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Yeap, because of all that, I, unlike most people, think agility is good for the dogs. I think it keeps them happy, young and healthy. For some reason, my boyfriend who is a doctor, agrees with me. He is always saying I should be stressing my joints and bones as much as possible now that I'm young, so that they'll be strong enough to bear with me when I'm old. He thinks I might have problems otherwise because I'm so light and my weight itself doesnít put enough stress on the joints. I donít see why it would be any different for the dogs???***
***To read more on a subject from scientific point of view, click here.
To copy-paste one extract: "In general, high correlations exist between muscle mass and skeletal mass in exercising subjects. Under conditions of disuse and inactivity, both skeletal and muscle tissues atrophy, even in those who are in their growth periods."
Also, research (sorry, canít remember a source right now, but I will try to find it), done on horses, used for show jumping, showed that horses that underwent early training at young age, had longer and healthier careers since their joints were better prepared for the job that theyíll be doing, as those of horses that didnít do any jumping until growth was finished.
Trust me, if I ever think agility hurts my dogs, that's the moment I'm out of the sport. I don't even nearly love it that much as I love my dogs.
But as you probably figured out, I donít think agility hurts my dogs. Even more, I think itís their secret drug that keeps them young, happy and healthy. Who wouldnít like a drug like that!?! I donít plan to take that away from them as long as they enjoy it or as long as I donít have any sign telling me that itís hurting them. I spend 24 hours a day with my dogs, I watch them, I play with themÖ And everything is telling me the opposite of what people say. And you know me and how good I am in listening to others when my intuition is telling me something elseÖ Yeah, "the majority argument" is not good enough for me.
And please donít give me the examples of professional athletes! My dogs are NOT professional athletes. Theyíre just three happy dogs that like to play. Professional athletes train 6 days a week, two times a day, for several hours. My dogs train two to three time a week for 5 to 10 minutesÖ You must be joking that this could hurt them, right? I understand that Bu, running a course at 11 months might make you think I train agility every day with her. I donít. I train agility-related things (cik&cap, left&right, go onÖ) every day and then, when it comes to agility, everything is just so easy. I could run any jumpers course with no weaves with her on her THIRD time between obstacles! Why? Because she knew everything there is to know about agility WEEKS before she was allowed to do ANY agility! Agility is really easy, you donít need to drill things. Maybe you need a Samoyed to make it so easy with every next dogJ. But thatís pretty much it.
Agility is really small in Slovenia, nobody takes it too seriously, itís pretty easy to qualify for WCÖ Maybe thatís my advantage. I just donít take it so seriously. I take it so easy that I take my hot-shot world-class agility dogs climbing in the mountains on weekly basis, risking really bad injuries that could never happen on a predictable terrain like agility course, stressing their joints way more as they could ever be stressed on agility courseÖ They also donít go to physiotherapists, messages, chiropractors and are not on any special diets. Theyíre not treated as athletes, because theyíre not. Theyíre just three happy, healthy dogs that like to play.
Yeah, itís just a play, itís just a game, our favourite game. Thatís why I never understood that you should leave your puppy itís puppyhood and donít start working with him too earlyÖ HmÖ I thought puppyhood is all about playing, no? And I thought that agility is all about playing, no? HmÖ I would say: what a perfect match! And no, I donít think that drilling puppies over jumps is a good thing. Even more: I donít think that drilling ANY dog over jumps is a good thing. Take it easy, itís just agility.
no, I also don't think that I'm putting any mental stress on my puppies.
I think mental stress is put on dogs that start training agility later
in their life and their owners try to
prepare them for competition in shortest time possible.
Since I start training them at 2 months, I have 16
months to go and trust me, you don't need to put any pressure on anybody
if you have 16 months of time! What I see in my classes is that those
that are in a hurry, want to train more as I would advice and tend to
skip basics are exactly those that waited till one year of age and then
try to prepare a dog for competition in 6 months. I don't need to do
I also don't think you need to wait that dogs are mentally ready for competition. I think YOU must be mentally ready for competition before you go to one. Dogs don't know they're at competition. They just want to have fun. If you make sure they do have fun, they have nothing to be prepared for. My dogs are mentally ready for competition at 4 months. Because I know I can assure them a winning feeling after it, no matter what happens.
One final thought: we donít stop playing when we grow old. We grow old when we stop playing. Aiken was my last dog that I took a youth from. All my other dogs will stay young 'till the day they die, no matter how hard it is to lose a young dog. But I owe them that. I owe them to allow them to die young, they deserved that. Thatís why Lo is not ever going into retirement and considering how well she does at 10 years make me think I must be doing something rightÖ
Yeah, I know this was long and you probably got to know more as you ever wanted to knowÖ But hey, you asked! And after all, this is my favourite topicÖ
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