a friend let them try out the one she had. They both totally loved it and got a really good work out from it, so I decided we needed one at our house. I'll share the how-to on making a spring pole in another post, but let me say it was super simple and cheap to make. I plan to let Koira use the spring pole for no more than 5 minutes at a time at first, and gradually build up to no more than 15 minutes at a time. I don't think she will ever get tired of the spring pole (though Pallo will if not continually encouraged), but I don't want to over work her on it.

Pallo with the spring pole

Koira leaping for the spring pole

Koira tugging like crazy on the spring pole, and using the tree to help

I am also planning on getting another lunge whip to make a new flirt pole. We had one before, but I don't have any idea what happened to it. The dogs love playing with it, so a new one will be being built soon. We will likely start out doing the same thing as with the spring pole- start with 5 minute max sessions, and build up to 15 minutes, and do it a few times per week. Again, I don't want to over work the dogs or have them get bored with the game, so I will always be stopping when they are still eager for more.

Pallo playing with the flirt pole

Koira trying to grab the flirt pole

Pulling is another conditioning game we will be working on. So far, I have been having Koira (in her freight pulling harness) pull an old tire across the yard 4-5 times every few days. The tire doesn't weigh a lot, but the slow and steady pulling of lighter weights can really help build condition without too much of an increased risk of injury. We might even end up competing in some weight pulls if we stick with it enough she enjoys it enough. Because Pallo doesn't like weight pull at all, I am not going to be having him do this one, though I may try again at some point to see if I can increase his enjoyment.

CAT May 11th-3068
Pallo lure coursing at a recent CAT trial

Adding to this the other fun things we try to do whenever possible, including lure coursing, swimming, dock diving, and trips to the beach should start to make a big difference for the dogs in terms of condition. Since they also both have flyball once a week and Koira just started agility once a week as well, I am hoping I will see some big improvements by the time our next full weekend flyball tournament comes along in July.

(Also, thank you to my friend Kay who took all of the pictures in the posts on Monday, Wednesday, and today, other than Pallo lure coursing, which was taken on my camera by my friend Nicole. Thank you guys for the awesome photos!)


  1. Wow. You really work these guys -they are true athletes. Well done - you're an inspiration to all of us! Thanks for joining our Hop.

  2. I seriously need to get a flirt pole for Herbie...

  3. Wow! Those are some fantastic pups and photos!!! You will for sure be the envy of all!!!

  4. Omg! Those are the best photos! I'm so impressed!

  5. Awesome action shots. I'm new at photography and need to work on improving my action shots in particular. What a great plan. It's that time a year. No doubt they'll both be ripped by the end of the summer.

  6. Those sound like great activities! We go on a off leash outing everyday and I think it works wonders for the dogs' conditioning. Though Kaya has been tearing up her pads lately chasing down tennis balls in the woods:/

  7. I really like the idea of a spring pole. I'll be watching out for your instructions. This is for Frankie, not Beryl :) I've got a flirt pole but haven't used it for years, he gets too intense with it and I worry a little that he might grab me by mistake!!