My wife went to a Match show with our second youngest bitch called Fiona. Fiona is an adorable young Irish Wolfhound with the demeanor of a princess and manners of a queen: she is also beautifull, though yet immature in composition, as she is just a bit short from 2 years of age. She is also a bit shy and doesn’t want to have any stranger touching and meddling with her, so we have decided that she has to train the show side, too.
Match shows are excellent for that: a dog show in which the breeds are mixed and the main idea is to train both the dogs and the trainers to act accordingly in a real show. So it’s a play on its own right.
And the results are unimportant because of the fact that the match shows don’t hold any official status.
The main thing is that Fiona got a lot of self-esteem and courage from the show, which we saw later that day on our normal walk in the woods. But now I’m going ahead of myself and neglecting the subject.
In the match show my wife had to talk a lot with people interested in Irish Wolfhounds: this is normal, as the breed isn’t very well known nor doesn it exist in very large numbers in here. She told about a lady who stopped her and started the discussion by asking: “That dog doesn’t need much exercise, right?”
She was astounded.
In her own words (later to me when she told about the incident): “Show me a dog that doesn’t need exercise at all”.
Every dog breed needs exercise according to their breed specific and individual need. Whereas a tiny Tibetian Spaniel with arthrithis might get along fine with three 15 minute walks a day, a working German Shepard wouldn’t be able to do it’s work without a several hours of training and exercise in a day. The question sounds absurd in it’s most innocent meaning which I could imagine hearing from a young kid who just wants to play with the dog, inside while it’s raining outside. But from a person in a dog show?
I have been asked several times after the time our male, Ness, entered the first lure-coursing competitions and started to make good performance time and again, about how we train and exercise him. Thus far I have been quiet about it, because as far as we can see it, we don’t train our dogs at all. We don’t have an exercise plan or anything. So all we do with the dogs goes by what we think the dog needs as a trained athlete to perform in a competition so that it will not get hurt nor feel discomfort while running or after the competition.
Our normal walk in the woods takes something around 2 hours at a time. The dogs run free all the time, finding their own amusement in the bushes, sometimes -if they’re lucky- chasing some deer who come too close by. But they are moving on their own, making their own decisions about speed and distance which they go.
Lately, due to the fact that the first competition of the year for us is the qualifier to the European Masters, we have done some sprint trainings: one of us stays with the dogs at one point and the other walks further for about 200-300 meters off. And the dogs are called to the one standing alone. They take a fast sprint, speeding up to the maximum speed and then slowing down.
And this is only done after about an hour of free roaming, just to make sure that the muscles are fully warmed up and ready for the strain.
It has worked for us so far.
But still I cannot understand a person who asks the question this lady asked.
“That dog doesn’t need much exercise, right?”
The most proper answer, I think, would have been that not more than any other breed. Which in itself is pretty much, really: any dog should have at least 1.5 hours of exercise a day, all put together. That means at least 6 times 15 minutes walkies, if you don’t have the time for any longer. And most of that she should he running free, unleashed, for the exercise to be effective….
Oh, yes, Fiona, who has usually been one of the pack, was actually the one trying to find prey to chase during the whole 2.5 hours walk, even though we had some very hard downhill pulls on them. She still had stamina to play with the youngest of the pack (Duana, 1 yr.) after we came back home, whereas our ‘older’ two decided to rest. She was the active one, full of self-confidence and spirit.
Just the way I like my Irish Wolfhounds to be on the walkies. Active, keen on everything and moving free.
Not exercising. Nor training.