a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Chris Zink's Puppy Training Rules of Thumb

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chris Zink's Puppy Training Rules of Thumb

Chris Zink is a vet who specializes in canine sports medicine and participates in dog agility with her dogs. To avoid the risk of injuries in young dogs and to avoid the development of problems that will appear later, she recommends the following:
  • Between 6 and 14 months (Boost is now 10): Can use angled contacts but not full-height Aframe. No weave training that requires bending the spine (well--ahem--that would be pretty much most weave training). Jumps no higher than elbow. No endurance training. Strength training including beg, crawl, back up, roll over, wave, tugging in moderation (ha!), running uphill.
  • After 14 months (jeez--that's half a year from now!): Work up to full-height Aframe, start weaves, gradually raise jumps, all to reach maximum height/angle/bending by 18 months (!). Strength training 3 to 4 times a week, including jump chutes (a line of jumps--we've been doing some short ones in short groups for a couple of months), backing up stairs (ack, we started this already a month ago), side-stepping. Endurance training; start with 3 20-minute walks per week in a trot.
  • After 2 years: Serious endurance training such as in a trot for several miles every other day.)

All of which means that I have to be PATIENT and not start my weaves until much much later. I know that that many experienced trainers have simply waited and then taught their dogs weaves in a period of about 2 weeks right before they begin competing, same thing with not going up to full-height jumps until then. In AKC, though, you can legally start competing at 12 months. Lots of people whom I know have felt that this was a bad idea from the start. CPE allows 15 months. In USDAA, not until 18 months, which is my tentative goal.


  1. Thanks for you note about Flirt's Blog. Have you considered channel weaves. You can start them when they are babies. Working entries and just leave the channels open to at least shoulder width until they are old enough to weave.

    Flirt's agility partner

  2. I'm working on Susan Garrett's two-by-two weave teaching method, so I'll just be patient. :-) My last dog really learned to weave in about a 2-week period, so I'm not worried about waiting until much later to do it from a training or competing perspective; I'm just impatient in a general sense!