Safe Dog Training Tips

Recommendations to Avoid Dog Traumatizing

It is much spoken about dogs' spine problems now. I wrote these recommendations how to prevent them long ago. This is not only and not so much a genetic issue as our mindlessness. To your opinion.

How to avoid traumas and to keep dog's health safe while active sports? Some guidelines, which oriented not to hurt dogs affectedly and not to look for the reasons of spine issues appeared, are listed below:

Sergey Zhirkevich1. Find out how the dog picks up a ball (toy), thrown away while you watch it. There is no problem if it waits when it will bounce and grabs. Don't throw the ball to the dog too far if it "kills" the ball when it is on the ground - there is a very strong possibility to get a spine trauma because of abrupt shock-twisting loads.

2. Never throw a ball (toy) to dogs on the down grade even if it doesn't seem sharp. Try to avoid frontal attacks giving commands for fetching downhill - this is dangerous not only because of spinal traumas, but also to smash in front teeth on a fetch tool.

3. NEVER throw the ball to the dog up vertically.

4. Don't use Frisbee disc to play with your dog.

5. Dogs, which are kept in open-air cages, should have enough weight in winter not to have kidneys disease, first of all. That is why go easy on too dynamic loads, jumps and frontal attacks in winter period.

6. Never train the dog when it is icy and slippery in winter (it is enough for the dog to slip at a blind so that to have huge problems caused by sustained trauma).

7. Don't keep dogs in cramped cages or boxes.

8. Warm up and knead your dogs before any training, jumping and protection especially. Five-minute walk or walking around is enough sometimes. But it is better knead and warm up more intensively. Don't drag your dogs out from a box in the car to jumping and protection at once. No way.

9. Don't use different rubber bands for "attack speed increase" of for grip strengthening during protection training - this makes intervertebral discs tired hard.

10. If you use bite builders (bite pads) to practice frontal attack, don't overwork with it and train the dog with a bite sleeve as often as possible. The dog should feel strongly about attack with the sleeve to tuck itself up more and to tense appropriate sets of muscles. Remember that it is a shock spine compression, which goes first and relatively fluent decompression follows it at frontal attack. G force may rise to 6 unites sometimes (i.e the dog's weight achieves 200-250 kg). I'm saying this as a pilot, who knows the influence of overloads on the spine (SPINAL DISC HERNIATION is one of the work-related diseases of fighter pilots and sportsmen pilots) some of my friends have up to 7-8 at once)).

11. Do not work on frontal attacks far too often.

12. Avoid frequent training with hurdles above 150 cm. As a rule, 1 m jump has no bad influence on spine if the dog doesn't fall on its back as the result of a mistake.

13. Don't hold a leash too high during attack - this will help to prevent dog overturning and falling 1 m or higher on the back if it wants to bite the sleeve (I hope you understood what I mean).

14. Don't work on protection if you don’t know a decoy - ask first how he works with the other dogs. Don't work on frontal attacks and other dynamic exercises if you are in doubt - work at guard phases, barking in the blind and so on.


Be safe!

Sergey Zhirkevich*

Sergey Zhirkevich is the head trainer, coach, decoy, sportsman, International Dog Sport Judge. He is in cynology since 1987. Sergey Zhirkevich is:

  • A delegate from Russia in the FCI Commission for Utility Dogs since 2010;
  • The member of RKF (Russian Kynological Federation) Sport in 2009-2013;
  • The Chairman of the RKF Commission for International Utility Dog Trials and International Tracking Dogs Trials in 2009-2013;
  • Included in Pool of FCI Judges since 2013;
  • IPO, FH coach, decoy, trainer.

Sporting Achievements in Dog Sport

Sergey Zhirkevich took part in 90 starts with 8 dogs in various disciplines totaled up. There are 14 starts at the International and European Championships among them.

The landmark achievements are:

  • Russia IPO-FH (2009, 2017, 2018) Three-time Champion;
  • IPO-FH Russian Cup Two-time Winner (2010, 2017);
  • Russia IPO-FH Vice-champion (2011);
  • IPO-FH Russian Cup Silver Medalist (2011);
  • IPO-FH European Championship 2010 Bronze Medalist in individual and team events;
  • 4th place in individual and 5th place in team events at the IPO-FH European Championship 2011;
  • 10th place at the IPO-FH World Dog Show 2011;
  • IPO-3 Russian Cups Winner (2007, 2011);
  • IPO-3 Russian Championship 2011 Bronze Medalist in team event;
  • IPO-3 Russian Championship 2010 and 2013 Bronze Medalist in individual and team events;
  • IPO-3 Russian Championship 2014 Bronze Medalist;
  • IPO-3 Ukrainian Championship 2006 Silver Medalist;
  • IPO-3 International Trials 2014 in Greece Winner;
  • Participant of FCI 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 and WUSV 2007 World Cups with 3 dogs (272 points "very well" was the best result, 22nd place, the 3rd result among German Shepherd Dogs and the 2nd result on the trail);
  • 15th place at WUSV 2014 International Championship;
  • Many-time captain of Russian team at IPO (VPG) and IPO-FH World Championships;
  • Trainer of 2 IPO-3 Russian Championships (2003, 2006), IPO-3 2012 Russian Championship Vice-champion, IPO-3 2013 Russian Championship Bronze Medalist;
  • The best sportsman of the Russian Union of German Shepherd Owners (2007).

Sergey Zhirkevich is the co-owner of the largest (on working lines) of FCI German Shepherd and Malinois purebred kennel "Love & Spirit".

Sergey is a highly-qualified specialist, which is opened to cooperation.