Crufts champions Hayley and Teal, her Shetland Sheepdog, were thrilled with their success at Crufts 2019! The dynamic duo enjoyed success throughout the weekend, and even went on to win the Agility Championship on the Sunday. Success doesn’t come without real grit, hard work and a whole lot of dedication. From eating right to yoga, there are a number of ways that Hayley her canine companion prepare to be at peak performance for competition. Read on to find out their five prime preparation tips!

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“Teal and I both have to be as fit as possible to perform at our best in competition,” Hayley explains. “This involves a number of factors for both of us that we work on every single day.” For strength, Hayley’s routine involves weightlifting and Pilates-style workouts, while Teal uses specialist balance equipment for dogs, like a FitPAWS K9FITbone balance board* and also wobble cushions. Treadmill and sprinting drills keep the team fast on their feet, while Teal does proprioceptive exercises (try saying that five times!) to improve body awareness. They even work on Yoga exercises together before bed!

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Tailored Training

The pair tailor their training sessions to match the next event. In the lead up to a big competition, Hayley and Teal run a full course once a week, making sure their timing is on point to deliver a high percentage of clear rounds. On other training days they work on shorter, more specific sequences, and individual skills that may need to be fine-tuned. It’s not all top tier training. Weekly relationship-building exercises, like walking and trick training, helps secure their strong bond. Teal even helps around the house, doing the same tasks that an assistance dog at Canine Partners would do!

Nurtured Nutrition

Hayley, with guidance from a nutritional advisor, ensures both her and Teal’s diet plans match their training routine, helping them perform at their best whether they’re training or competing. “We make sure we are both fuelled correctly for running and competing at our very best, and this involves a strict nutrition plan.” Hayley ensures they both supplement their diets as needed, constantly assessing what works and what doesn’t on a daily basis. She’s currently working towards a Canine Nutrition Diploma, ensuring she can give Teal the very best nutrition for his needs.

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Mental Preparation

Mental preparation is equally as important as physical preparation for the pair. “90% of my preparation is mental,” says Hayley. “What you think you become.” She meditates twice a day to work on breathing control, helping control her excitement during competition. Visualisation is a large part of Hayley’s mental preparation too. “In the lead up to the event I will visualise the environment I will be competing in. The sounds, smells, feel – everything!” She visualises the whole process, from the warm up and starting line, to the run itself.

Setting Goals

Setting achievable goals is key to Hayley and Teal’s success. They don’t simply aim to win an event. “Lots of smaller, achievable goals put in place consistently will help you achieve your dreams,” Hayley explains. For Hayley and Teal, this could mean running a 30 metre sprint in less than five seconds, or gaining a certain number of clear rounds at an event. For you and your furry friend, training goals can be as small and achievable as basic commands, and recall training.

It’s clear that Hayley and Teal’s adventures are achieved through a lot of hard work. If their training plan has inspired you to start some doggy adventures of your own, then you may benefit from The Insurance Emporium’s flexible Dog Insurance policies. These policies can be tailored to suit you and your pet, and include cover for up to £8,000** in Vet’s Fees. You could even get up to 30% discount too.^ Visit The Insurance Emporium to find out more!

* This blog is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with FitPAWS.

** Vet’s fees up to £8,000 available on Lifetime Gold policy.

^ The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies.

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