by Dale C. Johnson, DVM
There are 3 general conditions that have a detrimental affect on performance:
The moment fatigue sets in, it will begin to diminish the level of performance. Energy and focus is diverted away from the activity and utilized by the body to maintain function. Designing a training and conditioning program to suit the type of work or athletic event your dog competes in can minimize the affects of fatigue. The program should address: Genetics (breeding), Training, Conditioning, Nutrition, and Health Care.
The effects of pain on performance usually go unnoticed. The dog has the ability to minimize pain by altering body movement in such a way that the abnormality is unperceivable by the naked eye. This altered movement created by the primary cause of pain puts altered forces upon the rest of the body. In the athletic or active dog these abnormal forces lead to secondary and tertiary gait problems. At some point in this chain of events breakdown occurs and an injury will be the result.
If the drive to compete is not in the dog it does not matter what kind of condition the dog is in it will not perform at it's full potential. This psychology could be a result of genetics or training, or it could be medical. Both of the two previous affectors can alter the psychology or drive of the canine athlete. Sometimes the will to perform will over-ride these conditions. This can be good for a single event, but can push the body past normal limits which can affect future performances. The effects of fatigue or pain will then act to divert attention away from the competitive performance or daily task. Before beginning any animal behavior therapy the medical problems should be resolved.