Dog Agility Downtime Benefits

time off from dog agilityI have been told you have two choices in regards to time off.  Either you schedule the time or something will force you to take it.  What does that mean exactly?  It means that we all need downtime from work to stay healthy and if we don’t take it sickness or injury will force it.  This holds true for our dogs as well.  Taking a down season from the rigors and stress of training and competition could actual prolong your dog’s agility career.

We sometimes forget that, though we call it a game, agility is a sport and our dogs are athletes.  Even at the lowest levels, time off is critical to our dog’s health and well being.  It gives a mental break for less motivated dogs and it gives high drive dogs time to heal physically from any soft tissue issues they may be harboring.

Now that doesn’t mean it is a time of vegetation, the opposite is true.  This is the time to try different activities such as swimming or hiking and learning new talents like new tricks, rally or even obedience. Maybe you have a terrier and always wanted to try Earth Dog.  Or a German Shepherd and what to give herding a go.  Finding new ways to work different muscle groups and different activities to work different parts of the brain is the objective.

But how long is long enough?  According to veterinarian rehab specialists, a minimum of 8-10 weeks is required to give a dog’s muscles time to rejuvenate.  Then you are looking at about 12 weeks to get your dog back into full swing with dog agility starting with simple exercises such as jump grids and short sequences.  This is also the time to work on “problem” obstacles in a slow and methodical way.

Some of you really have no problem with this schedule as weather prevents you from gathering for competitions anyway.  But as spring gives way you really have to fight the urge to “speed things along” by shortening the times.  Remember, you are going to have 9 months of full play time so don’t short yourself or your dog.  You don’t know what evils lurk beneath the skin of your dog that could be solved with some well deserved downtime.