Strength and conditioning have always been an essential part of the training program for Silvia Trkmans agility dogs. Her dogs are known for high speed, tight turns, running contacts, and long and injury-free careers.
Silvia has always been running with her dogs, but canicross and pulling she was introduced to recently as her border collie Ta had problems building muscles.
From bad habit to a favorite sport
- I immediately liked the idea because I guess Ta was trying to suggest that from the day I got her. She would always pull, constantly! On whatever collar, in whatever direction - nothing would stop her. It turned from being an annoying habit to our favorite sport! When you get the right equipment, pulling all of a sudden becomes pleasant for both you and the dog! Dog gear for pulling is nowadays what I use the most - pretty much daily!
Both fast and slow
Silvia uses pulling as strength and conditioning for her dogs in two different ways.
- Canicross, running with the dog, is such an excellent resistance training for my dog and so much more fun than unassisted running for me! This type of pulling is super cardio training for both you and the dog because you can maintain a constant speed and duration. It also requires strength.
Walking slowly with resistance they also do regularly.
- We do this just for maybe 10 minutes per walk as it tires them quickly and requires a lot of strength. I love this as I can see how much it improved Ta's posture. When pulling, I saw Ta lower her head and tail and extend her rear feet behind her for the very first time. That is helping with her jumping form as well, as she used to tuck her rear feet before!
This type of training they do both on flat ground and uphill. If your dog is not pulling on the leash, Silvia recommends you to place a toy or food as a reward. You can start with short distances in the beginning, then walk back and forth from one reward station to the other.
For Silvias agility dogs, pulling has been a great addition to other strengthening tricks they do. You can read more about it here.
Silvia is known for bringing every dog she ever had to the very top of the sport since 1992. She is three times World Champion with two different dogs, five times European Open winner, with four different dogs and 22 times National Champion in Slovenia with five different dogs of three different breeds. Silvia has been on the National Championships podium and World Team member with every dog she's ever had - mostly with at least two dogs at the time – sometimes four.