Do you have the greatest retriever ever born living with you? I know I do (actually a bunch of them)! The interesting thing I have noticed is that, just like their human athlete counterparts, the canine athletes today are being pushed to their limits both physically and mentally and, just like the human athlete, they need to be in top physical shape to perform at there best. To get your retriever in top physical shape you need a combination of food and physical fitness. So how does one go from a happy little puppy full of promise to a top champion in field, agility, conformation, obedience, or other canine discipline?
Christine Zink, DVM, PhD has written Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete to help get the best from your great retriever. The great thing about Christine is that she is not only a veterinarian and research scientist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, but she also competes in performance events with her dogs. This gives her a unique perspective on what it takes to keep your retriever healthy and injury-free.
Christine walks you through all aspects of your canine athlete beginning with structure and locomotion, moving onto picking out a great performance dog, maintaining and conditioning, and finally dealing with injury and other problems affecting performance of your dog. Each chapter is filled with diagrams and pictures of the concept that is presented. When Christine talks about hip and elbow dysplasia there are actual x-rays that are used to highlight both normal and dysplastic dogs. This attention to detail really helps solidify the understanding of the chapter.
I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Conditioning the Performance Dog”. I liked how Christine starts by outlining the obvious benefits of conditioning followed by the more important sections on how to structure a fitness program with ideas about types of exercise and how to vary exercise regimes leading up to a competition much like a marathon runner preparing for the Olympics. It helped me understand that preparing my Labradors for their next dog show, hunt test, or other activity is more than just taking them on their daily walks, swims, or training sessions. It’s all about making sure my dog is in its best shape to perform at the highest level the day of the competition. This requires a thoughtful plan and keeping a keen eye on the overall dog in terms of its physical and mental health.
I highly recommend this book to anybody who is living the Retriever Life! Even if you do not have the next big champion laying on your couch, Christine’s philosophy of keeping dogs in great shape is one that will benefit every retriever. A huge side benefit is that as your dog gets in better shape, so do you! Many of the suggested training exercises require your participation. Let’s face it, we could all add a little more exercise into our lives!
Category : Book Reviews