There are, as we all know, differences in the biochemical makeup between dogs and humans. Dogs, for example, don’t sweat and dogs have a tougher digestive system – genetically they are scavengers that can survive on less nutrition But there are important similarities. Just one example is creatine. Creatine is now one of the most popular substances used by all world class athletes – including body builders and football players. It was discovered at the turn of the 20th century, but not popularized until Bob Fritz (created the Unipro that changed to the Peak Performance so many canine athletes used in the 1980s. Now it is Animal Naturals – but I have been out of the loop for a long time and know nothing about Animal Natural products – except I have every confidence that as is always been the case the last 20 plus years I am sure they are ahead of their time) introduced it to the athletic world (including myself). I am quite familiar with all the hoopla about Bob and his products. I can tell the reader from my own personal experiences for decades – the critics are full of baloney. Back then I knew of some of the world renowned dog fighters (the reader would know the names) used to denigrate the Peak Performance, telling everyone it is hard on the dog’s digestion (it can be if fed incorrectly and in excess which many were prone to do), no good for canine athletic performance (making a long diatribe short). My paradigm, as a journalist for our breed, has always been to listen – but keep my own teeth closed. What those top dogmen didn’t know is that I also knew, on a first name basis, some of the breeders who were distributors of the products (Bob used to choose breeders with a large yard in different regions and sell the products to them at wholesale for them to market as distributors). And I knew that those dogmen who had all those bad things to say, insisting the products did not work – purchased them by the case for themselves and used them on a big scale (I saw the invoices). They just didn’t want others to have that edge. All the sports nutrition products in the world are of absolutely no value if you don’t have something that is game and has ability to work with. But – when you do – with two dogs of otherwise equality – they give an edge. A very deciding edge.
That is my take. that said, here is what is new today.Most of the readers know that I have never been a dog fighter and I don’t say that to satisfy some legal attorney. It is gospel. I found out the hard way back in the 1970s, when the sport was at best a fine lower than a speeding ticket, that to bring a dog in exactly on weight, ready to perform the most demanding sport on earth – that it involves a whole ball game beyond what those who are not real players realize. But I knew how human martial artists train for battle and what it takes for maximal health and strength. I did then and I do now. Been involved/studying it for half a century now – fifty years. I have always done my own experimentation – what I tried on my dogs I used myself. I think you always have to upgrade. Dogs upgrade and their training upgrades – I think the serious dogman must keep up with the latest in sports nutrition. For those who want it, here is what is new today. New in terms of engineering maximal muscle and endurance – and energy. Energyis the operative word here Muscle adds weight but my view is that if it is streamlined and it is not tight then it is protective. Take the dogs stifle. If the dog is a catch dog and a bad news boar hog repeatedly nails him in the stifle, it can sure hamper. Muscle won’t prevent the damage done – but it sure will mitigate it. The same is true in the human martial world. I train and condition my legs so that while a trained Muay Thai can buckle me – it take more on me than most and few sports karate fighters can bother my legs. I am saying muscle is not a panacea, but it protects. I used to keep very lean. Muscle uses Oxygen and large muscle is tight muscle. That is why world class boxers are lean – and those who look impressive – like Evander Holyfield – lack endurance and cannot be effective finishers if the bout is prolonged. That said, I am multi-trained – mixed martial if you will. And grappling emulates what a catch dog does. The catch dog is not boxing, he is grappling. And son – that will drain any boxer – seen it happen for decades. So I now train for protective muscle and power as well as endurance. You need it all or you lose a defining margin (especially at my age!). If someone gets me in an arm bar – a skinny fast but weak arm is detrimental. When wresting around in a hot humid swamp with a boss hog – a pit had better have endurance or the hog will wear him down. That has to be a given however. In addition, the dog must have strength and power to prevail if the hog is a bad one. The ability to continue when cut to pieces and losing fluids fast comes from more than aerobic endurance. I am saying you have to consider the trade-off. Muscle is dense and heavy. Big muscle takes up oxygen much faster than lean muscle. But the ideal is a balance so that you have protective powerful muscle with endurance. I mean the catch dog had better have lasting endurance – and beyond though, because he ain’t running no marathon. He is pushing around his own weight. If the reader doesn’t think that drains energy much quicker than running a marathon or engaging in sprints, try this – put your own weight on a barbell and go for a hundred squats for say five minutes. Set the barbell down and grab a heavy sandbag and wrestle around with it for another five minutes. Then do some pushups with a weighted back pack – then do hill repeats with the weighted back pack – you get the picture. Now – run for five minutes – or even sprint five minutes or even engage hill repeats without the weight and not preceded by doing the squats. Compare – you’ll see what pushing your own weight around does to your energy bank. What if you had to do that for half an hour? Longer? I think every man who is involved in canine athletics should try that experiment. Then the next time you are tempted to short cut, even just a little, your dogs preparation, you can see you are not justified in looking down on the dog who appears to lack game. But I am serious – Really. Try the squat, weighted pushups, weighted hill repeats program. Do it until you are dizzy, your legs feel like rubber and your mind tries to tell you that you can’t do another rep. Do another rep. Keep going. That will tell you more than a thousand X a thousand words. Feel what you need to do for your dog, you’ll be a much better trainer for it.
Energy. the operative word is ENERGY. For endurance, you need energy. For muscle growth you need energy because muscle grows fastest and strongest when you train a muscle with intensity. And the operative word for energy is ATP. No that isn’t something Native Americans lived in. It is adenosine triphosphate which is a vital molecule found in the body that provides the energy for endurance and muscle growth – for strength and performance. ATP is in the forefront today in human athletic performance nutritional supplementations. ATP is a nucleic acid that contains three (hence the term tri phosphate) phosphates that when activated releases a blast of energy that fuels muscle contraction and many other body functions. When ATP binds with certain receptors, it causes the release of nitric oxide (NO) in the blood. NO lines the blood vessels and when released, it causes a very potent dilation of the blood vessels and that means increase blood flow. If the blood is highly nutrient rich (a variety of healthy proteins), muscle grows healthier and, stronger. The increased blood flow also means less oxygen is required – so aerobic activity (endurance) is enhanced and recovery from overstressed muscles is expedited. You want ATP in the muscle for muscle contraction. When the third phosphate detaches, it releases a tremendous burst of energy. But unless extra is supplied – the burst of energy is short lived – which is the normal situation. The more ATP in the muscle cells, the more reps a weight trainer can perform – and the more hill repeats with heavier loads – and the longer a dog can run a mill or stay with his own weight and more catching hog. For decades, then, the athletic performance industry has engineered ways to drop excess ATP into the muscle. One hindrance to that concept is that taking oral ATP, initially, was found to be unproductive on any significant scale because the ATP becomes absorbed before it comes to the muscle. A number of chemical stimulants have been discovered, however, that activates the body to generate ATP itself and push it into the muscle. A number of processes accomplish this. One is the krebs cycle, which is an oxygen fueled process that burns glucose (sugar), fat, and amino acids to create ATP. This energy results in prolonging muscle and cardio endurance. A number of supplements have been proven through quality research and extensively used in the bodybuilding sport (and you find them splashed all over pages in the muscle magazines) and heavy contact sports like football or any sport that requires the athlete to pump iron extensively use them. Importantly – mixed martial artists like the UFC fighters use this stuff training for battle. I use it myself so I attest – it works. There are three that are particularly popular.
1) Creatine. Probably the most famous, today, is the creatine phosphororylation process. I have already mentioned, it was Bob Fritz that was responsible for the popularity of creatine in the sports nutrition world. He was the first person to introduce it to the athletic world in the mid-1980s. I, then, was one of the first to use this supplement. Part of the discovery of creatine came from studying the diet of wolves. The diet of wolves (wild dogs in effect) was of interest because of their athletic performance. Athletic because it was observed a wild wolf can range as much as 45 miles in a full day, and some a hundred miles. Wolves have been clocked at 24 to 28 mph for up to a mile. In Montana a wolf, being chased by a game warden, was clocked at 35 to 40 mph for four miles across a frozen lake. And power – wolves do not enter weight pulling contests, but as few as two wolves can take down an 800 pound moose and drag it about a hundred yards. I can (and will later) write a whole article about the diet of wolves – but one important ingredient they consume is creatine. Creatine comes from meat. But the kicker is – man – in all our infinite wisdom – trying to be smarter than God – we have come up with bigger fatter cows – but unhealthy nutrient deficient cow meat. It has been discovered that wild meat (deer) contains as much as TEN TIMES the amount of creatine as domesticated – cows, chickens, etc. Parenthetically, Don Mayfield used to get large pots of deer meat from hunters, I am told, to feed I guess about a hundred dogs. He didn’t know, I don’t think, how right on he was. Today you cannot pick up a muscle building magazine that does not have articles about creatine and chock full of companies marketing creatine products. Today, creatine is one of the most extensively studied performance enhancing substances, and touted to be the most effective supplement for shooting ATP into the muscle. This creates ENERGY for the muscle to perform longer and harder – and that increases strength. Creatine increases the time muscles can exert maximal power. It shoots ATP into the muscle providing anaerobic power. A human can perform more reps lifting weights and a runner can sprint faster, jump higher hurdles, and a baseball player can throw harder.
2)Citrulline Malate. This is the amino acid citrulline attached to malic acid, a molecule involved in the krebs (citric) cycle. The malic acid burns lactic acid prolonging the athletes performance. the citrulline removes ammonia from the body. Lactic acid is a compound that build when amino acids are metabolized during intense exercise and it is toxic to the muscle resulting in muscle fatigue until it is flushed out. Citrulline promotes energy production and simultaneously flushes out fatigue-causing metabolic waste. Removing the ammonia delays fatigue. citrulline is converted to arginine in the body and arginine produces the nitric oxide (NO) mentioned above. As stated, NO enhances blood flow and greater blood flow means greater oxygen delivery to the muscle – and indirectly this enhances ATP production in the muscle, resulting in greater energy for anaerobic POWER.. Citrulline has been proven in the medical community for use reducing muscle fatigue in the elderly. Citrulline is made from argenine and ornithine. It has been proven in both human and animal studies. From Wikipedia I learned that citrulline comes from the word citrullus, a Latin word for watermelon. It is made, in part, from watermelon. Puritan’s Pride (I get some of my supplements from – Google them) has a citrulline plus watermelon supplement.
3) Pyruvate. Pyruvate is an organic acid, a natural byproduct of glucose metabolism. When you supplement with extra pyruvate, the aforementioned krebs cycle picks it up and provides the muscle with extra ATP, burning more fat and glucose. It greatly enhances burning fat, increased endurance and ATP activity/energy production. You can find numerous sports performance studies that confirm this. One gram per ten pounds body weight is suggested. Too much on one serving with humans can give gastric irritation, dogs handle it better though. Best is to spread it out in several small feedings. Google Bodytech Pyruvate and Pinnacle Pyruvate or Genis Nutrition for some good sources.
4) Ribose. Ribose is a sugar that is part of the high-energy phosphate that forms part of the ATP molecule. Providing extra ribose also enhances muscle endurance. Doesn’t directly make you stronger, but it allows extra reps pumping iron, extra reps for a dog pulling a load, longer time on a springpole etc. In that respect it makes the body tougher and stronger. D-ribose supplements also enhances recovery of ATP levels following intense training. It kind of works like a steroid in this respect.
5) ATP. As mentioned above, it was initially discovered that supplementing with pure ATP had little effect on muscle because it gets absorbed before it gets into the muscle. However, it has since been discovered and is now all over all the training magazines, that ENTERICALLY coated ATP gets shuffled directly into the intestines where it can be effectively absorbed. Coopers Institute in Dallas did a classic and now famous study that got published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise periodical. They used what is now called Peak ATP (Google it). they found it significantly enhances muscle ATP. They also found that when stacked with creatine the effect on the muscle is greatly enhanced. The International Journal of Sports Nutrition (June 1999)(and a laundry list of other published quality studies) reported significant anaerobic performance and body composition and endurance with these stacked supplements.
Stacked is performance supplementation parlance for synergistically (the sum of the parts taken together can be greater total effect than the sum of the individual effects) combining to enhance effectiveness. This means that when you “stack” creatine, citrulline malate, pyruvate, and ribose, with enterically coated ATP – you get WOW!
Loading is another performance concept, It means that when you begin supplementation you introduce it with three to five times as much for about a week and then you level off to the prescribed amount. Most of the supplement containers instruct this but it is mentioned here to explain why. At introduction, the muscles are like the empty cup. When you load heavy the muscle soaks it up. Then it will absorb only the prescribed amount and any more is a waste and can be too much. But when you “load” – you enhance the effect. “Again only provide these athletic enhancements when your dog is undergoing real heavy training – and recovering from. So about six weeks out from a long hunt in the swamps, for example. After the dog recovers, wean off until the next outing. Personally, I am now too old to compete in the ring – my last full contact kickboxing event was in 2006 in which I won each round unanimous. But now I just show up at the gym and spar and train – too old to compete. However – I still take the supplements. But I stagger them taking them only when I put myself through some heavy training, discontinue when I slack off – it is not good for me to stay overtraining. I train 7 days a week. But when I “slack off” I do mostly my karate kata, iron palm and iron body, running without sprints enjoying the country, ease up on squats, deadlifts – the emphasis is away from heavy to maintenance. You see.
The next question is – for a dog – how much and how often? I am astonished that for all the years of human sports enhancement study – most of the supplements say take such-and-such grams. To me, it matters whether you are, like myself, 5 7″ and 150 pounds – or 6 3″ and 250 pounds. So I think (but don’t really know) the thing to do is assume the suggested quantity is for a 180 pound human athlete. So for a 45 pound dog – I’d say grind the supplements in one of those little bowls with a vitamin crusher you can get in health food stores, and go with 1/4 of the human dose. Or – just go ahead and give the human capsules – but only during very serious, hard training. This is expensive and I’m not sure if you don’t get all of this in Bob Fritz’s new product K9 Super Fuel (by Animal Naturals). I don’t know enough on K9 super Fuel to write about it. I’d Google it if interested.
This article is about ATP and I could write a book on human performance enhancement. Briefly, for now, you can “stack” even more by combining Creatine-AKG with Glutamine AKG mixed with the aforementioned Citrulline Malate (AKG is another krebs cycle). This combination is especially productive in shooting creatine and glutamine into the muscle cells without loss. A product called ANAVOL (found at GNC) has these powerful ingredients. You have to peruse the muscle magazines and Google around to find the stuff – it is all over. Caffeine also enhances, synergistically the effectiveness of these supplements. Plain old black, cold coffee does it.
There is another serious way of boosting/bolstering the effectiveness of this supplementation. Massage. I can and will make a whole article on this at a later date. The subject is dealt with extensively in the “Scientific Conditioning” chapter of my Dogs of Velvet and Steel, Revised Edition (2012) book (ATP is also discussed). Massage is an aspect of conditioning the importance of which is little comprehended by today’s handler/conditioners. I suggest, again, that the best way to understand it is to feel it. Put in a very hard – hard as you have ever done training. Then go get a massage from a competent professional masseuse. You become a better trainer when you fully dig by experiencing. A quality, professional massage expedites the flushing out of lactic acid and stimulates the muscle by providing a fresh supply of oxygen rich blood to the areas where it is needed. For many, a lack of comprehending the extent of the benefits means the time doesn’t get justified. Find out. Try it on yourself. There is a reason boxers, gymnasts – all contact sports players, get regular massages. I know. I get them myself. My masseuse is also a registered nurse and physical therapist. She stretches, elongates my muscles and she works on my hip and shoulder and leg hinges stretching and strengthening my range of movement. Gymnasts and ballet athletes train 6 to 8 hours a day. How? It isn’t all aerobic and anaerobic. Many hours are spent stretching – and massage. Gives them POWER – explosive power, as well as expediting recovery. Here is a very concise explanation. We all know that we build muscle, recover from hard training and overall get tougher from the hormone testosterone. Training stimulates testosterone production. But there is a flip to that. Navy Seals had blood tests at the end of BUDS training in a study. They had extremely low testosterone, high estrogen levels. Another test revealed the same with Marines at the end of boot camp. Of course rest rebuilds the body’s ability to produce testo. But very recent research indicates that anabolic condition is a function of the body’s testo/cortisol ratio. Researchers at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philly found that engaging in Yoga after heavy training VERY SIGNIFICANTLY lowers cortisol blood levels and therefore raises blood testo (cited in Muscle & Fitness November 2009). Also cited in M &F – a study presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society reported very significant reduction in cortisol levels following a Yoga session. That is just one of several studies going back decades. That is just one of my many tricks of the trade. I generally follow my serious hard training with some relaxing stretching and Yoga. It works, folks. Again, many pages are devoted to this in the Dogs of Velvet and Steel book. Massage, to me, is a form of canine Yoga. Want an extra boost to that? Music. Research also shows the same effect on the body’s hormones from music. And – the most productive music is – classical – like they play at symphonies – and (to make a longer story short), the most productive of all is Mozart. I often do this play Mozart while engage Yoga. What about dogs do I hear? Well – the initial research was done on dogs! Found it works VERY EFFECTIVELY. So they tried it on human athletes and found it works with humans as well.
I have to inject another tip. I used to work some dogs with a dogman who taught me this. You need a long, long trail through woods and fields for best. After very hard mill and spring pole work, you feed your dog nutrient rich food/supplements (nutrient dense, small amount) well watered. Then your partner walks ahead of you with the dog he is working. You stay back about 5 yards or however it takes for your dog to be constantly straining to get up front but not too close. At the end of several miles, you turn around and walk back, you are in front, your partner’s dog is straining. This is called blood volume training (BVT)(the term is cited in Muscle Mag INTL. but the concept has been mine for decades – and I have used similar on myself decades – i.e. push my truck, drag a truck tire, barefoot but that’s another story, slow weighted pushups, etc. – same concept). You get peak contraction while the dog strains. This floods the muscles with nutrient rich blood (hence the term BVT) and you have hyper-hydrated or pumped the dog’s muscularity. When you have finished you spend a good long time with quality massage. The strained walking is intense antagonistic contraction. The massage is a blended protraction. For the experienced catch dog – massage, done properly, smoothes and dissipates scar tissue – and scar tissue tightens and stiffens athletic ability. I KNOW massage smoothes out the scar tissue. I have decades of scar tissue that was tight and was smoothed out to renew fast explosive muscle in myself.
The salient aspect of it here is that massage also works those supplements into the body. There are a kitchen sink full of sports supplements – branched chained amino acids (bcaa)- a lot – but this article is about CONCEPTS, not specifics and the focus here is on energy boosting. It is worth mention, the bcaa leucine boosts glucose, other amino acid muscle repair and push creatine into muscle cells. Massage flushes in and out fresh oxygen and nutrient rich blood in and out of the muscles. Nutrient-rich is the key here. You enhance the effect with the supplements mentioned – along with quality muscle repairing and building proteins that you must supply in addition to the ATP krebs cycle mentioned in this article. In other word the effectiveness of the time you put into giving your dog’s massage is correlated directly with the quality of the blood ingredients.
Yes, these supplements work. I consume them myself. I m not a dog fighter. I am a human fighter. Am I muscular? Yes I am. Lean and muscular? Yes. Do I have large freaky muscles like a body builder? No. Tight muscle? NO. I pump iron, but I also stretch a lot – every day (arms and shoulders, back, not just legs). Do I have muscular endurance? Yes. For many rounds of mixed martial arts sparring? Depends, of course, on the fighter! But in general, yes, even an opponent who outweighs me fifty pounds. Not brag – a point – – I am not a dog fighter and I know there is more to putting a pit dog on weight pit ready than just physical training. But there is much the modern human athlete does that works for the canine athlete, be it the hunting dog or the Schutzhund dog – or the Iditarod sled dog. In other words it is not just something I read about in a book, I’m saying again, this stuff works. I works because it allows the athlete, human or canine, to work longer and harder. So – don’t feed it unless you work the dog longer and harder. This is not for a half hour walk or a half hour on a treadmill. This is for severe, draining, gut busting work. Serious training only. Otherwise these supplements can be toxic and a waste. These supplements are behind a significant aspect of athletic performance. Want a super canine athlete? Feed the dog like a human super athlete. None of this can make a dog game – but it will build a very tough dog.