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Agility is good for dogs part II



It’s interesting, some people responded by “exactly the way I’m thinking” to my Agility is good for dogs article, while others commented that “you might be right, but I prefer to err on the side of caution and don’t work at all until 1 year of age” – seems like somebody didn’t understand my point… My point is exactly that I prefer to err on the side  of caution too… Only that *I* think that starting early is BETTER and SAFER for the dog as starting later in life because when bones&joints are still developing, you can make them develop into stronger bones&joints, while limiting puppy’s activity will result in weaker bones&joints.


I do know that majority's opinion is that starting young is not good. BUT - just because it's majority's opinion, it doesn't mean it's true, does it? When in a history was majority right anyway??? Hm... Never? How many leaders were elected by majority that did lots of bad for mankind? How many people were convicted for opinions that majority found wrong and dangerous while we all know today they’re simple facts? Didn’t every thought that was not majority’s thought got attacked by majority? Even if time had shown that it was truth and nothing but the truth?


Yeah, I’m philosopher by education. The dangers of tyranny of majority was one of my favourite topics. I have long history of fighting against opinions that are understood as truth just because majority thinks so. I guess I was personally never so affected by majority because I was never too interested in what other people thought. I was always interested in dogs only. I didn’t listen when majority thought Aiken would never be able to run a course. I didn’t listen when majority told me that Lo would never be able to do agility because of her fear of heights. I didn’t listen when majority told me that I couldn’t succeed with La because she wouldn’t stay on the start line. I didn’t listen when majority told me that Bu would never be any good since she showed no drive as a puppy. And I didn’t listen when majority told me that even though I got running contacts on La, I would never get them with a BC.

Of course, you have every right to have your opinion, I don't care if you start after 12th month if you think it's in the best interest of your dog. I understand that everything you do, you do it because you believe that it's best for your dog and I don't want you to do anything different. I just want you to understand that even though I'm doing the opposite of what you're doing, I'm doing it because I believe it's in best interest of my dogs too. My opinion is based on researches with jumping horses, on facts that my boyfriend who is a doctor is telling me about development of human's musculoskeletal system, on my vet's opinion and on what she sees after she takes an x-ray of my 10-year-old dog (that had her first agility training at 7 weeks!) and on my own observation of mine and my students' dogs.


Yes, while you might think that making a young dog go through 5 low jumps two times a week is a trauma that might cause problems, *I* think that it's a preparation for long and healthy life, free of injuries. I think that if you keep your puppy away from activity, their muscle&tendons will in fact be so weak that a puppy jumping off the couch might end up with problems.  I also think that if you don't jump a dog at all until 12th month and then heave jumps to full height in a couple of months, you're ruining your dog's joints which are not ready for the job and even more, since there is no muscle, needed for jumping, built in a dog like that (even if he is otherwise well fit and regularly on walks), stress on joints is really huge and this is something *I* would never do to my dog.


It’s like limiting running&jumping to a kid until he is 25 or so (that’s the time that famous growth plates that some agility handlers are x-raying to see if they’re closed before they start any kind of jumping with the dog, close in humans) and then all of the sudden make them play soccer two times a week… How good could that be for their knees??? In that game that kids play with jumping over elastic band (Gummitwist or Elastics), I did more jumping as a little girl as my dogs ever will and my joints are all fine, thank you for your concernJ.


Of course, I'm also not advocating to drill puppies over jumps, but I do think that starting early and then going really, really slowly prepares a body and you're risking LESS as you do if you start jumping adult dog all of the sudden. Researches in horses showed the same and you can also read what research on people showed on my website with “Agility is good for dogs” article.

All this data is telling me the same thing: starting early, certainly BEFORE the development is finished, helps building muscle&bone and will make your dog stay fit LONGER as if you don't do it. That's also my answer to a question how I keep them fit for so long: early agility, walking them for at least 2 hours every day and at least 6 hours in the mountains every week - but it's not a real program, I do it because I love hiking in the mountains and it's my major reason to have dogs. Agility is really not so important to me. I certainly wouldn't climb mountains for that!

But one thing is sure: anything I do, I don’t do it for the sake of results. The reason why I start early is because I think it’s better for the dogs. The reason why I train running contacts is because I love all running aspects of agility and none of static aspects of agility (that’s also the answer to a question why I don’t have start line stays or stopped contacts or why I hate table – I just find all this very very boring, I’m in agility to play with my dogs and staying still is just not our idea of fun, sorry, wrong person, wrong dogs). The reason why I try to make my turns as tight as it gets is because I believe that the beauty of the sport is in the details, because it’s in the details that things get interesting. For example, I only got to love obedience when I figured out it’s all about the details. Sure, if heel, sit and down are just heel, sit and down to you, things are really boring, but when you go into the details, things get interesting: how to train that or another detail, that’s where all the challenge, all the fun and all the passion starts.


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