Petra & Tyler — 2008 & 2009 National Obedience Champion

OTCH Count Tyler Show Me The Money UDX3

The National Obedience Invitational was held in Long Beach, California. It is a grueling competition challenging the competitors' mental and physical endurance. The first day of competition each dog and handler team goes in the ring six times to perform a combination of utility and open exercises. In addition, each dog does one set of stays (3-minute out of sight sit stay and 5-minute out of sight down stay). Only the top 32 dogs progress to the second day of competition! On the second day, each round is a head to head elimination round! Two teams compete against each other by performing a combination of utility and open exercises … one team moves on, the other team does not. Needless to say, there is no room for error! The top 4 teams end up in the ring 5 times before lunch! The final two teams need to perform a full round of Open and a full round of Utility. Whew!! Exhausting!! Many of the dogs began to tire on the second day.

As a result, they made errors which knocked them out of the competition. Tyler, however, did not get tired. He was still full of energy at the end of the second day. We all know that it is difficult to be mentally sharp when we are physically exhausted. That is why I incorporated physical conditioning into my training program in preparation for the National Obedience Invitational. Six months before the competition I introduced Tyler to the land treadmill. I progressed him by slowly increasing the length of time on the treadmill, speed and incline. Eventually Tyler was jogging on the treadmill for 20 minutes, 3 times a week at a maximum incline. Shortly before the competition I tapered his workouts down to 15 minutes on the treadmill twice a week. Once a week we went on a 30 minute off-leash hike. The hike was incorporated not only for physical exercise, but also as a mental outlet … so he could just "be a dog" (as my trainer, Linda Brennan, would say!) In addition, I stretched him every week to make sure he was maintaining full range of motion and for early detection of any strains, injuries, etc.

Now that the Invitational is behind us, I fully intend to continue with Tyler's conditioning. In order to minimize the impact on his joints, I will now utilize the underwater treadmill three times a week. I believe that conditioning is an important part of a working dog's life. Not only does it keep the dog in peak physical condition, it is a critical for preventing injuries.