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.

 

 

 

Hiking with dogs

Summer approaches (well maybe not here in the UK). This is the time of the year that we all go more often hiking with our dogs. Here are some rules and information you should remember before planning your hiking.

Right trails

Make sure you look at nice trails that are suitable for your doggies such as soft and not with many cliffs around, so dogs can be off lead all the time. Depending on how fit you and your dogs are, check how steep and how many drops there are on the route. If it is nice sunny day check if there are any water stops for dogs to cool down.

You and your dog

Make sure if you choose the trails that are suitable for both of you! Check if your dog is fit to actually go for a long adventure. Your vet will be able to advise you. Also, don’t feed a massive meal before hiking too.

Check rules and regulations

Check your local rules and regulations, as for example in Scotland dogs must be always on a lead during lambing.

  • During the breeding season (usually April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, forests, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.

After hiking check your dog

  • Eyes – check for grass seeds.
  • Ears – check for mites and other foreign objects.
  • Paws – check for cuts on the pads, also grass seeds and ticks.
  • Tail – foreign objects caught in fur.
  • “Armpits” – check here for burrs and twigs getting caught as your dog will love to charge through the undergrowth. If these are left to bed in they will be incredibly uncomfortable and more difficult to spot later and could result in a costly trip to the vets to have them removed.
  • Mouth – check for abrasions around the mouth, and cuts on gums etc. Try not the play “fetch” with pieces of fallen branches as they can cause untold damage to the throat and/or mouth.
  • Body-  check overall for ticks.

Items to take along with you

So it is important you pack everything for your hiking adventure, I put a list together what I always have with me:

  • treats- high quality treats to reward and encourage good behavior.
  • favorite toy- we always find time to play and have some fun.
  • doggies first aid kit- cuts and strains could happen so be prepared.
  • spare collars and leads
  • poo bags- always clean waste
  • whistle- to call them back
  • animal-friendly wipes
  • water bottle and collapsible drinking bowl

 

Enjoy your adventures with dogs and stay safe.

 

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.

Refrences: Lisa Cleeton.

 

Dog-friendly movie in Edinburgh

A few weeks ago I have seen that Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh invited folks for a dog-friendly and human-only movie. I didn’t think twice and just booked in for the early movie, and already planned that I will take Laferra.

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Pre-movie

I have parked near Meadows, so I have walked Laferra prior the movie. Unfortunately, I forgot to check how long is the movie so I didn’t know how long we were going to sit there. Luckly, very early morning we were at the beach, so I thought a quick walk around for pee and have a look at Meadows, as I have never really been there before with dogs.

 

Then we went to the cinema, I had really no clue what to expect. I could see from afar that there are people with dogs already outside. We walked in and see more people with dogs. However it wasn’t really overwhelming so I thought this is great. A few journalist waiting just at the front door and small tiny stall from Dog Aid Society, who straight away guessed Laferra breeds and gave her biscuit.

I never thought her the manners, but she sat straight away knowing she will get a biscuit. Super proud moment. We showed the ticket on the phone and at the same time received an IKEA blanket for Laferra’s seat. I must say, I didn’t expect that and brought her blanket, but this is just great. We walk pass and see a lot of bowls with waters and finding a seat for us. I put a blanket for her but she just jumped on my knees and sat watching surrounding. We were approached by STV as the journalist said: “would you like to answer few questions, as your dog seems the calmest in here”. Wow, thank you, that is massive compliment. Cinema was feeling, but every owner had spare seat for their dogs. My only issue was that people had popcorn and crips around us, so Laferra was chancing to beg, but quickly gave up and just cuddled into me.

 

Movie

Screening started with some house-keeping and rules: how to put blanket on a seat and that dogs must be kept on a lead all the time. Here we come “Isle of Dogs” and all the dogs in the cinema started to bark as on screen there is a massive talking dog.

Everyone just laughed. I was like this is great, Laferra was just watching around. I thought she might be stressed but nothing at all, she was one happy dog.

During movie, she was sitting on my laps or sitting on the floor watching me and her treats. Overall she did brilliant, nice and calm. Only interested in treats even from people near us. The movie wasnt long maybe around 1h 40min, which was just perfect for Princess.

About the movie

Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Liev Schreiber, Koyu Rankin, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Kunichi Nomura, Ken Watanabe, Yoko Ono, Greta Gerwig, Akira Ito
Duration: 101 min

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Four long years after The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs brings another welcome dose of Wes Anderson’s whimsical charm and offbeat direction to capture audiences’ hearts. Set in a dystopian future Japan, the paw-some stop-motion animation follows 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) on his noble quest to find his adored pet dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber). After a mysterious outbreak of ‘canine flu’, all the hounds of Megasaki City are exiled by the authorities to a colossal rubbish dump known as Trash Island. Atari sets out solo to rescue his beloved pooch, meeting a few new mongrel friends along the way. Together, they end up on a journey that will decide the fate of the entire prefecture.

Note: when you are with your dog in cinema you don’t really focus on a movie! Haha

After movie

I wanted to leave quick so we would avoid the crowd, but I didn’t manage. It was a bit overwhelming for Laferra but she kept looking to me for assurance. Once again she didn’t show any signs of stress just walked near my heel.

 

Perfect spot after cinema, Laferra ran around Meadows, before we head to naughty Roger, who did recycling of the bin for me. I always thought it is Laferra, but I know it is Roger to blame from now on. I think he really missed her, as since we are back they just cuddle and Lafie just kisses him.

Overall

Overall movie was great and the whole idea of dog-friendly was brilliant. Laferra is just perfect for that kind of inventions. I had a lot of fun and seeing so many crazy dog people were great. Laferra proved that we have an amazing bonding together and that she is a really perfect dog. Love her to bits.

 

 

 

 

Running training and motivation!

Last couple weeks I was on and off with my running. I feel a bit unfit at the moment. However, starting my training programme with Ben Robinson as my coach and mentor hopefully put me back on track again. I am really looking forward to it as I never know what to do with running, as this is totally new to me. Volleyball was way different.

Lost and found motivation

Due to my traveling recently I feel I lost my motivation for running with dogs. I was away I ran a lot myself, it gave me a chance to explore Zagreb as much as I want. With dogs I can’t run anywhere. Also Laferra is in a season so no running for her off lead.

Anyway, I think I find my motivation back, and even tho last week was really lazy! I found the strength to wake up early and go for a run with Rogerowski. I was planning the beach, but then I thought it would be unfair if Laferra would discover we went to the beach without her. We stayed locally in Leith Links.

Leith Links

The principal open space within Leith, the docks district of Edinburgh, Scotland. This public park extends to 18.5 hectares (46 acres). In its current form, it is divided into two main areas, a western section and an eastern section, by Links Gardens both being largely flat expanses of grass bordered by mature trees. I love it with Roger, we can run around and he sticks to me as he just runs happily with his ball. Best running partner ever. On the other hand Laferra is covering too much space so this place is too small for her and too dangerous with cars and roads.

 

Portobello

The training programme is busy so another morning spent with my dogs running around.

Oh wow it was just beautiful. Not sure what happened, but everything was purple. It was just us, no one else. As of who would have go out at 5.30am right? Tired legs, but recovery run was just spot on, so worth the early start to the day!

That kind of mornings highlights why I even bother to wake up and go out for run. I just want to do it again and again. My motivation definitely came back.

Just keep going, never stop, motivation will keep around.

 

Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Croatian story.

I feel very lucky with my job, as it allows me to travel around the world. It has been a long time since my last post as I was away to Croatia for two weeks.

Croatia

Croatia is an Eastern European country with a long coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Encompassing more than a thousand islands, it’s also crossed by the Dinaric Alps. Its inland capital, Zagreb, is distinguished by its medieval Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and diverse museums. The major coastal city Dubrovnik has massive 16th-century walls encircling an Old Town with Gothic and Renaissance buildings. I was lucky and I stayed in downtown of Zagreb, so close to see almost anything within walking distance (or running).

I was very surprised that the temps were so below 0 degrees, as I always had that idea that Croatia is always warm. Nevermind I was wrong. Even tho a business trip I have a lot of time over the weekend to check and feel a bit like a tourist. I tried to explore Zagreb as a dog-friendly city.

Dog-friendly

To my surprise, Zagreb has a lot of shops for dogs (pets). Just around the corner from where I stayed there was a shop called Hov-Hov Zagreb in English: Woof-Woof Zagreb. It is a pets bakery doing homemade treats and cakes. Just lovely place to bring your dog in. On the other hand, I was very shocked when I was doing shopping in H&M when the dog passed me with his owner. I didn’t expect dog inside, but it seems in a shopping center that is just normal casual thing to have your dog. Great idea.

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In the morning I liked to go for a short run so parks were my choice. I didn’t see many dogs but when I saw it looks like a lot of rescues and different crossbreeds out there. Around every corner, there were tiny grassy place to actually walk your dogs with a lot of bins! I haven’t seen many “pick up poo after your dog” signs, but also I didn’t manage to step into any poo, so it must mean they clean after their dogs.

A lot of restaurants were allowing dogs too. Almost every single one that I have been to had a sign that it is dog-friendly. I haven’t seen any dogs with their owners but a lot of places were really empty. Croatia faced first time in 15 years such an awful winter with a lot of snow and very cold temperature. Also, a note that signs on the doors for dog-friendly were similar to ours here in the UK. The staff is very nice in Croatian restaurants and there is always meal of the day too. The menu is always full of traditional meals and it really reminded me about being home or holidays with my family when I was a child.

 

Adventure

I always thought Zagreb is bigger than it actually feels. I was able to run outside it and I am not a long distances runner. There were defo two places I would recommend to visit: Medvedgrad Castle and Jarun lake (although that Lake was a bit disappointed in snow).

The castle is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. I didn’t expect such a heavy winter with so many snow around. Ohh, how much I missed it. I met so many walkers with dogs around there.

I only explored a route to the castle, but it looks like in the summer there would be a lot of trails to canicross with dogs. Such a peaceful place.

Another longer run, I did via city to the Jarun Lake, which looked amazing on photos in the Internet (see below). Jarun is a neighborhood in the southwestern part of Zagreb, Croatia. It was named after Lake Jarun, formed by the Sava River, now located on the southern edge of the neighborhood.

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I was super excited about running there. Unfortunately, in a snow it looks totally like a wee pond (see photo below). Maybe I should have ran to the other side of it?!

Anyways near the lake, there are few restaurants and very nice trails to run. Once again I met few dog walkers around as there was a tiny forest nearby too.

Holidays

Zagreb is the place to go for sure. I would say 2-3days would be enough and then just move to the coast with a lot of beaches and charming villages. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. Surprisingly a lot of people speak good English although I have learned that I speak fluent Croatian. If you plan to go with dog, great enjoy this dog-friendly place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Passion first and everything will fall into place

That is the 1st season of Scottish Championship finished with Laferra. We didn’t get on the podium, but she is a champ for me. Overall results from the season aren’t out yet, but I think we have managed to get to 6th or 7th. Our category is very tough and the biggest (16-39). However results don’t matter, I realised different things this season.

New season new dog

When I started canicross 2 years ago, it was brilliant as Roger was natural in pulling and focus. It was easy and much easier to focus on my own improvement. With princess Laferra the whole canicross changed the game for me. As a very shy and submissive dog, I had a lot to work with her. She never pulled when walking on a lead and prefered to stay as close to me as possible. I was back to basics which I didn’t have a clue what to do. There was no recipe for the successful “sled dog”. I couldn’t find videos or books about how to train a puppy for canicross. I could only try and fail or win.

Back to basics

I asked around, I watched around and choose what could be good for me. She was very shy and I thought I am jumping into the deep water with her by taking her to the IFSS World Championship. We trained hard preparing her for different things. We did well, however, last weekend proved we still need to work on small things and every race or training are lessons for us. Laferra is very sensitive and mummy’s girl so any small thing can affect her. I love that about her and it is the massive challenge for me to make sure she loves canicross and has fun as much as I do (well sort of 😉 ).

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What did I learn this season?

I have learnt a lot as I wanted to make sure she is ready.

  • sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
  • train as much as you can in a different environment.
  • train as much as you can with different dogs around.
  • love them.
  • praise them.
  • have fun.
  • one step forward might mean two step backwards.
  • never give up.
  • learn from mistakes.
  • build strong bonding with your dog.
  • have a lot of passion and love for the sport and your dog at the same time.
  • have some break and some fun from trainings too.

Last race of Scottish Championship

Yesterday race at Muiravonside Country Park was tough: hilly, twisty, technical and very muddy. I knew what to expect as I did it last year with Roger in 26:49 min. It was very tough. I promised that if it will be to tough for Lafie, I won’t finish and wouldn’t take part in Championship as I want her to have fun. Oh wow! She was doing so well, listen to my command “steady” even tho I have never taught her that one. We worked on every step together and surprisingly Laferra had a blast even tho she doesn’t like mud. With her lightweight, she was quick through it and just looked at me with a wagging tail. On flat part, she was really keen to go. At one point I thought I got lost as we didn’t see anyone in front of us or behind us! Oh, well this was great and perfect for us just to be together and having fun sliding around. She really made me proud. Just 19months old and I still think sometimes she doesn’t have a clue what she should do, but she is an amazing dog and Roger’s best friend.

Looking forward to more adventures and races with her. She is a wee superstar and she did teach me a lot of new things.

Season hasn’t finished but I am looking forward to future races in Scotland and further away.