Getting a dog ready for the fight of his life is not someting that should be done in four weeks or so. The best trainers know that conditioning starts, in a way, when the dog is born. If a dog gets the best diet, care, and exercise from birth he can be put in better shape. The pit prospect can benefit from running the treadmill 10 to 15 min. a day -3 to 6 times a week, year round.He should be walked a 1/2 mile to loosen up and empty out before his mill work and walked another 1/2 mile afterwards to cool off. The mill work should be at an easy pace. Try to keep your prospect worm free and about three lbs. over his pit weight. Never let him get over 5 lbs. more than pit weight, a dog that is kept in good shape all the time can be put in fighting shape in 30 days. A dog that has never been off the chain in his life would benefit from a month of pre-keep or light workouts before he starts 30 days of harder work. Before you start conditioning for a match your dog should have a physical by a vet. Make sure his heart and lungs, kidneys, and blood count are in good shape and that he is worm free. To win a long hard fight and live he will need to be healthy. One of the most important parts of conditioning a match dog is picking the correct weight to match him at. His proper pit weight is the lowest weight at which he maintains full strength and vigor. You have to work a dog slowly down to his lowest pit weight to see how he looks and feels at that weight. If he doesn’t seem to pull quite as hard on the leador lacks his usual energy or muscle size, then you have taken him lower than his best weight. He won’t bite or fight with full power. If on the other hand you match him with extra weight he dosen’t need, he will have to fight a naturally bigger dog. A pound or two may not seem worth worrying about if you have a good dog. Believe me, it is worth worrying about. Never give your opponent weight, even l/2 lbs. If two dogs are equally good fighters that pound could make a difference. The pound bigger dog is a little stronger gets the best of the wrestling and finishes a little stronger. If two dogs are equal in ability and matched at 401bs. with one a natural 40 pounder and the other a natural 38 pounder, the bigger dog has the edge. You can bring the natural 38 lb. dog in two lbs. to heavy at 40 lbs.. This won’t help him stay with the natural 40 pounder and the two extra pounds he carrys will slow him down and wear him out sooner. If your not sure of your dog’s pit weight, get an expert to help you call the correct weight on him. However, even an expert can’t call the correct weight on a dog if he doesn’t see him at that weight and working. Let’s say you have a healthy dog, matched at his correct weight. This dog has been exercised all his life and he is only a pound or two over the weight he is matched at. How do you put him in condition to fight up to two or even three hours? A pit dog is bred to have power and fighting ability. There isn’t much that you can do to make him noticably stronger. You can train him to stay strong for a long time by building his heart and lungs and the endurance of his muscles with basic anaerobic activity. Anything that makes your dog’s heart beat faster will increase his endurance. Swimming, roadwork, treadmill and catmill work, springpole and flirtpole work will all build his endurance also. I am going to cover the use of roadwork and the treadmill because, they are the methods which I have used myself. Also, most dog men have a treadmill and can give their dog roadwork with little or no difficulty. The conditioning program I am going to explain calls for twenty-eight days of work with the dog to fight seventy-two hours after his last workout. Since your dog is used to running a treadmill 10-15 minutes daily, you can start him out with 16 minutes and increase his millwork by one minute a day to a maximum of 30 minutes millwork daily. Don’t forget the 1/2 mile roadwork before and after the millwork. There are two types of millwork that I use; one, is steady running at a pace that will give your dog a good workout but won’t strain him. When you take him off the mill after say a half an hour workout he should be able to do another half hour on the mill if asked to do so. Undetr no circumstances should he come off the mill so tired he could hardly run another minute. The second type of millwork that I use is short bursts of hard running for about 2-5 minute sprints broken up by taking the dog off the mill and walking him then alternating him on and off the mill.
The time a dog is walked between sprints should be the same as the time spent on the sprint. For example – 2 minutes on the mill and two minutes off. Only the time on the mill should be counted as workout time. If you have seen many matches between well cponditioned dogs, you may have noticed that they fight at a pretty fast, steady pace for about thirty minutes. After thirty minutes or so of hard fighting even well conditioned dogs have to slow down and fight in flurries. The pace I run a dog at on his steady treadmill work helps prepare him to fight fast and steady for thirty minutes or so. The sprints of hard running with walking breaks really makes his heart and lungs work hard. It will help him recover fast and fight in strong bursts after the thirty minute mark. Some of the readers may wonder why I stop the treadmill work at thirty minutes? Why not build the dog up to two or even four hours of treadmill work a day. Some trainers do use up to four hours or more of millwork. I just don’t agree. I feel that at least 90% of the endurance a dog can gain in millwork can be gained in daily thirty minute workouts. Most dogs can take thirty minutes on the mill and recover, rebuild, and increase their endurance. Sure, another hour or two on the treadmill might give your dog 5-10% more endurance. Then again an extra hour or two on the mill may break your dog down to where he does not fully recover from each workout. It’s better to have a strong if slightly undertrained dog than an overworked dog. A dog that runs the treadmill thirty minutes a day for twenty-eight days is getting all the work he needs. It’s foolish to risk overtraining him for a small gain in endurance. Thirty minutes of treadmill work a day was all I gave Diamond when he beat Freddy Jones’ Major in a hard fight. Diamond was strong enough to fight another hour when the match ended. Most days Diamond got only twenty minutes on the mill and a seven mile walk with no other work. He was in super shape on this amount of work. I worked Tater for his 2hr and 10 min. win over the pit-ace Rastus from Maurice Carver. Tater was in excellent condition from a daily thirty minutes on the mill and a ten mile walk. I like to use the steady millwork one day and the wind sprint type work the next. The short hard sprints on the mill are hard on a dog and he needs a day between them to fully recover. You can control the pace most dogs run the mill at by talking to them or using bait. Some dogs will pace themselves others have only one speed full out. These dogs can easily strain themselves if you don’t take them off the mill often.
Roadwork isn’t much different than millwork. Running is running whether on the mill or the road. Start your dog with a 10 minute walk, then run him at a moderate pace of about 8 mph starting with 16 minutes of running. Cool him down after his roadwork with a long walk. Just as with the treadmill, thirty minutes a day is enough roadwork for any dog. Two other types of workouts that can benefit your dog are flirt and springpole work. The spring pole is just a piece of rubber a dog can bite attached to a heavy spring. A dog will tug on this and give himself a good workout. It works his neck and jaws, and builds the same muscles he’ll use in a fight. The flirt pole is just a pole with a line and a feather attached. You control it and make your dog chase the feather. With the flirtpole you can have your dog make the same quick turning movements he’ll make in a fight. On the roadwork it is a fact that lots of bulldogs have been killed by the truck or car while doing roadwork. A bicycle is much safer. The three wheeler or ATV with soft tires are also safe. The safest way of all is to run with the dog in harness on a long lead. Of course you must be in fair shape yourself to run far enough and fast enough to give your dog a good workout. A weighted harness that weighs about 5 lbs. will help you give your dog a good workout with a thirty minute run.
I have written out a conditioning program that combines walking, roadwork, and the treadmill. On this program the dog gets his roadwork in the morning and his millwork in the evening. You can give him his millwork in the morning and roadwork at night it makes no difference. On this program your dog will be walking 8 miles, running 5 miles, and doing 30 minutes of treadmill work on his hardest days. The walking you do with the dog should be as fast as possible. I think this conditioning program has enough work to put any dog in good fighting shape if followed consistently. I don’t think it’s a hard enough keep to overwork any young healthy pit-bull with good natural wind. You will notice I don’t give days off during the training. I don’t like giving a full day off unless the dog is feeling bad. A day off will cause a dog to loose a little of the condition your working for. I prefer to give him easy days. An easy day will give him some rest and still maintain and increase his endurance. Of course the three days before the fight you should give him complete rest. This way he will be completely rested for the match and able to use all the conditioning he has gained. During the training all the walking with the dog should be done as fast as you can walk, about 4 mph for most people. However, the walking on the three days before the fight should be done at a slow pace and no more than 2 miles per day. The purpose of walking on the last
three days is to keep the dog limber and give light exercise.
There is even more dispute over the proper feeding of a pit dog than there is over the proper way of training him. I am going to give you what I think is a good diet for a dog in training. It might be a lot different from the diets you’ve heard about. If you don’t like this diet then don’t use it. I promise you it will work very well. In the old days a common diet was 4lbs. of lean meat off the neck, and two pieces of toast. The latest trend in feeding the pit-dog during training is the high complex carbohydrate diet. Both of these diets are wrong. Four pounds of lean beef is not a balanced diet. The high carbohydrate diet works well for human long distance runners but, it is a very poor diet for a dog. Humans and certain animals like horses, sheep, cattle, etc. have a digestive system that handles carbohydrates quite well. A dog is a meat eater from a line of meat eaters. His digestive system does not handle large amounts of carbohydrates well. A fox raids the henhouse and the wolves raid the sheep. You don’t have to worry about chasing stray dogs away from your corn or wheat fields. Meat is a dogs natural food not carbohydrates. Still think I am wrong? Try this simple test. Prepare a meal of complex carbohydrates, corn, spaghetti, macaroni, potatoes, bread, or any other type of complex carbohydrate meal you like. Offer your hungry dog a bowl of fresh raw meat and a bowl of the complex carbohydrate meat at the same time. He will always eat the meat first. He may not even eat the carbohydrate meal at all. Anyone who uses the high carbohydrate method to feed their dog during conditioning is at a disadvantage. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy for some animals and people. A dog gets most of his energy from fat. Therefore putting a dog in condition on a low fat diet is not good. Give your dog a piece of fat and he will eat it faster then he would eat anything else. Fat is a natural food for a dog, especially a hard working dog. If the high carbohydrate diet is wrong, and the pure lean meat diet is wrong, what is the correct diet for a dog during conditioning. I would say a diet of about 38% protein, 32% fat, and 30% carbohydrate, along with proper amounts of vitamins and minerals and fiber or bulk is the best diet. How do you get such a diet ? Start with one of the highest grade commercial dog foods such as Science diet performance, or Waynes gold label. These dog foods are 31% protein, 20% fat, 10% moisture, 4% fiber, and 35% carbohydrate. This is the main part of his diet. Add to the commercial dog food one ounce of raw liver, two ounces raw cheese, and three ounces of raw hamburger with plenty ofgf fat in it. A small dose of a good vitamin mineral supplement but don’t overdo the vitamins. Enough vitamins is a good thing but, you can overdose on certain vitamins A & D • and they can be toxic. Before you start your dog’s evening workout take him for a walk and empty him out and then weigh him. This is his true empty weight similar to the conditions before the weigh in on fight day. Adjust the amount you feed him to his weight. Feed the dog according to his work for the next day. If he has a hard day coming feed him heavier than if he has an easy day coming. Try and keep his weight stable. He should weigh about the same every day. Have your dog at or very close to pit weight by a week before the fight. Don’t wait until the last couple of days to take off weight because you’ll weaken him. Remember a pound on a 4 0 lb. dog is the same as 4 lbs. on a 160 lb. man. A man can’t lose more than 3 or 4 lbs. a week without feeling weakened, so don’t take more than a pound a week off your dog. After he is cooled down from his work have clean fresh water for him to drink at all times. Let the dog’s thirst determine how much water he drinks. Don’t ever withold water from your dog to make weight. In other words DON’T dry your dog out. After a long match a dog will be dehydrated from loss of fluidfds and blood. If he came into the match already dry he will be that much worse off. DON’T change his diet the last days befgfore the fight. Just feed him somewhat less because he won’t be working it off. If you have to travel with the dog get him to the pit site way ahead of time so that he can rest and relax until fight time. DON’T let anyone near him and watch him at all times. I am often asked how to prevent someone from rubbing their dog or poisoning your dog. I don’t know any way to prevent it because it is not that hard to rub a dog after the wash is over. The best way to prevent being cheated is to avoid matching people with a reputation of cheating. Picking the referee is very important since his word is final as to the winner of the match and on any dispute that comes up during the match. BEWARE of the setup of two friends being the referee for each other. For instance Mr williams always referees mr smith’s matches and vice versa and they don’t seem to lose when their pal is the referee. Insist on a different referee. In fact it’s a good idea to agree on a neutral referee at the time you make the match. It is also a good idea to have the referee and the stakeholder be the same man, a man both you and your opponent can trust. Some last words of advice, stay alert the day of the match and pay attention to details. Watch after your dog. Make sure he gets his rest and does not eat anything you don’t want him to eat. Never leave him unwatched. Stay sober until the fight is over and the dog has been properly cared for. Sure, drink enough to calm your nerves but, don’t drink enough to slow you down. It could cost you the fight. If your dog’s life is in danger pick him up regardless of who else has bet on him. It’s better to pick up a dog 10 minutes too early and lose some money than to pick up your dog 1 minute too late and lose a fine dog as well. You don’t have to worry about a cur getting killed in a match because they will quit before their life is in any danger. A Game Dog is the one you need to pick up in time. Be sure to have everything with you that you will need to give your dog proper after the battle care. Have a friend with you that knows how to treat a dog after a hard fight if you are not experienced at this. Have a good vet that you can take your dog to in a hurry if necessary.