Friday, January 31, 2014

FitDog Friday: Conditioning Plan

Next month, Koira will be running full time in start position for the first time in her flyball career. I have high hopes that her turn will remain decent. When she gets tired, though, it may drop a bit. In order to keep her running easily and keeping a nice turn for as long as possible, I decided to put together a conditioning plan for the weeks between now and then.

This is our mocked-up conditioning schedule for the next month and next two flyball tournaments

I don't do so well with strict regular schedules, or with just winging it. So instead, I tried to cobble together the best possible plan based on my work schedule and the amount of free time I should have each day. The basic possible activities I used were free running, flirt pole, on the ball, leashed walks, and flyball practice. I didn't want to do something like Monday free running, Tuesday flirt pole, etc, because that bores me, and I have to think it bores my dog as well. Instead, I set it up with us doing free running at the park on the days we have the most free time. Days where my free time will be limited are leashed walks or flirt pole work, and days when my free time is likely to be after dark are on the ball days. Rest days are for those days when I will be working double shifts or right after tournaments.

Free running at the park or beach for us means that the dogs will be off leash and free to play, run, and explore as they wish. I won't be controlling their movement or speed in any way other than keeping them generally near me and preventing them from bothering other people. I generally don't bring toys to the park to play with because I prefer that the dogs run and play with each other, however, some of our friends at the park like to play fetch with my dogs, and I am happy to let them do so while we visit. Park visits tend to last a minimum of 30 minutes and have been known to last up to 4 or 5 hours. 

Flirt pole work is much more intensive than free running at the park. Since I am in control of the flirt pole, I am controlling the movements of the dogs. I try to make sure they are circling both directions and making tight turns both left and right, rather than just having them chase the flirt pole around and around. The goal isn't to make them totally out of energy, but rather, to get them to practice quick movement and bursts of speed. Fifteen minutes is generally plenty of time for an in shape dog to get a good workout with a flirt pole.

On the ball stuff is pretty basic. For my dogs, I like to go through a basic routine of having them sit, stand, down, and turn both directions on the ball, moving slowly and having to adjust their balance as they go. I like to have them do slow motion puppy pushups, down-stand-down, sit-stand-sit, etc, so that they have to readjust. Koira has been getting very good at her sit pretty on solid ground, so I might see if she can give me a sit pretty on the ball. 

Koira giving me a sit pretty at the beach

Leash walks are pretty self explanatory, I think, as are rest days. Rest days don't mean we won't do any training of any kind, but it does mean we won't be focused on physical training or conditioning work. We may still work on tricks or mental games on those days.

What do you think? Think Koira will be ready to not only run full time, but in start position, for her first tournament? Dogs in start position can run up to 3 times as much as the rest of the dogs on the team due to false starts.


  1. Great post! Love the planning.

    If I may make a suggestion, keep your plan in a worksheet and add duration and workout notes for each day. This will provide you some feedback that you can look back on when evaluating how it all worked.

    Bravo to you!


  2. Dear Koira,

    Congratulations on your new position! That is quite the training plan. You must have very good core strength and back leg awareness. My handsome-dog-friend Simon is a competitive agility dog and he does things like this too. His person makes it fun - I bet yours does too! You are a true athlete!


  3. Looks like a great plan to me! We have to mix it up too so we don't get bored.
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco

  4. This is a great idea to have a weekly conditioning plan. We'll have to make something like this-thanks for the idea!