Celebrate the Whippet Breed

Reconditioning Older Dogs


Getting Back in Condition

Kim Otero, Wheatland Whippets

[The question was asked:] “We have been off for the summer with our racing whippets and I want to know from those of you who have raced year in and year out, how long does it take to get a dog back in great shape? How much time do you need beforehand to get them started? Do you need 4, 6 or 8 weeks to condition them?”

The amount of time really depends on the dog and how out of shape they are. Hopefully, not too much extra fat, that should always be avoided -- makes conditioning much more complicated. How long depends on many factors: age, willingness to free exercise, previous injuries, and how out of condition. I would say a minimum of 3 to 6 weeks.

Start slow. Light yard play and leash walks. Move along to more intense free-running sessions. Again, what you get out of this really depends upon your dog's individual personality and how much they put out during free runs. Something that I’ve noticed is that they get more excited and run harder when you go somewhere new to exercise. So, after the initial yard play tuneup, take them out to the country or large property or some other favorite spot.

Next, when they seem reasonably fit, start lure running. I suggest starting slow -- single run, hand-slipped. Several days later, perhaps 2 or 3 runs, keeping up free running between races. Now, of course, this doesn't work too well with a dog that sours on the lure.

Next they should be ready to run at race practice with competition, 3 or 4 programs. Time your regimen to be ready for this date. Most clubs cleverly schedule practice a week before a meet. Once that is done, light but steady workouts the week prior to the meet. Nothing too strenuous this last week before a meet. You want to keep them "fit but fresh."

Kim Otero
Wheatland Whippets