5 Fundamental Training Tips for Sport Dogs This Fall
1.Check your gear
After a long summer break, you are no doubt totally pumped to get out there and run some trails! But hold up, before you go, give all your gear a good checking over. Check that harnesses still fit all dogs properly. Go over all your lines, and check snaps and bungees. If you smashed your helmet last year, it’s time to shop for a new one. Helmets are meant for a single smash. One bonk on the noggin, and it’s done its job. Inspect your rig. Skis and sleds should have the right amount of flex, and all moving parts should be in good order. Look for any cracks or signs of wear. If any of your gear isn’t race ready, repair or replace before the snow gets here.
2. You are what you eat.
If your team has been on maintenance food for the summer, fall training is the time to switch them over to what you plan to run on all winter. The dogs will appreciate higher protein and fat as they begin to get back into their top shape. Much has been written about proper nutrition for pulling dogs, but little is mentioned about the slowest member of the team: you, the musher. You can feed your dogs the best that money can buy. But if you aren’t taking proper care of your body, all the cash you spent on high-quality dog chow is wasted. You need to be in the best shape as well, so you can give it your all – your dogs deserve that.
Related: Canicross In The Snow
3. Train without the dogs.
Get out on the trails, bike, hike, jog, and run. Train without your dog as part of your routine. This will allow you to be faster and fitter. I use my own training time to scout out the trails before I bring the dogs, and as time to focus just on my own fitness, without worrying what the dogs are doing. Joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer can be a great way to help you reach your goals.
4. Plan your season.
Whether you’re doing this recreationally or planning to hit some big races, now’s the time to set your goals. Keeping your goals in your mind during your training helps keep you focused. This time of year, start out slow. Let the dogs build up their stamina and strength slowly. Fall is the time for long slow runs, broken up by the occasional quick sprints. Be sure to give you and the dogs a break from training. Don’t overdo it.
5. Have fun!
The reason you got into mushing? Because it’s fun! Or it is supposed to be. Sometimes training sessions are long, or brutal, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s more hard work than fun. That’s okay too. But at the end of a brutal week of training or bad weather, you’re going to hit the trail one beautiful morning and everything just clicks into place. It was all worth it.
You get what you train for – so get out there and train!
Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!
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