On the way to Poland

All the way from Greece- princess Laferra- the dog who changed my life even more than Roger. She became best friend with Roger from day 1 and eventually she opened her heart to me too. Last season was amazing, we both learnt a lot! Once again thanks Colin Reid and Louise Mitchell for helping, supporting and training with us at the time that I lost my believes. Since then Laferra grew up so much in confidence and now she just loves harness work. She met so many new dogs friends around the world. We have been training and having fun all the time. She is my amazing angel to keep me going and dreaming. I knew I need to step up and do more for her. Thanks Ben Robinson (Robinson Canicross) for last few months of sweat, tears, swear words and hard work, for showing me a level up canicross and for making me do the training, that I have never even think of! We put a lot of work into everything and I know we will have a lot of fun, because that what all matters?! I can’t wait to see my family, friends and meet new friends (Team 🇵🇱 ️be prepared for us)! Today we are leaving to compete at the ICF World Championship in Canicross, Bikejor and Dog Scooter in Lubieszów Poland🇵🇱️ (2nd international event that we will compete at). First a bit of relax at my hometown and introduce my Two crazy mutts to my family (Roger is going with us, his first time abroad!)! Thank you to Westport Vets – South Queensferry and Lisa Cleeton,Veterinary Physiotherapy, Spinal Manipulation & Shiatsu for looking after Laferra. She is ready, I am ready. 💪🇵🇱

Sport camp- canicross taken to another level

Coming from sport background, I was always used to pre-season sport camp, where our coaches made us do things to really make us stronger athletes. I remember very well early morning warm up short training very early morning, which I always hated. Usually it last week or two but you defo were coming back pretty tired. However body recovered quickly and we always were ready for September and our first volleyball games of the season. The older I get the more I miss team bonding and all the fun that was in connection with our sport camp (late night press up punishment for not sleeping! was one of them). Such a good memories. Anyway since I started training under “big eye” of Ben Robinson (current World, European and British Canicross Champion), I feel my canicross and whole running moved to new level. Due to some personal circumstances, I wasn’t able to go to France to compete at TDM, I thought I need to spend my holidays somehow different. With my crazy ideas Ben and I teamed up for a week of training camp.

Training plan

I like the idea that I don’t need to worry about what and where I need to do. Ben made sure me and dogs explored different trails, uphills, downhills and ran a lot of miles that week. Always remember when training with the Champ recovery run turns into massive elevation gain over pretty solid long distance.

Dogs training

It was all about training including dogs. It was great to make sure they run everyday. I also had an opportunity for really first time to canicross with beasts, in other word Champion’s dogs. Well Ben has nice variety of different dogs, but they are all superb with their heads for the running. I was really impressed with even his youngest dog that was super focused even when paired for the first time with my Laferra. If you ask me, yes I ran with Blakey boy- the Champion Dog and yes it was scary, but I felt my feet weren’t touching the ground!

For the first time I felt super strong dogs, but also my body wasn’t broke and I really enjoyed running at 3:21/km pace. Even the trees weren’t that annoying to hit my face 😀

The whole week I could try different dogs and try different thing with my girl. She ran as a single dog, she ran as a first time as a 2 dog team and finally she did a lot of free running while I was working hard. On the other hand Mr Rogerowski train a lot and work hard canicrossing with Ben (what a lucky dug right?). I am so happy he is back to harness as he loves it so much and really never gave up even when I ran big boy Nero and Ben’s Dad had Roger with Nova as 2 dog team 🙂

During the week I have learnt a lot about canicross resistance training for dogs, which is still new and I have never used it really.

Experience from pros

As I was staying with my close friends it was great to learn about their routine with dogs too. At the end of the day it isn’t just running, dogs like to be dogs. All that swimming, fetching and hiking is good for training too. Unfortunately my two still didn’t get the hint how to swim, but I can see Laferra is braver with going deeper to the water (oh and summer is gone LOL).

Athletic track

I know I used to say I will never go and run at the track, but Ben offered me to just experience it. No pressure at all right! First time ever I have been to that kind of place. So many people and I felt absolutely awful (so intimidating), but having my coach on the side explaining the rules and etiquette, I got a bit braver to run my first 400m on a track. I felt like a monkey in a zoo if I am honest. Also struggled when I could do my next time, as groups were running and running. On the other hand it was great to see some of those folks running. Oh they run soooo light! Maybe that gave me courage? I did it again and something broke inside me. Ah, I believed. I believed my dreams are possible to be reached. Maybe not tomorrow or within a month but they are closer to be reached than they were. Loved my experience on track and already looking for a local track availability.

Sport camp

Once again I felt like pro athlete who worked hard for the coming season. Every day training and excitement which dog I can run kept me going. My hard work was paid off in massive blisters and stiff calves, but at the end of the day the purpose of this camp was to experience and learn more. I learnt that a lot of hard work still needs to be done, but I am super excited for 2019.

 

My favourite running partner of my first canicross camp was Nero. We worked a lot together and we both felt same after 8 days of hard training. I am already looking forward to my next camp with these bunch of humans and dogs.

Bark + Ride event

What can be better than a nice 15 degrees and a sunny day? This weekend I have decided to make the dogs just to be dogs. Last year I did a bit MTB with Laferra off lead and she loved it, so since the weather is spot on we were back.

Bark and ride Buddies at Carron Valley

My dear friend organizes events for humans and their dogs. She promotes MTB with trail dogs. Here’s description:

Come and join us for a fun morning at Carron Valley mountain bike trails! Whether your used to taking your dog with you out on the bike or whether you’ve never taken them before this is the ride for you! Reasonable level of fitness required. This is a fun event not a competition and our aim is to grow a community of #barkandridebuddies to share the fun of mountain biking and the love of dogs together! We will be doing a mini loop of the flatter trails around the forest to get the dogs used to running alongside the bikes. After that we will be doing to 9km loop of the red trails around Carron Valley with the option of doing the adrenaline rushing Orange run at the end with lots of fun berms, table tops and little jumps. Everything is rideable and you are in control of your own ride. Adventures are for sharing so take some pics and share your photos with us here on the page to be in with a chance of winning some goodies!!
Bring your helmet, a lead some water for you and your dog and what you would normally take with you when out with your dog. A towel is advisable if it’s wet.
See you there!

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Ride itself

I did MTB with Laferra before but never in the group, as I am always worried she can get loose from me and start to panic. I prepared myself and had my whistle with me and make sure I was keeping an eye on her. I put a bell on her so I could hear her too. Totally didn’t know what to expect from the ride.

We have arrived at the Carron Valley, I like this place, as it is usually very quiet and trails are just great for my abilities. I saw some dogs at the car park already, so I let Laferra just go and say hi if she wanted. At first she wasn’t really sure.

However, eventually she went out there said hi and came back with a happy face. I knew it will be a good day and she will love it.

Mini loop

We are off for a short loop of 4-5km. Laferra loves it and keeps checking in to make sure we both know where we are. I am super chuffed and even managed to have relaxed chats with other riders. It is great to hear why people want to do this. Laferra was really good in a group, very aware of the bikes which make riders life easy and not worry that they will ride over her 😀

We are back from the mini loop as this one was just warm up for us, but for younger dogs, it was a great introduction to trails and bikes.

Longer loop

We are off again, time for a bit harder uphills and faster downhill. Laferra is just brilliant, she waits for me on uphills and sticks in front or behind on downhills. I am super chuffed with her, she is having a blast. She went off to woods for a wee adventures during stops, but she kept most of the time with the rest of the dogs. What a fantastic way to spend time with your dog.

Few pointers

If you are planning to attend these great events, please bare that in mind:

  • your dog is good with recall
  • your dog is aware of the bike (it is group ride so your dog cant just run into others riders wheels)
  • your dog is fit enough
  • you cant show off your fast mtb skills 🙂
  • be aware of other dogs too
  • be aware of other riders on the trails not with the group

I loved it, Laferra had blast with other dogs and she really proved she is great trails dog. We had awesome fun and I would defo recommend this kind of meet up group for you and your dog.

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Why am I so motivated to start my day so early in the morning?

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As you may know, I am not a big fan of running and in past, I really used to hate it. However recently things changed and I am more into it, even train every day. A few folks asked me how do I do it that I am so motivated to wake up early and just go out there in the dark and do my training. So here are my thoughts on that:

Why early morning

I am an individual that likes to be on her own, a lot of people make me tired 🙂 Recently also a lot of people started asking me how I trained my dogs that they are so well behaved. During training I don’t have time for chatting, I like to go out there and smash my training in 30min! Early morning it is usually me and the dogs, which means I can totally focus on training and don’t need to shout after Laferra to not approach other dogs and of course no people keen for chat. Easy life for everyone: I can run, dogs can run!

Stunning morning

Usually, in the morning I can see the sunrise, which in Scotland is just stunning.

Food fuel

In the morning I can also feel I can go quickly do the training without worrying about food, I can just fuel my body straight after the run and during the day at work. I am always worried to get a stitch if I run after work due to that when I finish work I am hungry for light dinner already. The only minus of this is that if you work hard (most of the time for me) you will get a headache after a good training session and you feel like you can eat the whole fridge 😀

Consistent morning and increases discipline

I am always up early in the morning even at the weekends, so keeping the consistency in waking up makes it easy for the whole week. Also, it means training is done and nothing interrupted it as it the is always the same time. If I decided to do it in the afternoon, my workout time frequently ends up at the bottom of my to-do list and by day’s end, I might not even do it. So I rather hit the trails first thing in the morning and I am able to enjoy it and be fully focused on training. This also means I have a free evening and can spend it on catching up on tv shows or reading books.

Metabolism

I have noticed that morning start helps keep metabolism elevated for hours. Why not get your engines running as soon as possible- the earliest the better hehe?! In this way, my increased metabolism will be working — and burning more calories — while I am, instead of when my body is at rest. If you are like many people who sit at a desk all day, you know that this is reason enough to train in the morning.

Clears your mind

We all know that training really helps clear our head and put us in a healthy mindset. According to literature training before your day officially begins allows you to start each day with a fresh perspective as you destroy the stresses of the previous day with a run on the trails. It would help you to decrease the chance to become stressed or upset during the day. Of course, it also depends on individuals but it defo works for me.

Energy for the day

Early morning… yes it is hard to move from nice and cozy bed when it rains outside. The weather and accumulated fatigue can make you feel a bit lazy, however, if I go out and do the training first thing in the morning I am buzzing for the day. Doing so will release endorphins and other hormones to give you a much-appreciated boost that often lasts all day. In other words, it’ll give you the required energy to work all day and party all night if you desire.

 Sleep better and increase mental awareness

I have noticed that I feel more alert and ready to take on whatever challenge or curveball life throws my way after a good workout. I am ready for the day. As my body learns the pattern I started to sleep very well too. My sleeping patterns are consistent and I feel like I am resting/recovering much better and quicker.

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So stay focused and disciplined yourself! Get your “ass” out of bed early morning and enjoy the rest of the day. Happy training.

 

 

 

Canine warm-up workshop- why bother with warming up our dogs.

No automatic alt text available.Another busy day for Laferra and I. This time we attended a canine warm-up workshop with Lisa Cleeton, who is known well in Edinburgh area as a Veterinary Physiotherapist. I was really looking forward to it, to learn a bit more for warm-up but also once again put Laferra in a new situation with other dogs and people around and make her only focus on me so I could focus on her muscles.

 

Muscles

When you think about warm-up for the dog, think about warm-up for yourself. It is an exactly same thing: your body needs to warm up too if you are planning to walk. In general it is good to start warm-up your dog with at least 10min walk on a lead. Depends what sport you are doing there are different things to do, but for us for canicross time to focus on every single muscle. Lisa talked us through every single muscle for running, and I didn’t even know that Laferra has so many muscles. Eventually, when we will become the pro it will take us around 5 minutes, to warm-up all the muscles. We started from the muscles on her head and neck, you would never think that dog uses his head a lot for running right? I was surprised as I rub my dogs muscles before runs, but never thought that the neck and head or even a spine muscles ones are important too. Interesteing point was about ribs muscles! Now I will be checking those muscles, as if they feel a bit harder, that means dog needs rest as it worked hard (for example: day after race or any competition).

Why do the warm- up?

Pretty much it helps to warm-up not just muscles but also ligaments, tendons and muscles.

  • Ligaments: if they lengthen- they are damaged!
  • Tendons are more prone to rupture if a muscle has a spasm in it.
  • Muscles in spasm are “trapped” in contraction.

Lisa talked us why we really should do warm-up, mainly to avoid:

  • muscle tears
  • tendon strains or ruptures
  • ligament sprains
  • lengthen stride length
  • improve performance

Sometime ago I started doing a walk before races around for dogs to be able to do the toilet and then just rub their muscles on front and back legs. Every time I did it, Laferra’s performed much better.

What’s the best warm-up

Better do something than nothing at all. Usually, at least 5-10 minutes walk on a lead, even if you are just planning to let your dog off lead in woods. As the dogs get mostly injured while on that silly walks, running around. In our case, after walk, it is good to rub their muscles. Lisa talked us through all the important muscles on the dogs, simple rub would take even just 5 min. Sometimes we just stand to wait for our start time around that time, it looks like perfect time, to start rub those muscles just before the start. Not just the legs ones, but also the one on the neck, spine or even ribs muscles. Lisa also showed us how to stretch the dogs, but I could probably do that during the training, just too much distraction and hyper dogs around during races. I would keep stretching after runs, as the muscles must be warm-up first for it.

What does warming up means?

  • It brings more blood into the muscles.
  • This preps them ready for action.
  • Ensures joints are ready to move throughout their full range.

Summary

Even a silly walk and running around could injury your dogs. I will definitely find at least 20 minutes before each training and race for making sure my dogs are ready to perform. It is the same idea as us humans getting warm-up for any activities, you need to make sure the blood is there!

If you wanna learn your dogs’ muscles, I would defo recommend go and see sports physio. Lisa showed a lot of muscles that I didn’t even think they are there! (that sausage muscles on front legs! :)) and it looks like Laferra has more muscles than I thought she had.

Overall another great experience for Lafie, to be around the dogs, and other people. She allowed Lisa to touch her and was a really good example of a dog. Once again I know she is great for going with me to any workshops to help me develop better knowledge. We will be back to Lisa in June for some checks before our big races at TDM in French Alps in August. For now, we are practising rubbing all the muscles! Both dogs love it.

where can i buy Dilantin Refrences: Lisa Cleeton.

 

Busy is a choice, stress is a choice, joy is a choice, choose well.

Weekends are meant to be full of fun and running, right? We were back to http://kottonrehab.com/faq Callendar Country Park and Vogrie Country Park.

Saturday

I always look forward to the weekend, actually I live with the thought that soon there will be the weekend. I have always my weekends free so it means a lot of adventures. Saturday weather wasn’t nice, and my dogs aren’t a big fan of rain. Not the greatest choice of the country to live in.

buy femara Falkirk Parkrun is great and quite challenging with hills. People say only one heartbreak hill, but the whole route is up and down. Dog-friendly and when asking if we can start to the front they always allow us as they know it is for the best. I like that a lot, which means we can just fire away from everyone and then pace ourselves nicely with only a few overtaking us.

Laferra loves the starts, she is buzzing to go and really run clean. After not training much I thought this will be a massive challenge, but she ran really well, and not many could overtake us on the first mile. We have finished 12th overall, which means we are progressing and our time is more consistent now. It seems last few weeks we keep 5km easily under 21 min. Time to push a bit more now.

It is great to see photos after the event, as you can really see how much she enjoys it (me not so much!).

Cake and coffee time

Afterwards, we went for a nice walk with friends to  Canada Woods, which I know quite well from MTB riding there. Canada Wood is a five-minute drive from the town centre situated in the rural countryside of Falkirk and boasts beautiful panoramic views towards the Ochil hills. Nice surroundings with woody paths, dogs just love it. You can do a short loop or longer loop. Therefore there are many paths to explore and you pass a lot of farmland, so if your dogs are like Roger The Chaser, I would keep them on leads. Luckily the sun came out so it was great to enjoy it. After a good walk, all the “humans” deserved the coffee right?! Canada Woods Kitchen serves anything you would want from nice breakfast up to great cakes and coffee. The great thing about this place is that it is dog-friendly so you can have furry baby with you inside. As it was sunny, we have decided to sit outside. Nice staff brought us our orders outside, which I like too as some places expect you to wait inside for taking your own order outside. I have checked the website and it doesn’t say it is dog-friendly, but it defo is. I think I had the best fruit scone ever.

Sunday fun

We were back to Vogrie Country Park. There are 11.5 miles of signed countryside paths through woodlands and the Tyne Valley.

After rainy and sunny Saturday, I didn’t expect a snow at all. We arrived there and there was at least an inch of snow. I had a great walk with Roger.

I think his feet were freezing as he was running around me on a lead. He is a funny boy!

Celebration

Two years ago I went to Vogrie Country Park and had a blast at my first canicross with Cani-Sports Edinburgh with Roger. I have decided to be back in February and celebrate my 2 years in the sport by running. Being a part of the Akobe TAM Marathon community, Laferra and I ran her first 6 miles, her longest run at only 19months old. Oh, Laferra pulled all the way around. We had a blast stopping talking to walkers, stopping for cuddles and talking to other runners. I had a blast on this sunny frozen Sunday! Great 1-2-1 with my girl to have just fun canicrossing, no pressure of racing (we did want she wanted and whenever she wanted)! We have collected our Titch medal  

Weekend

During one weekend we had any kind of weather, what a great fun! Love that kind of weekends, when we can do whatever we want. It is great to live in Edinburgh as within only 20-30min drive you get to very pretty places. After all that I had two very happy and tired dogs. In four days we are heading to Thetford Forest for 2nd round British National Championship. I am super excited.

 

 

 

Love for sled dog sport? Planning new dog?

I presume most of you watch the Dog Power Movie? If not, please watch it. It is only 25 minutes and it is defo worth if you are looking for a dog for the sport.

My story

I have been reading a lot around and hearing a lot of questions from people regarding hounds or greyster which are great breeds and dogs for the sport. I have followed a lot of groups and forums to get to know the breed but let me tell you my story first.

As you may know I started my adventure with canicross in February 2016 with Roger. Great pullying dog. I thought this will be an additional fun hobby we can do together. How wrong I was?! I was so hooked after my first run that I went home and signed for my first race in April 2016. Despite I hated running. Roger loved it and he was very tired that afternoon. Our first race was with CSS in Plean Country Park. It was very challenging and hilly route, but I loved it even more. That time I discovered that it isn’t just canicross that’s there but there are more to this whole crazy thing. Yes, I was hooked and excited. Literally, I was buzzing after talking to so many folks and meet very good athletes. I started doing my research into the sport.

First proper season

I have decided to compete around UK with Roger and see how things look like and where we stand. I discover that a lot of folks have pointers in the sport, but also dogs specially breed for the sport called eurohound or greyster. I always dreamed about having two dogs so I started to think maybe I could get a pointer and be a bit more speedy than just 22 minutes per 5k with Roger.

I started looking for another dog, that I thought could make me faster. I have trained every day so hard to improve my running. In September 2016 I have enquired about pointer puppy in Greece. To make whole story short Laferra arrived to Scotland in October 2016. This was my first experience with a pointer breed. I read a lot about that they are energetic and full beans, but later on I learnt what that really means. As I am qualified behaviorist I was very confident that I will manage no problem. Laferra was only 4.5 months old and not really house-trained. Personally, it was my first puppy that I needed to teach what is the world.

Basic training started from day one, as I really wanted her to be spot on with everything to make my life easier, as Roger being an older rescue is very high demanding (separation anxiety, behavioral problems and reactive). I always knew staffies don’t understand your personal space, but later I have learnt that pointers are even worst. So house-training became and it was smooth, she was one clever girl. On the other hand, she was a nightmare to be left alone or in Roger’s companion. Laferra was loving to chew two things: socks and plastic things. Constantly something was chewed and I started to worry that something might happen to her. I don’t believe in crates and unfortunately, that wasn’t an option (Roger hates crate so he has access to the whole house, so I couldn’t just close Lafie).

Back to basics

I have started saying to myself she is only a puppy so I presume she will grew up from this stupid chewing. Later on I discover others pointers’ owners had the same issues, but dogs grew up from it. Ok she is only a baby. Laferra learnt quickly to do her “business” outside (very quick actually) and her recall was brilliant! I trusted her everywhere and she wasn’t even bothered when she met a horse on our walk one day. I thought fantastic I have a brilliant pet that I can trust being let off lead!

She was growing super fast and Roger loved her more and more. I could see that he liked to have her around. However, every day coming back home there was evidence that she found something and chewed. I gave up on “5min per month” rule and started really making her tired on walks but also playing games like I do with Roger. You can read a bit more here. It started to work, she finally stopped most of the time, but she was growing and being tall she could reach to the places she shouldn’t be even interested in. The kitchen counter got hoovered so many time and I knew Roger was delighted with her being able to reach there as she shared everything with him. I still kept saying to myself she is only a puppy.

However, being a puppy and being a pointer puppy was a bit different. For Laferra one day of me being lazy (meaning not playing a game or proper long-running off lead walk), she literally destroyed things mainly my clothes: lines, necks, zips and so on. She was bored where I was hoping she would sleep.

Old enough for more running

In 2017 I have discovered bikejor so I started training that with Roger, but to get skills I started riding bike on my own. I thought brilliant as Laferra is great off lead I can take her with me and she could get the activities that she needed. She was old enough to start doing it and be my trail dog.

I was learning myself and building up my fitness but Laferra had the best time ever and she could go for a long time. Our rides were minimum of 10 miles every time we went out. I was gutted that Roger couldn’t join us, but tough life if you have a zero recall. Anyways finally princess stopped all the chewing and she was tired sleeping when left alone. You probably want to ask how do I know this? I watched my dogs on camera while at work, just to make sure they are not stressed. The only problem was that I couldn’t ride a bike everyday I needed to do something with Roger too.

Running around

Laferra learnt canicross, being a bikejor dog and pull the scooter around. I always thought Roger was high demanding, but he was tired after 20 minutes training, where Laferra could go again and always tried to play with him at home. I thought she is young so she must have a lot of energy, but at 19 months old now she has even more energy.

My life changed a lot having her, I wake up 4.30-5am to make sure I go out there let them off lead and let them run around before I head to work. Usually, they have a dog walker during the day who takes them for an hour walk which is usually off lead walk and finally in the evening we drive outside Edinburgh to train: canicross, bikejor or scooter, or just me running with Laferra being off lead. Only Friday is my day that I don’t do anything with the dogs in the evenings (well we clean the house, which is great fun with two barking dogs). If one day I am being lazy and ruin the routine I come back to chewed things! And Laferra isn’t a puppy anymore.

Note: Laferra doesn’t understand personal space at all as per below photo ( you wake up to this).

Sled dog sport

I started my story to show you that a pointer changed so much my life as she has so much more energy than Roger or any other dog really. She also made me super busy with making sure she gets rid of this crazy energy.

Now being in the sport for 2 years, I started looking and learning about those “special breeds” for the sport. There are a lot of folks out there with those dogs, a lot of forums and groups on facebook that talks about them. However, I felt it was just talks and people opinions, I wanted to know the truth. As you know I had a brilliant opportunity and qualified to go to the IFSS World Championship in Poland (you can read here about it). I met with so many breeders but also athletes who own those dogs. This trip allowed me to watch the dogs at home (I stayed with few in the same accommodation) but also I could watch them during the big event racing or just sitting at the stake out.

IFSS World Championship gave me the chance to meet so many those pretty puppies but also see those adult dogs in action. They all were fantastic, strong and very keen to run, no matter if it was canicross or four dog team. Fantastic to watch but I thought there must be something more to it. I started talking around and surprisingly people were happy to share their experience. I discovered that those breeds can vary in mix of the breeds they have already and this mix was changing the way dogs behaved. All those breeds are full of energy, and I knew this kind of dog means more than Laferra herself.

On forums and groups you can read how much they destroy and how difficult they are to be left alone in crate. I know different dogs are different, but people told me it is a tough life to own one of those dogs, they really need attention. In case of the greyster they also need some attention as they love being around people. After few discussion I can easily say that those dogs cant be just pet, you need to train them every day. Canicross isn’t enough for them, and also they are that strong that running in a harness isn’t an option for every day training, so you need to do a lot bikejor and scooter- be brave enough as the speed you can go is crazy. Couple athletes in Poland told me that if I ever decided on that kind of dog I will need to make sure I am prepared for life to change (and there was me thinking, Laferra changed my life enough), otherwise this dog will ruin my house no matter if it is greyster or eurohound. A few of those dogs are only one person dogs, so not really a family dogs either. A lot to take on board before you decided about them.

I am not trying to put you off! I just want that people realize that those dogs are pretty and amazing runners, but there is more to just looking pretty athletes! In my case, how would my dog walker cop with having a greyster on a group walk pullying him?! This is just an example. Do your research, it took me a year to collect all the facts until now and I am still learning every day about them. I use the opportunity to go to different events to spend time with those dogs and their owners. I love to get to know them and see how really different they are.

One more thing before you get bored reading this. Those dogs breed for the sport and there are a lot of wonderful breeders with a long waiting list, but to have a confident and super athlete you need to put a lot of effort and train it correctly! What’s the recipe? Noone knows and you can only try and do as I tried with Laferra (I am still learning that recipe!).

I hope you enjoyed this post and have a better idea! I would defo recommend doing your own homework. Laferra is only pointer, no more crazy breeds in there and one day I was thinking Roger is high demanding right?! There are a lot of things to take into consideration when willing to buy a sled dog and bring it to your house.

For now I just focus on Laferra and Roger, They are both great for the sport and I feel it is great progress for me. Starting canicross at 30min with Roger and going down to 22min and with Laferra down to around 19:30min. I think I am on the right track, slow progress and improvment. I have learnt a lot about other breeds for the sport and still have plenty to learn.

 

 

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.

This post will be all about training how when and why from my own experience and my own opinion what I would have done differently and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning

Let’s say it loud there is no one right recipe for how to teach the dog  how to canicross. There are a lot of  knowledgeable folks there who are happy to share their experience, but there is no right or wrong way. You need to find the way that will work for your dog.

Roger and his start was the easiest job ever! He is a natural puller, harness on, bungee attached and he is off! He is smart cookie so knows the commands very well. Yes, 2 years old dog and he knew very quickly what to do. Roger was just getting better with every training. I knew I could trust him 100% when running.

On the other hand, Laferra was a puppy when she landed on my doorstep. I had no clue what to do and why. I have search internet, talk to folks and really couldn’t find the perfect recipe for training the dog from zero. It was a really good lesson for her. Let’s start from the beginning then.

Puppy training

You look around on youtube, Instagram and facebook and a lot of top athletes from sled dog sport are starting training their puppies at age of 7-8 months. They run them for 0.5-1mile canicross or even bikejor. I felt for Lafie it is too early and I wanted her to be a puppy for as long as possible. Usually, the start time for dogs according to race rules is they need to be 12 months old for canicross and 18months for bikejor and scooter. I have decided to just make her familiar with a harness so she was running off lead with harness on. I also focused my training on 100% recall of lead as I knew I would train her off lead on bike for her fitness and take her up the mountains when I was out with my MTB pals. We did well there, she has 100% recall! I know you think: not a chance. Well, I have tested it with having fox, horse and deer on the way!

Older puppy

I was super excited to finally start working with her, but I haven’t rushed to anything. At 10months old, we started doing power walk with canicross equipment. She was all over the place. Comparing to Roger she was just daft. We continue that even tho it was very frustrating at times as she wasn’t really good at focusing and listening what I tell her. She just wanted to say hi and be best friends with every single dog. I have never tried her with Roger either, and I know some did. It worked for them, pro-dog teaching new dog. In my case, I wanted to make her confident on her own as she is very shy and submissive dog. We just continue the training, she was more interested in birds and stops when she could cuddle with me. It was frustrating every single time. Now I only laugh at it as she is such a baby.

My teenage dog

She turned 12 months and we started doing more during the run, which was much easier than power walking due to that there was less time for her to get distracted. Finally, she started to understand what is this all about. Training was going really great until our first race! Our first race (first race report is here), Laferra thought we will do exactly what we did at training and we will stop for cuddles. Oh! Princess, we need to run to the finish line! Not successful but we finished our first race.

Racing

Although training was going well I discover that she didn’t understand the 5km distance and stop at the finish line (not when she felt like it). I realized all this few months I did it wrong. I didn’t build her for distance. Don’t take me wrong, she was fit to run it or even longer. It was just her head not ready for 22 minutes constant run or even other dogs on the trails. She was 15 months already so I really felt like I wasted time. It was time for changing the game, or at least I thought I did. Another race and unfortunately another fail (you can read here). We didn’t finish the race and I never give up. I was devastated and very upset that I really tried to prepare her.

I had two months to make sure she is ready as I already committed to going to IFSS World Championship (you can read about it here). After few days having a break from all the running, I sat and wrote a plan.

The new plan which changed the game

I knew that my dogs don’t care about winning or loosing, they just want to run with me. I just couldn’t disappoint them myself. Laferra and I started building up the speed and the distance at that speed. We ran 1 mile! Next week we did 2 miles and so on. I started doing more of 1-2miles with her on scooter or bike. She was loving it. Eventually after few years saying I will never go to parkrun, we went to parkrun and ran it. It was amazing to see how she cops with all the people, noise and distraction.

She was just amazing and I could see all these worked for her, which showed at the World Championship that it was all worth the patient. The time we spent together also build fantastic bonding between us. I have learnt one thing, if one training doesn’t work try something different. Dogs are different. She loves running and her harness.

Reward

Yes, I had an easy life with Roger, but the most rewarding with Laferra. I feel very emotional when we go out there and race. She just loves it. It isn’t always perfect, as you always learn something new right?! Sometimes we go back to basic or a small thing makes her distracted. However, at only 19months coming all the way from Greek streets, she really grew up to a fantastic “sled dog”. I am looking forward to our future and more competition. We both have fun and that what’s matter most.

What I would do different?

I think this time I would make sure Laferra is more familiar with wheels from early stages of her life. Even just putting it near her feeding place. She is brilliant MTB and with scooter, but she isn’t 100% sure about bike. Probably also would make her more familiar with hydration after training as she hates drinking water after training or race (no clue why). Finally, I would defo allow her runnning free when I did training with Roger on wheels or just canicross. She would have watched the wee pro doing it perfectly. Maybe this would help me to have less time being frustrated.

I probably wouldn’t attach her to bike or just run with both of them, but would defo want her to see more of Roger in action. Maybe two dog scooter one day! I presume she would love to have Roger with her during training now.

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Note: here are other posts which has some tips on training.

 

 

Training training- what’s important in the sled dog world

I have been in sport 2 years now and I can’t believe how much I learn in those few months and how many new friends I have made. I would like to share with you my own experience what to do and why you should train it with your dogs. Note: this is only my own opinion, experience and knowledge.

The start line

There is more then just to go to start line and get ready for your run. If your dog is like mine, you need to control them well as Laferra could easily give me the penalty. Roger on the other hand like to sniff, pee on everything and say hi to every marshal around start line. This is important. I try to keep my two near me and just let them go on “go”.

Saturday 08.01.18 British BSSF Series 1 – 2.

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Surprisingly as per video, we did brilliantly at the start at BSSF race.

The finish line

Agata finishing on Saturday BSSF Race 1

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

As you can see from video at a lot of events there are those mats and funnel to the vet checks and RM. Laferra was funny about any noise or people at the start line but mainly finish line was a struggle. I went to parkrun as the funnel is getting narrow and there are folks standing around. It is defo something to train to make sure your dog finishes confidently on a tight line which isn’t always the case for us.

On the trails

At the IFSS World Championship, we have a lot of distraction on the trails: talking people, photographers very close to trails or even halfway through a person with a walkie-talkie and beeping machine to check athletes. This is challenging to practice, but we went to Christmas Parkrun and guess what, we passed many marshalls with bells around. Great practice for Laferra.

On the other hand on the trails, you can catch another athlete or be caught by another athlete. Roger has no problem with these at all, however Laferra as a sensitive soul has a lot of struggle with this. She likes to overtake and go away, but she hates when someone catches us and sticks to my heels. She is better than she used to be, as in past she would totally lose her focus, where now she continues to run but she keeps looking at me and the person/dog behind, which means she doesn’t run 100%.

Overtaking

This is one of the challenges while on trails. Most races on the first day aren’t staggered so there is big chance you will get caught by fast one or you will catch slower ones. Laferra is brilliant in overtaking, not even looking once at the dog, but she sometimes struggles when being overtaken. She likes to say hi or look at the other dog, which isn’t ideal and could potentially take as to be DSQ.

Training

Training is there to do mistakes, but sometimes it is just hard to prepare for anything. From where we have been with Laferra in September to where we are now is such a difference and I believe I did great training with her. We are upgrading to more training on wheels now, which means she doesn’t have as much time to think about things around. Hopefully, this will give her even more confidence when out on trails.

Happy training and practising.  

The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle

Sometimes weather interrupts your training schedule, or at least it does mine at the minute with all that snow around. Walking dogs is a pain on those icy paths, so I am not even thinking of running.

Praying for weekend

Although it snows and it gets a bit icy, I am praying that for the weekend it all will melt. I love snow, don’t take me wrong, but it doesn’t really help us. Maybe I should consider buying a sledge?

Dogs are loving the free running, but it is time for some harness work. We haven’t done harness work since Sunday with Laferra. Roger still off harness due to his rubbed belly.

I miss running my wee buddy. Roger, soon you will be back in harness. I bet he will be super excited.

Anyway back to the topic, so due to weather I have plan A and plan B.

Plan A: working with dogs.

Plan B: parkrun on my own and dogs again running free.

Let’s hope for Plan A right?! Hah

BSSF round 2 (race 3 and 4)

Oh, how exciting I am about this. The entry is open and I decided to do two classes for a change. I will get warm-up on bikejor and than canicross later. Super excited!

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If you are looking for something different than just canicross event, this is a must. You can see big teams and mushers going out. I have learnt so much during those events that I really recommend it to everyone. The competition brings the best athletes in the UK to one venue to compete with each other.

Races schedule

Until February, we just train and have some fun with dogs. It looks like it is a bit quieter with races than it was last year. Probably my choice as I am more picky about the events too. However, already planning our trip to France in may. That’s us booked accommodation and hopefully soon looking at ferry prices. How exciting? We are going abroad again.

Exciting news

Hopefully next week I will be able to share fantastic news with you. Keep an eye on our blog and facebook page.