How your Attitude Towards your Dog may Affect their Health

So, for dog agility blog action day, I’m going to focus on a different aspect of attitude–how your attitude about your agility dog may impact their health.

Think back to when you started agility.  If you’re like me, you saw it on TV, thought it would be cool, looked at the dog sitting next to you, and said “You can do that!”  Your dog was your pet.  You hung out, went on walks, went to the vet as needed.  Maybe he was a couple of pounds overweight, but not too bad for a couch potato.

Fast forward.  Now your dog is competing at agility trials.  You go one or two weekends a month, depending on what’s close-by.  He’s still your pet.  He’s probably in better shape now since he has agility class once a week.  Maybe you’ve changed to a different dog food–something more natural, or geared more for performance.  You may be at the vet more–your dog might have the occasional soft-tissue injury, or stress-related diarrhea.  He’s still your pet, but you spend a lot more time together then you used to. 🙂

Fast forward again.  Maybe your first dog is now happily retired, and you’re on your next agility dog.  This time, you decided to get a high-powered herding breed, and people keep telling you how much potential he has.  This dog is no weekend warrior, he’s an athlete.  Now, you’re training several times a week, and showing almost every weekend.  To maintain that schedule, you spend a lot of time on your dog’s fitness.  You do conditioning several times a week, have your dog spend time on the treadmill, and have developed a good warmup and cool down program.  Your dog not only sees his regular vet, but also the chiropractor, a veterinary acupuncturist, and a massage therapist.  He’s on supplements to protect his joints.   You’ve researched and selected the best diet you can find.  You’re a team, so you KNOW when he’s the slightest bit “off,” and off to the vet you go.

Physically, Dog #2 may be healthier and in better shape then your first agility dog was when he started.  And if you are going to expect your dog to be an elite athlete at that level, you definitely need to change some things to keep your dog healthy.  Remember that agility is a sprint, and demands a lot from your dog for a short period of time.  Keeping your dog fit and thin will go a long way towards minimizing injury, and prolonging their career.  Joint support with glucosamine and fatty acids are easy things to do that may help in the long term.  But remember, Dog #2 isn’t a tool.  He’s a dog, a pet, just like your couch potato buddy was when you started all those years ago.  Don’t forget in the rush of ribbons and competitions and Nationals that he’s also your companion.  Skip a show every now and then, and just enjoy hanging out.  Take a hike.  Doggy brains (and people brains for that matter) need a break every now and then.  YOUR attitude about who your dog is may have changed, but remember your dog is always that, A DOG, first.

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Trip practicing being a couch potato...

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