How Agility Dogs Maintain their Athletic Edge.
Agility is the ability to change the body's position quickly and efficiently. This kind of nimbleness requires balance, coordination, strength, speed, and endurance.
Because it’s physically demanding, your dog must be healthy and in a good physical condition. As such, it takes a specific regimen to ensure that a dog is at its best.
Looking at the whole picture
Using her years of experience, Certified Canine Athlete Specialist Lauren Zimmerman takes a holistic approach to dog agility training. She explains:
“I look at a canine as a whole, embodied athlete, and what we need to do make sure the athlete is running its best. So, we're looking at nutrition, supplements, a cardio regimen, strength training, flexibility, and body awareness, (or proprioception, which is their awareness of their body in space and how to move their limbs independently of each other) -- all the things that also typify a human athlete, especially if you're looking at the top-level professional athletes, such as Olympians. I mold my canine clients and my own dogs around that same type of holistic approach. So, you need to take all those factors into account to make sure that the dogs are given the best regimen that they can to be successful whether they’re playing agility sports or not.”
You might think that most of the training time is spent on agility work. But, as Zimmerman says, “My dogs do fitness training three to four days a week. In fact, they do more fitness work than they do agility work because it’s essential to keep the muscles, tendons and ligaments moving smoothly.”
Also, there are two types of dog agility training. As Zimmerman describes it, there's a backyard version wherein the goal is to ensure dogs are physically fit. Then there are dogs who compete in agility trials. Like any sport, it can be trained and competed in at different levels. It can be a nice hobby for you and your dog, or you can compete more seriously at top-level international competitions. The common theme of both types of agility training is that they’re enriching for the dog and can be a bonding experience for dogs and their humans.
Nutrition & Supplementation
Another vital component is filling any nutritional gaps a dog may have to ensure it’s getting all the “fuel” it needs to function at peak level.
One characteristic of exercise is increased metabolism. Providing the right amount of energy from the right sources is paramount to feeding canine athletes.
Energy for exercise comes from fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. For extremely athletic dogs, the energy contribution from protein is small. Fats and carbohydrates are the primary energy providers for exercise for these dogs.
As far as supplementation goes, Zimmerman has given her dogs various products over the years, but says that no other supplement comes close to the benefits that MYOS Canine Muscle Formula provides. In fact, she shared that she’d never seen a product make such a huge difference in all of her dogs’ lives for completely different reasons. Despite experiencing various illnesses like Rocky Mountain Fever and Lyme Disease that could reduce muscle mass, each time the dogs were tested for muscle loss, the result showed they were maintaining their muscle mass and now, as they’ve gotten past their medical issues, all four dogs have gained more muscle.
Zimmerman goes on to say, “Myos gives my dogs a competitive advantage. Without it, they would not have the muscle mass they do, which increases their speed, making them more competitive.”