A good thing about playing with the One Mind Dogs agility stuff recently has been mum’s renewed focus on her own fitness. The philosophy of cue where I need to go and then get moving to the next cue obstacle, plus a lot more blind crosses (which means mum needs to be in front of me) has meant mum has been doing a lot of sprinting around the course. Go mum!
So while there is a lot of focus on fitness and bum strength for me, it is good to know the mum recognizes we are a team and she needs to hold up her end of the deal. Here are some of the things she has been doing (a lot of which I do with her which is good… hate being left out of anything):
General Fitness: trials are long days with intermitte bits of running around (well mum has to go walk the course a few times before and try to remember it… mum) but you need to able to hold up all day. Regular reasonably long walks or runs are great for this. Hey even an excuse to train for an Endurance Trial.
Sprinting: the thing with an agility trial is that it is all over pretty quickly. About the only time we are out there for over a minute is in the games, especially Strat Pairs. So that means there is a lot of running quickly from mum in a short space of time. Think that is called sprinting. With this OMD stuff it seems to be even more obvious as a cue where mum wants me to go and then she moves to the next obstacle so she gets out of my way. So in this case it is pushing off really quickly for a short distance. Mum and I do sprint sessions down at the little park around the corner or even just in the front yard. This isn’t about 100m sprints. This is about 5-20m sprints. Mum puts me in a sit and then gets ready beside me. She says “Break” and we both run as quick as we can. We either stop there and walk back to the starting spot so mum can get her breath back (do this more at the little park where there is more room) or if we are in the front yard mum just changes direction, can be any angle, and we go again. We do this for maybe 6 little bursts and then have a play.
Core Strength: mum has been a big fan of Pilates well before agility and even me coming into her life. The reason she loves it so much is the focus on the core muscles and with a strong core comes less back pain. So besides helping her back when she wrangling the toddler, mum also finds having a strong core great for the changes of direction in agility. Another place she appreciates it is with something like the nose grab (we did one the other day in the first corner) where she is bending over the bar and then needs to come back up at the same time as moving off with her feet. If you are really interested in Pilates than mum recommends seeing a professional instructor but even something as simple as Knee Folds are a great way to start (love helping out by standing over mum when she does her knee folds after a morning run… everyone needs a puppy personal training looking down on them!). The other thing that Pilates is great for is body awareness. Most exercises involve you using arms and legs in different ways. Keeping some muscles on and some relaxed and oh the breathing. Mum finds this really good practice for agility where she needs to be conscious of what her hands, arms, shoulders, legs, eyes etc are all doing so she doesn’t send me in the wrong direction.
Glute Strength: this goes with both the sprint training and the core strength. So that gluteus maximus (i.e. the bum) is the biggest muscle in the body. It is that muscle that should be firing to accelerate out in a sprint. Except for a lot of people, including mum, the bum can be lazy (see it isn’t just me mum) and not engage and recruit other muscles to do the job. This can also result in back pain as other muscles get strained. A great way to build glute strength is with lunges. Here is a piece on how to do a good lunge. My 1st World Dog advice is to also find a space to do lunges where there is also space for your dog to run in front of you. In the standing positing throw the ball. Wait in the lunge position for ball to be returned to your hand (see good practice for retrieve and give too) and then stand, throw and repeat lunge.
Agility can be pretty full on with all the time training and gear involved so these ideas don’t have any equipment apart from a lead to walk your dog with and a ball if you want to use it in the lunges. It also isn’t meant to be a full on gym workout but just some simple ways to incorporate some exercises for the handler into the training. So hope this helps with some ideas to keep up your side of the deal in the team.
phew…. exhausted watching mum….
Remember we are bloggers not professionals so if you have any sort of pain see a professional in the field of physio or other health areas.