I hate heat and humidity. This week is all about heat and humidity. Oh well. I am glad that I live on enough property that I can take several short walks with my dogs, rather than trying to take them for one long walk in the heat. An example of a day in my dogs' life. Today I woke up at 6:45am (so nice not to have to get up early if I don't want to). Let the dogs out to do their business while I slapped on my outside-appropriate clothes. It was already about 75F and humid, so we walked about 15minutes. When I walk our fields, my dogs usually sort of shuffle around, alternating between walking, trotting, and cantering. I don't allow them to race, as that's not the type of exercise I want during walk, and i don't want them getting all anxious and silly about going out to do it. So we putter around the fields for 15 minutes. Later in the morning we did some jump grids. I set a 4-jump bounce grid, pretty tight so it is a collection type grid. This is a muscle building grid, not an extension, or speed change grid, which is more focused on jumping skills. This grid is all about core work, and building shoulder and rear muscling as well. We do the 4-jump grid (set at 12"/20"/20"/22") 10 times with each adult dog, all of them at the same height. Strafe did maybe 4 of them set at 8/12/12/12 just for fun. Then a few hours later we did our workout with the wrist weights. These are specialized weights that velcro around the dog's wrists. The dogs walk around the living room with them (for treats) and it works just like lifting weights does for people. This is a great low-impact, muscle building exercise, but you need to be under the direction of a qualified professional to purchase them. I do these for a few minutes per adult dog. Because I just increased to a heavier weight, I am not doing any stairs or stepping over bars or Bosu ball work with the weights on. That is very hard work! Strafe gets them strapped on for just a little bit, so he gets used to the idea, but not enough to overwork his undeveloped puppy muscles too hard. When we were done that, I did the "snoopy" exercise, where you hold up diagonal legs and the dog has to stand on the remaining 2 diagonal legs for a period of time, using their core to balance. We did about 20seconds per side. Then after it rained and cooled off slightly with the clouds, we did another walk in the fields, about 20minutes this time.
Seems like a lot? It is, sort of, but the weights, core work, and jump grids don't take more than a few minutes each, and it pays off massively in the amount of strength the dogs have. I am constantly amazed by how few people really understand how to properly condition their agility (athlete!) dogs. Fetching in the backyard is not good conditioning exercise. If you must play fetch (I choose not to, though that doesn't mean I never toss them a toy in play or training!), it should be an occasional and limited activity. Going for a walk, even a short one, is much more beneficial to the dog, as he can move in natural ways and not jam shoulders/wrists/upper back while braking and turning. Allowing the dog to muddle about and move on his own is wonderful for helping them unkink and relieve stress as well.
Tomorrow we'll do some more walking, maybe practice some contacts, do some sit-ups, push-ups*, and work on the Bosu Ball...
*push-ups are when the dog does down-sit-down or down-stand-down