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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Part I of Finnish Agility Dog Survey: Training and Management of Competition-Level Agility Dogs

Inkila, Leena; Hyytiainen, Heli K.; Hielm-Bjorkman, Anna; Junnila, Jouni; Bergh, Anna; Bostrom, Anna

Abstract

Simple Summary Information on training, competition, and management of agility dogs is sparse. To decrease this knowledge gap, Finnish owners and handlers of competition-level agility dogs completed an online questionnaire to describe the agility routines of their dog during one injury-free year. Additional information on competition routines was retrieved from the national competition results database. Typically, competition-level agility dogs trained agility once or twice a week and competed two runs a month. The median total weekly training time was 18 min. Usual speed over the competition course was 4.3 m/s. Artificial turf, with or without filling, and dirt surfaces are used most often. Dogs are warmed up before and cooled down after agility performance. Most dogs visit a massage therapist, physiotherapist, osteopath or other professionals of musculoskeletal care at least every three months. Many dogs undergo conditioning exercises, although often less often than every two weeks. Additionally, agility dogs are walked for a total of 1.5 h a day. Dogs competing at the highest levels competed more but trained less than dogs at lower levels. This is the first investigation of agility-related routines in competing agility dogs. Knowledge regarding training, competition, and management routines of agility dogs is lacking. Through a retrospective online questionnaire, Finnish owners and handlers of 745 competition-level agility dogs provided information on training routines and management of these dogs during one year free of agility-related injuries. Competition routines were collected from the national competition results database. Most dogs trained agility 1-2 times a week, with a median active training time of 18 min a week. Dogs competed in a median of 2.1 runs per month at a speed of 4.3 m/s. Common field surfaces were different types of artificial turfs and dirt surface. Warm-up and cool-down were established routines, and 62% of dogs received regular musculoskeletal care. Moreover, 77% of dogs underwent conditioning exercises, but their frequency was often low. Additionally, dogs were walked for a median of 1.5 h daily. Pearson's chi-squared and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to evaluate the association between a dog's competition level and training and competition variables. A dog's competition level was associated with competition (p < 0.001) and training frequency (p < 0.001); dogs at higher levels compete more but train less than dogs at lower levels. This study provides information on training, competition, and management routines of competing agility dogs.

Keywords

dog agility; canine sports medicine; agility training; dog training; training routines; training practices; competition routines; management of sporting dogs; dog sports

Published in

Animals
2022, volume: 12, number: 2, article number: 212
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Inkila, Leena
University of Helsinki
Hyytiainen, Heli K.
University of Helsinki
Hielm-Bjorkman, Anna
University of Helsinki
Junnila, Jouni
EstiMates Ltd
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Bostrom, Anna
University of Helsinki

UKÄ Subject classification

Medical Bioscience
Clinical Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12020212

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/116425