Can every dog be entered into an agility sport? No. Not every dog should be doing agility and may become injured or aggravate a pre-existing condition if the owner does not perform some pre-screening before entering the phase of intensive training. The pre-screening should at a minimum consist of hip, elbow, and eye checks.
Veterinarians should be informed what is planned for the dog and the dog should be radiographed for both hip and elbow dysplasia. The owner should reconsider their plans for agility if the dog is rated anything less than ‘Fair’. Unobstructed vision is also critical. Because agility is a new type of dog competition, it is not unusual for a veterinarian to be unaware of the requirements for agility. In this case, it is very helpful for the owner to have available a short video (2-3 minutes long) of a dog performing the equipment; this will give the veterinarian an idea of the physical requirements necessary for the sport. Both the owner and veterinarian should be particularly sensitive to the dog’s weight. What is a good healthy weight for a pet dog with normal activity expectations may be too heavy for agility training and competition.
Poor performance or injuries, which can include muscle strains and other soft tissue injuries, are nearly always due to the ‘weekend athlete syndrome’ — i.e. the dog is overweight and/or not conditioned properly. On-going conditioning separate from the equipment training is vital to keeping the dog’s agility performance high and injury-free. Weight bearing exercise is the most appropriate; for example, walks interspersed with short sprints condition both the dog and the handler. Long distance, low to the ground games of ball and/or Frisbee is particularly helpful for building the dog’s cardiovascular and/or muscular capacity. Swimming can also be beneficial for improving cardiovascular and muscular capacity.
Join us on September 27-29, 2013, at the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage headquarters, in Elizabeth, CO, for the “Advanced Massage for the Canine Athlete Workshop” with Ken Bain!
This workshop was developed for the canine massage therapist who wants to work in the world of competitive sporting dogs. The advanced workshop will build on what you have learned in the RMSAAM Level 2 Sports Massage Program. Some of the topics that will be covered include:
- Stretching the canine athlete
- Evaluating range of motion
- Lines of compensation
- Introduction to trigger point therapy
- Working at dog sporting events
- Putting it all together into a massage routine that most effectively addresses the needs of the canine athlete.
As a canine massage therapist, you can take your practice to a whole new level by working events such as Agility, Frisbee, and Flyball competitions. These dogs need your help, and with this advanced technique workshop, you’ll learn the tools to provide such a service.