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Basic condition for a dog - high performance must stand on solid foundations

Updated: Mar 14, 2022


In dogs, as in humans, it is necessary to build an absolute basis for later training superstructures in the form of strength, speed or endurance. We will call this basis "basic condition" or also "general endurance / condition". Every active athlete already knows what we are going to talk about. Yes! These are, for example, the long winter volume runs that build you in basic condition. Many sprinters hate them and take them as a necessary evil, and marathon runners have them for breakfast. Why apply this training to a dog? What is their significance for his condition? We will answer everything in this article.

Heart and lungs

In proportion to the size and weight of the dog, his heart and lungs are far larger than ours. The heart of a dog makes up 0.7 - 0.9% of a dog's weight, while a human makes up only 0.3% of its total weight. However, the functions perform the same and honest training is required for stable quality performance. The process of oxygenation of blood and its transport across the body is very effective due to the structure of the body and the primary purpose of the dog. It is therefore not surprising that in breeds such as hounds and greyhounds, VO2max can reach up to four times the top marathon runner. It follows that the burden for the effective development of the dog's condition will be in a different dimension than our lazy winter paddock.

The meaning of basic condition training, what is happening in the dog's body

The basic condition serves as a base plate for later training. It can also be imagined as a supporting pillar of a high-rise building. The larger and stronger the base, the greater the subsequent load on the body. Therefore, this phase of training is the alpha and omega of all later training. The effort put into these trainings has its demonstrable benefits at a later stage. Regardless of whether your dog is a musher puller, agile or weight puller, the need to build basic condition is the same for everyone. The specialization is based on the basic condition in later special trainings.

Leyla POI, Foto: Kristýna Bečvářová

By training the basic condition, your dog builds and expands the aerobic zone. The muscles get used to the slight accumulation of lactic acid. Slow muscle fibers are trained and learn to manage oxygen and energy efficiently. The heart and circulatory system improve its ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Under this load, the source of energy is almost exclusively fat, which is also the most efficient fuel.

If your dog is overweight, instead of looking for a "light" version of the food, you should definitely include more exercise in this load, because unlike humans, the effect of weight reduction is almost immediate.

Overweight is the biggest enemy

Remember that a deviation of 1.5 kg for a dog with an ideal weight of 25 kg is 6% extra weight! In relation to humans, it is as if a 65-kilo runner gained 4 kg. Anyone who is actively running knows that even one kilogram upstairs is very familiar at times and joints. Overweight in the long run significantly shortens the life of the dog, not only sports, but also the overall. Joints and ligaments are overloaded and it is only a matter of time before they fail. Do not take allusions to your dog's weight in person. Be objective and admit that it's time for a change. Your dog will give it back to you for more years of devoted coexistence and love.

Training description

Do you ride your dog free at the bike? Does he go jogging with you? Does he go swimming with you? All these activities are a non-violent form of basic fitness training. The ideal period for these trainings is outside the racing season, in which the training focuses on the specializations themselves. Therefore, do not leave your partners at home and try to take them to your paddocks or nature rides as often as possible. This effort will pay off several times during the racing season. Of course, we also train general endurance in the racing season, but only to a limited extent and only in longer periods between races. If we would like to express the frequency of these trainings as a percentage in relation to the period, then 80% of all trainings outside the racing season for at least 1.5 - 2 months will consist of basic fitness training. In the time just before the season and in the season it will be only 60%. These values ​​are again individual and each rider or runner has their own well-established procedures.

We do not measure basic fitness training for kilometers, but we monitor the time during which the dog is in constant motion. Ideally 20-50 minutes, but not less than 20 minutes. Even experienced runners do not measure kilometers, because they know very well that it depends on an adequate heart rate (70-80% of the maximum heart rate) and the time for which the body is exposed to this higher heart rate. (Note: The maximum heart rate and specific heart rate for mild to moderate exercise is an unexplored landscape in dogs, and I firmly believe that a publication describing these processes will appear soon.)

Underlined and summed up: If you regularly take long walks with your dog, during which he has enough exercise, goes swimming or actively runs other canine sports, then you are satisfied.

In conclusion

We don't really have to call basic training at all. This is an active life for your dog. Long walks and plenty of varied exercise. Although it may seem like a banality and many of you are tapping your forehead, why do we call it training at all, so know that many dogs only know their bed in the apartment or the cage in the garden. They only look outside when walking or racing. Basic condition is not only a way to better performance, but also a long and especially healthy life for your dog.


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