Celebrate the Whippet Breed

Race Training

Beginner's Training for Racing

Gregg Gammie, President, Whippet Racing Association

[Editor's note:] A subscriber to one of the Whippet e-mail groups asked two questions about Whippet racing. The questions were where to find information about training for racing, and how to train at home for the race track. Gregg provides the answers below.

You've asked two very good questions. Where is the information available, and What can I do at home to simulate real practices.

First, there are 4 articles on race training in the FAQ area of the WRA's web site (http://www.whippetracing.org/). Read them all. Apply them when you go to practices.

Second. You will have to get really creative to simulate practice at home. If you can acquire a lure machine and have a friend willing to help, it makes it much easier.

You can use a box about the size of a stall, 10 - 12" wide, about 26" high & about 3 ft long, to run the dog through at home while shaking the squawker at the other side. Close the front of the box with a cardboard flap, put the dog in, and hold it in from behind, then open the flap with the squawker being shaken, or dragged at the end of a string, on the other side. This simulates breaking from a box. Have someone stand 50 -100 yds away and shake the squawker and have the dog run to it then toss it along the ground, so it rolls a distance, when the dog gets close. This assumes the dog is already chasing a lure.

Doing the whip thing is a good start and makes a tremendous difference when you get to a real practice; see "From Whelping Box to Finish Line" at http://www.whippetracing.org/FAQs/racetrn.html or see http://www.whippetview.com/frame.html and go to Training/Conditioning and Muscle Development - "Starting with a New Pup," by Kim Otero, on this. It really is one of the first steps and shouldn't be skipped.

It takes lots of inventiveness to train alone with no equipment. Do what you can. Then make the commitment to attend some practices to polish the dog, introduce it to real boxes and run it with other dogs in a real setting. The first time a dog comes out of the box with another dog, especially, if it has all of its previous running alone, whether hand slipped or from a box, can be a real surprise and isn't the best to have happen at a meet for the first time. I realize that a practice may be no closer than a meet and that going to it may mean as big a commitment as going to a meet. However, the individual time devoted to your dog and the possible prevention of problems at meets and trials is, in my opinion, very much worth it.

If you can spring for a lure machine, do so. Find a place where you can make some runs using it, it doesn't have to be 200 yds for practice, then get a couple friends together make a party of it and work your dogs.

Hope this helps,--
Gregg Gammie
Fax: 801-459-1985


Racing or Lure Coursing

Annie Fitt, Whippet Owner

[Editor's note:] In order to be a successful racer, a Whippet must be keen to chase the lure. Annie Fitt shares how she trains her pups to nurture the chasing instinct.

Breeders need to nurture the chase instinct in their puppies, and owners need to develop it. It doesn't take *much* effort to trigger the desire to chase, but it does take *some*! I would venture to bet that most dogs that fail their JC run have never seen a lure before, and probably have never even been offlead or further away from their owner than the extent of a flexi-lead. With a decent chance to learn what chasing is about, I would bet most would pass without any problem. My dogs are show bred. Indeed, it would be hard to find dogs with *less* performance blood in their pedigrees. I make no claims for speed other than that I know they have very little (for a whippet -- they still are faster than just about every other dog out there...) but I defy anyone to say they lack prey drive and the desire to run. Just ask anyone who has seen the Soup Demons running whether they lack drive! But this is no accident, no gift of god, no bolt out of the blue. The desire to chase has been nurtured in these guys since they opened their eyes. They chased white rabbit fur in the whelping box. As soon as they were old enough to get outside they were introduced to chasing white plastic on the end of a lunge whip. Before they were 4 months old they had been to a race meet and a lure trial to watch other dogs run and catch the excitement, and to be gently introduced to catching the bunny. As they grew I went out of my way to make opportunities for them to practice. Not as often as I would have liked to have done it, but often enough to have maintained an intensity on the lure. They chase tennis balls and frisbees. I am looking forward to them being mature enough to compete. I think I will have nothing to apologize for. I suspect if you closely examine the routines of people who consistently turn out successful performance dogs very few of their puppies are introduced to the lure the first time they are asked to run...

Annie Fitt
& the Ragtag Horde ~ Whippets, of course!