This will be a 6-week program, with a 2-week pre-keep:
Using a good harness, walk the dog out for about 1 hr a day, checking the pads regularly. Try to keep him at a decent clip, maybe 3-4 mph (you can do a little flirt pole work, I don’t suggest more than a few minutes per session 2-3 x a week, and make sure its on a surface that won’t tear his pads up). We do this for 6 days of the 1st week if there are no problems with the pads. The 7th day he gets about a 30 minute walk. After each workout, we like to rub the dogs down from the nose, down to the toes, a 20 min rubdown does more for that dog than most people think.
Same as week 1, but we increase the time of the walks to 1.5 hours a day. This is nothing for the dog, he’s just loosening up and his pads are getting tougher. You’re also creating a special bond with the dog while you’re walking along, talking to him, building trust, BECOMING A TEAM.
Give the dog about a 30 min walk at a moderate pace, then get yourself to a place where you can hook up the long lead to him and let him do some sprints, and ball work if he’ll do it, or maybe he’ll chase some small game if they’re around. A little flirt pole work LOW TO THE GROUND will work well here also. It’s important that you get him to open up. After about 15-30 min of some serious playing I’ll continue the walk for another hour, then bring him home for his rubdown and feed.
Got your weight pull harness ready? Walk the dog out for about at least 20 minutes, making sure he’s empty, then hook him up to the weight pull harness with a 5-10 pound chain on the end (depending on the size and strength of the dog) and get him moving at a good pace for about 30 min, which is equivalent to a bout 2 miles or so, give or take, now you’re ready to take the weight off, and finish up with a cool down walk for about 1 hr. A warm bath and a good rubdown is how I like to end day 2. And don’t forget to rubdown the dog too.
Dog should be ready for some work when you go out to greet him. Get your walking shoes on cause it’s 2 hours at a fast walk today. Also, you might throw in 15 minutes or so of some ball work
Same as day 3, minus the ball work
Same as day 2, with a little flirt pole to start the day
Day 6: Rest day, 20 min walk out.
Each week I will increase the walking time by 1 hr, so by peak week I will be up to 4-5 hrs of walking, which is equivalent to about 15-20 miles. I will keep the 15-30 minutes of “playing” the same, and the 2 miles or so of weight pull stays the same throughout the keep. I will cycle down on the work once we reach our peak, and the dog will have its last day of real work 1 week out from 6 days out to 4 days out, all he’s doing is some light hand walking, dialing in his feed appropriately. 3 days out till the weight pull only time he’s going out, is to empty. Through out the whole keep, its IMPERATIVE to monitor your dogs pads CONSTANTLY.
I will try and start out the dog on a 6 on 1 off cycle, or maybe a 5-1, but this is just an outline. I have to take a lot of things into account such as the weather, how the dog is acting, how I am feeling, etc., and then make some minor adjustments in how we’re going to achieve our goals. You can never make up for lost time, so don’t try to. If you need a couple of days off, or your dog needs a couple, then by all means, TAKE THE TIME OFF. But don’t try and make that time back up by putting undo stress on the dog; it’s a gradual process.
Many dogs have been conditioned SOLELY on electric mills with great success. I’ve seen dogmen work their dogs for a few hours on the e-mill at 3-4 mph and come in and win. The e-mill is a great tool, but nothing compares to getting out there with your dog and hitting the road.
Now if you take the basic concept of this keep, add a swim tank, or a mill, a jenny, some bite work, etc., make some adjustments, add your own flavor, you’re going to have a happy, healthy, well adjusted dog that’s going to come in with lots of air, and some serious strength. No matter what form of exercise regime you use, there is no substitute for solid dedication, common sense, and a good dog.
The above keep has been used by us 4 times, we’re 3-1 with it. The loss was a game pick up at 2:03. I hope this helped some of the folks that had questions about roadwork.