I thought I’d post our training schedule up here. It was something I asked Silvia about during her class and something I’m constantly trying to find the right balance in. Maybe you’re just starting out in agility training – that’s great! But you need to remember your dog’s fitness is so important. So how does our week run?
I’ll admit, I’m not great at keeping a schedule, so this often changes day-to-day, depending on the weather, energy level of the dogs (if Lu is being particularly happy or keen, I’ll train her in agility), whether I have other commitments, etc. But this is a rough outline.
Monday-Friday: Morning walk for 30-45 mins. Nic sometimes takes Lu for a 5km jog. Play ‘controlled fetch’ with Loki in the bush to help improve his coordination. Let dogs run around in the yard while I get ready for school. Crate Loki, Lu and Mal are in the lounge together. May give the dogs a Kong. When I get home, we might do 30-45 mins of agility (split between Loki and Lu) but more often than not, we’ll pack up the car and head out for another bushwalk, usually about an hour. Come home, dogs can have a run together if it’s still light (important since Lu is currently on-lead during all our walks) do stretches and core exercises with Lu, and the same for Loki if there’s time. Occasionally either Loki or Lu will come to school with me where the kids will walk them around during lunch and recess – this is a pretty slow, ambling walk though so I don’t necessarily count it as exercise.
I try and fit in a rest-day but our walks are pretty relaxed with Lu on lead so a day where we just walk kind of counts as a rest.
In terms of the agility training, I try and mix it up: 1 day of running contacts, 1 day of weaves for Lu, 1 day of wraps for Loki, 1 day of tunnels for Loki, a break, back to running contacts, etc. I don’t want to do 2 days of wraps in a row, for example.
Saturday was traditionally our day to go to an external club for training, however we haven’t been for a few months due to Lu’s rehab. After training, we would usually go for a beach run for about 2 hours. On a big day like this, I would try and do a few of Lu’s stretches after the agility training, but not the whole routine. We also try and mix it up and throw in some herding every now and then. I find that mentally, a half day of herding does wonders for my dogs, who sleep away the rest of the day!
Sunday is either a ‘busy at home’ day, which means lots of running together in the yard, helping dig holes, jumping in water troughs, etc., or we aim to do another 1+ walk together. Stretches and balance exercises in the evenings.
Writing this, I realise that we don’t do nearly as many tricks as we used to. I’m not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing as I feel that the time taken doing tricks is now being used to walk and condition the dogs instead. Because of the strength and balance exercises, we do still get some tricks in there – part of Loki’s repertoire is his ‘sit pretty’ and ‘side legs’ tricks, and him learning to hold his nose against my hand during stretches. So in a way there are tricks incorporated into our strength, stretch and balance time, but not in a formal ‘trick teaching’ kind of way.
I once heard a Canine Rehab person say that for every hour of agility you should be doing 2 hours of conditioning. I’d say that we are working well above that, and I’m happy. I feel like Lu is stronger in her core than ever, though her cardio fitness has suffered as a result of the on-leash walks and 6 weeks of restricted exercise, and I feel like Loki will have a good solid base as his training continues and will hopefully help prevent injuries going forward.
Do you consider conditioning to be an important part of your training routine, or is it something you’d like to consider more?