Off-Season Training with BETH BRADLEY
Schutzhund Life is pleased to welcome 2016 USCA National IPO Champion and WUSV Team Member Beth Bradley to the blog! Beth and her dog Fyte von der Staatsmacht are well-known figures in the Schutzhund world, and I am excited to have her join us to talk about off-season training.
Nearly every part of the country will most likely experience some period of time where weather impedes the ability to actively train. In the western U.S., the extreme heat of summer months and dry conditions make it a challenge to train. Snow and ice in the northern part of the U.S. make training from January-March difficult for many. But even if we can train year-round, should we? Beth has some great insight to share!
What general time frame do you consider your “off-season” with Fyte?
Beth: After Nationals – March.
What does your off-season look like for each phase?
Beth: I usually track up until the first snow fall. This is the first year I didn’t but I needed the break not Fyte. I do some form of obedience every day. I usually spend my off season time working on small things I can do inside and working on the basics. Fronts and finishes, staying focused on me in the basic position, proper indication of articles, holding the dumbbell etc. I teach stupid pet tricks to keep him interested and to keep the training fun. If the ground is safe outside I will work heeling and send aways. [In protection], if it’s snow covered, just precision work, for focusing on helper, heeling, transports, and then the helper comes to the dog for a bite. This was the bite is controlled and we don’t have to worry about either being injured.
What do you do for conditioning for Fyte?
Beth: I do most of my conditioning during the off season. Treadmill for icy days, balancing on the bosu ball or conditioning balls for strengthening (which I do 3 days a week anyway). I also do inside jumps, not high, just a lot of reps for rear end awareness/muscle work. I also do hiking up hills and sled pulling in the winter.
Do you change anything with Fyte’s diet?
Beth: I feed my normal amount; he does carry so extra weight in the winter but by May it’s burned off.
What do you and Fyte do for a little R&R and fun in the off-season?
Beth: I like to hike a lot in the winter. Especially when there is snow on the ground. It’s quiet time for me and the dogs get to run and have fun in the woods.
When the weather’s nasty outside, what are some of your favorite things to do/work on?
Beth: Unless it’s icy or snowing, I like to be outside. If I have to be inside it’s the stupid pet tricks. Teaching him to lift his leg on something/someone, roll over, play dead, put the recycling away, just stupid things that make me laugh. I’m pretty easy to amuse.
When do you start preparing for the upcoming trial season?
Beth: Once the snow melts, that can be March or April. Then it’s back to 2-3 phases per day.
Is “off time” important to you and Fyte?
Beth: I think every athlete needs a break. I’m pretty in tune to Fyte and his movement and he is sensitive to me, so when something is slightly off kilter, I see it. Both of us were tired coming off this fall trial season. We both needed a mental break from sport activities.
Fyte with helper Badr Benabdessadek during training for the WUSV. Photo: Christina O'Kane.
What are some of your favorite non-Schutzhund activities to do together?
Beth: We play flip cup, joking. Hiking, when the pool is open it’s swimming. But I like the hiking the best; just me and my dogs walking in the woods.
Anything else you wish to add, or any parting advice for fellow Schutzhunders?
Beth: Know your dog. If he was always sitting nice and now, for no reason, he is crooked, more than likely it’s physical and not being stubborn. Many people go right into “I’m going to make him do it” mentality instead of looking at the reason why he stopped doing it.
Beth and Fyte with Assistant Team Captain Heike Muller-Hamann at the WUSV. Photo: Christina O'Kane.
Thank you, Beth, for sharing your time and your insight with us! Best of luck to you and Fyte in this next competition season. Thank you to Beth and to Christina O'Kane for the photos.