Sven van Straaten: +27 76 590 8501

Last updated: October 2011

Fitness for dogs in breed show competition is a vital and critical aspect. Like any successful athlete, a dog must follow a programme to fulfil his maximum potential. Saying this, every animal has his limitations as an athlete. Some animals will perform better than others due to their inherent capabilities.

So, the training programme would start with base training, for example, low impact distance training (LSD, long slow distance). The second stage, once the animal shows sufficient fitness and stamina after a period of time, is interval and recovery exercises. The next, and last stage, would be speed work.

In the show ring, a fit dog will thus sustain performance and movement better than a dog that is unfit. The unfit dog is more likely to show fatigue and falter in stride and movement.

Altitude plays a huge role in performance in South Africa in any sport. There is a difference in altitude from the coast (sea level) to the interior (Johannesburg) of 1700m. Thus, a dog that comes from the coast, having 100% fitness level, will need to operate at a 15% higher level in order to compete with a dog from the Reef (Johannesburg and surrounds) with the same fitness level. So, in a nutshell, a coastal dog needs to be fitter than a dog at altitude, to be able to perform at the same level in competitions held at altitude.