The Amercian Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) currently reigns at first place on our list of ‘Top Four FITDOG Breeds’. Possibly the most controversial breed on the planet, the ‘Pit Bull’ is both loved and feared around the world, with the latter mostly due to ignorance. This breed is one of the few in the world that has stood the test of time as a working dog due to being bred specifically for performance and not confirmation (form always follows function), although that has sadly been changing rapidly recently.
In todays blog article we are going to review the specific exercise considerations when it comes to helping your APBT perform to the highest level possible!
To understand the APBT’s requirements it’s essential that we review the breed itself. The APBT is a product of various breedings between the bulldogs and terriers of old. It’s was created to be the ultimate combat breed and its purpose was to engage in baiting activities ranging from dogs to bears. However, its most recent history (last 80-100 years) has seen the breed be used specifically for dog on dog combat which has developed the breed into a smaller more agile and highly driven dog ranging between 38-48 lbs. Dog fighting required a lighter dog that was able to be handled in the pit and also possess the capacity to endure long bouts of 1-2 hours or more of fighting. It’s this fine detail of the APBT’s history that has enabled it to become a great all round athlete with both Endurance, Strength, Agility and Power.
The APBT exhibits great levels of endurance in many different areas. Due to their high Type IIA & Type IIB muscle fibres including their highly efficient cardiovascular and respiratory systems the APBT have incredible speed endurance, aerobic endurance and muscular endurance. This means they are able to maintain a high intensity of work rate for longer. This is unique compared to other breeds who generally lose intensity as the duration of the activity increases. It can be said that this endurance ability has been developed through needing to perform for long bouts in the pit. It’s important that today’s APBT still exercise their endurance in order to burn excess energy and maintain healthy.
One of the best ways to boost endurance is through running related activities. Specialised Fetch training like our Ballfit12 Program is perfect because it uses the APBT’s natural high prey drive to develop endurance through the specific Ball based movements. Treadmill running is also highly beneficial, especially for those days when weather is poor. Our specialist Slatmill provides you with the ability to also track your dogs workout via our speed computer.
Canine agility is defined by a dogs ability to rapidly change body direction, accelerate, or decelerate. Canine agility was not only crucial for fighting dogs but is essential for most working dogs today involved in hunting, protection, flyball and of course the agility sport.
One of the best ways to maintain and boost your dogs agility is through flirt pole conditioning. The flirt pole is one of the most dynamic conditioning tools because it works not only agility but also power and muscular endurance. However, like most tools, it’s not what you do its how you do it and so many dog folks use the flirt poleincorrectly. Use the following tips to flirt for agility:
- Keep your dogs feet on the ground
- No air time, jumping or landing (It’s impressive to look at but not needed and the risk out weights the reward)
- Only circular movements to begin with until your dog is at least a ‘3’ on the Canine Body Assessment Scale.
- Progress from circular movements to back and forth movements
- Make sure you add in a rest period of at least 1:1 work to rest ration. So for example if they work for 1 minute then rest for 1 minute and continue is sets. Most people get this wrong and they get the dog too tired to the point where they are not increasing agility anaerobically but rather doing an aerobic exercise. This is a big error as aerobic exercise is proven to reduce strength and decrease agility.
- As your dog gets more agile and is at least ‘3’ on the Canine Body Assessment Scale you can make the flirt pole sessions more challenging by adding resistance to the flirt pole session using a 4lb Weighted dog Collar. When used properly the Weighted dog collar is an ideal tool to help increase agility as it increases the speed of the Type IIB muscle fibres.
The APBT is one of the strongest breeds in the world. Especially when it comes to relative strength which is defined as the most weight that can be moved by a dog in relation to their size (lb for lb). (Absolute strength is a different type of strength). This is owed in part to the APBT’s significantly high type II muscle fibre composition and high bone density which is perfect for strength based activities such as Weight Pulling.
An added benefit is their drive and eagerness to please. Weight pulling is a perfect sport for the APBT not only because they are genetically and physically suited to it but also because the sport itself has so many benefits such as:
- Increasing the handler – dog bond
- Reducing hyperactivity
- Increase lean muscle
- Reduces risk of hip and knee injuries
- Great for socialisation
Power is a canine fitness component commonly confused with strength although they are both two different elements of canine fitness. Power is all about speed. The definition of power is a dogs ability to produce maximal force in the fastest time possible. A great example of this is the Wall climb event.
APBT’s are significantly more powerful than most other breeds and it’s due to the reflexivity of their muscles that allow them to generate high amounts of force at a rapid rate. Additional examples of power training involve:
Got a question? Cool, feel free to post it in the comments below. Also if you want any specific advice you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep Them Fit!