LESSON FOUR: TIME OVER TENSION
Think of building muscle as a formula. Time / Tension + Recovery = Muscle Building. In this lesson we’re going to begin incorporating a wait or hold time to each movement. This ups the game a little and makes the exercises more benefical because not only are we teaching our puppy where and how to move, by incorporating time, they are also going to begin building up muscle tissue.
How’s it going? How are you feeling about the progress you and your puppy are making? Are you noticing any differences in the way they move and position their bodies on and off the board? Check out Gilly the Bernese Mountain Dog’s videos in the Facebook group for a look at how these exercises effect your puppy’s movement and body strength into adulthood. Gilly is over a year old and enjoyed doing yoga workouts as a pup from 8 to 16 weeks old. You can see by the way he is able to sit, stand, and lay down with very little erroneous movements how the yoga work strengthened his body and helped him build great posture. And be sure to post videos of your pups in action, we’d love to see how they are doing!
In this lesson we are going to begin working in some ‘time over tension’. What does that mean? Simply put: we are going to ask our puppies to WAIT. What waiting does is #1, teach our puppies impulse control. We all know just how far a little patience can go in life. And #2, it gives the muscle fibers time under contraction before release. This is how we build muscle. It doesn’t do much good for puppy to quickly go through the motions of this workout. And while we aren’t looking for them to hold the position for minutes on end, it is going to benefit them much more in the long run to slow down and wait. To begin, we’re just going to count to 3. That’s all. Over time you can work your way up, but for puppies- three seconds is a good round number. I mean, we do still have to factor in their short attention spans. Patience and muscle are built over time in BABY STEPS.
For the movements in this lesson we are going to utilize hand targets. If you already know how to teach this, great! If you don’t, here’s a quick primer: Hold your hand palm flat out in front of your puppy. Make it easy and stay pretty close. When he inevitably goes to sniff and TOUCH it with his nose, mark it with a “YES!” and quickly reward with a food treat from your opposite hand. Continue this until he is reliably hitting the target 5 out of 6 times. Walk away for awhile. Come back and ask again only this time, say the word “TOUCH!” BEFORE presenting your hand and reward in the same manner. Now we are teaching a verbal command for the target touch. Again, once he is getting the idea 5 out of 6 times, stop. We want him to have some time to process. Don’t get greedy. Training puppies is much easier and behaviors become stronger when learned in short bursts. 3 minutes. Try to stay within that range. Next time, move your hand around to either side of his head, lower, higher, further away, etc. Switch hands even. Now your puppy can hand target! Super easy, right?
Practice neck work with your puppy only one session a day. Use your hand targets and the ‘wait’ command to begin building in some time/tension. This lesson may be a little more frustrating for you or your puppy, but don’t stress. She will get it. Walk away and try again later. It’s no big deal. Also begin incorporating the wait into the other exercises we’ve already covered, but no more than one at a time. As you begin using the wait or hold, allow your puppy more time to recover from the workout. If you’ve been practicing twice a day, go to one session a day. If you have been working once daily, switch to an every other day practice. You puppy’s mind and muscles need time to recover and build strength. This occurs during a resting phase.