by Karen Gloor
Keeping a Beagle fit is a tough task at best. I don't' know about you all, but if there is food to be had, NEA will find it - even if it means opening the refrigerator door to do so! Being that NEA is an agility Beagle, it is of utmost importance to me to be sure that she is fit and able to handle the stress of training and showing with minimal risk of injury.
Beyond walks, play sessions and food management, there are many exercises you can do prior to a training session, or while at the show to be sure your Beagle is ready to perform. Before you begin, be sure you have a motivator - this can be a tasty morsel of food or a favorite toy.
With your dog in a stand, take your motivator and slowly move it from in front of the snout to between your dogs legs. Your dog should follow it down with their snout, thereby lowering their front end while keeping their back end upright. This is the "bow." Repeat this 3 - 5 times before moving on. This stretches the shoulders, back and hind end.
Kneel on the ground on one knee, placing the other foot in front of you so that your leg is forming a "bridge" just high enough for your dog to fit under. With your dog in a down on one side of the bridge, place the hand with the motivator on the other side and entice your dog to crawl under while maintaining a down. Repeat 3 - 5 times. This stretches the shoulders and hind legs.
With your dog in a stand, place one hand on the top of your dogs shoulders (withers) and gently lift their hind legs until the dog is almost vertical. Reverse the process by raising the front end leaving their hind legs on the ground (much like they are "standing"). Repeat 2 times, each end. This stretches all major muscles in the back, legs and shoulders.
With the dog in a stand, take your motivator and entice them to perform a circle. Do this in both directions. Repeat 3 - 5 times in both directions. This exercise stretches the back.
With your dog in a sit-stay, walk away at least 20 feet. Call your Beagle to you, giving them the motivator when they reach you. Repeat 4 times. This exercise "wakes up" the cardiovascular system and gets their heart pumping.
Jumping (Do this exercise only after performing one or several of the previous exercises.)
Set up a practice jump at the height your dog would normally jump in a show. Have your dog jump while running with you, send your dog to the jump, do figure 8's…make this fun and very motivating. Again, this starts the heart pumping and gets the adrenaline flowing.
These exercises, along with walks, play sessions and food management should enable you and your Beagle to enjoy a happy and healthy agility career.