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Care of the Canine Athlete



A Complete Guide to Sports Dog Fitness

The ultimate book for Agility competitors, it will help you get the best from, and do the best by, your dog.

Leading sports dog vet Lowri Davies and the Smart Clinic team offer outstanding advice on every aspect of preparing and caring for the canine competitor.

In Chapter one, Evolution of the Canine Athlete, Davies considers the numerous changes in structure and behaviour that domestication of the dog has bought. She also studies gait patterns and how dogs move, focusing on front and hind limb confirmation, as well as what happens when a dog jump.

Chapter two, How to Make an Athlete, considers a puppy’s development from birth to maturity, looking at how physical and emotional development are linked, and how to provide an environment that will be most likely to produce a confident, well-adjusted juvenile.

In Chapter three, Feeding for Performance, Davies explains this is an area often ignored but one that has a huge impact. She examines what we want from a diet, looking at the role of carbohydrate, fat and protein, as well as explaining body condition score and lean body mass. She also looks at the role of water, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and electrolytes, including when and how to feed, and feeding for healthy joints.

Chapter four moves on to optimising energy and exercise. Davies focuses on the requirements of exercise and how the body adapts to meet these requirements and increase energy production. She also looks at how the body adapts to long term exercise or training, and how this applies to our agility dogs.

Chapter five considers foundation training for the young athlete. Davies stresses that basic training in young dogs can determine whether an athlete is made or damaged for life. She discusses what an agility dog needs, athlete development stages, as well as providing exercises for development.

In Chapter six, Conditioning the Agility Dog, Davies takes us through the components of conditioning,  these being; specificity, individuality and reversibility. She looks at conditioning methods including; aerobic or endurance training, anaerobic or strength training, proprioceptive training and agility or flexibility training, as well as fatigue and warming up and cooling down.

Chapter seven, Skill Training- Taper and Fatigue, looks at strategies for performance and skill enhancement. Davies considers types of fatigue and the effect this has on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system. She also takes us through skill acquisition and exercises for strength, core strength and power, as well providing a sample training diary.

Chapter eight asks why dogs get injured. Davies examines internal factors such as confirmation, age, body condition score, cardiovascular fitness, muscular conditioning, innate ability and nutrition, as well as extrinsic factors.

In chapter nine, Davies takes us through common injuries of the agility dog, focusing on fore and hind limb issues.

Chapter ten moves on to physiotherapy techniques, outlining and explaining the following-

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage and soft tissue therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Thermotherapy
  • Electro modalities such as cold laser, therapeutic ultrasound and electro stimulation.

Finally, in chapter eleven, Davies looks at a series of therapeutic exercises, including;

  • Controlled lead walking
  • Square standing
  • Figure of eight
  • Balance cushions
  • Pole stepping
  • Front leg lifts


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