Feed an Athletic Canine Like You Feed a Human Athlete by Bob Stevens

Bob Stevens (right)

Bob Stevens (right)

There are, as we all know, differences in the biochemical makeup between dogs and humans.  Dogs, for example, don’t sweat and dogs have a tougher digestive system – genetically they are scavengers that can survive on less nutrition  But there are important similarities.  Just one example is creatine.  Creatine is now one of the most popular substances used by all world class athletes  – including body builders and football players.  It was discovered at the turn of the 20th century, but not popularized until Bob Fritz (created the Unipro that changed to the Peak Performance so many canine athletes used in the 1980s.  Now it is Animal Naturals – but I have been out of the loop for a long time and know nothing about Animal Natural products – except I have every confidence that as is always been the case the last 20 plus years I am sure they are ahead of their time) introduced it to the athletic world (including myself).  I am quite familiar with all the hoopla about Bob and his products.  I can tell the reader from my own personal  experiences for decades – the critics are full of baloney.  Back then I knew of some of the world renowned dog fighters (the reader would know the names) used to denigrate the Peak Performance, telling everyone it is hard on the dog’s digestion (it can be if fed incorrectly and in excess which many were prone to do), no good for canine athletic performance (making a long diatribe short).  My paradigm, as a journalist for our breed, has always been to listen – but keep my own teeth closed.  What those top dogmen didn’t know is that I also knew, on a first name basis, some of the breeders who were distributors of the products (Bob used to choose breeders with a large yard in different regions and sell the products to them at wholesale for them to market as distributors).  And I knew that those dogmen who had all those bad things to say, insisting the products did not work – purchased them by the case for themselves and used them on a big scale (I saw the invoices).  They just didn’t want others to have that edge.  All the sports nutrition products in the world are of absolutely no value if you don’t have something that is game and has ability to work with.  But – when you do – with two dogs of otherwise equality – they give an edge.  A very deciding edge.

That is my take.  that said, here is what is new today.Most of the readers know that I have never been a dog fighter and I don’t say that to satisfy some legal attorney.  It is gospel.  I found out the hard way back in the 1970s, when the sport was at best a fine lower than a speeding ticket, that to bring a dog in exactly on weight, ready to perform the most demanding sport on earth – that it involves a whole ball game beyond what those who are not real players realize.  But I knew how human martial artists train for battle and what it takes for maximal health and strength.  I did then and I do now.  Been involved/studying it for half a century now – fifty years.  I have always done my own experimentation – what I tried on my dogs I used myself.  I think you always have to upgrade.  Dogs upgrade and their training upgrades – I think the serious dogman must keep up with the latest in sports nutrition.  For those who want it, here is what is new today.  New in terms of engineering maximal muscle and endurance – and energy.  Energyis the operative word here Muscle adds weight  but my view is that if it is streamlined and it is not tight then it is protective.  Take the dogs stifle.  If the dog is a catch dog and a bad news boar hog repeatedly nails him in the stifle, it can sure hamper.  Muscle won’t prevent the damage done – but it sure will mitigate it.  The same is true in the human martial world.  I train and condition my legs so that while a trained Muay Thai can buckle me – it take more on me than most and few sports karate fighters can bother my legs.  I am saying muscle is not a panacea, but it protects.  I used to keep very lean.  Muscle uses Oxygen and large muscle is tight muscle.  That is why world class boxers are lean – and those who look impressive – like Evander Holyfield – lack endurance and cannot be effective finishers if the bout is prolonged.  That said, I am multi-trained – mixed martial if you will.  And grappling emulates what a catch dog does.  The catch dog is not boxing, he is grappling.  And son – that will drain any boxer – seen it happen for decades.  So I now train for protective muscle and power as well as endurance.  You need it all or you lose a defining margin (especially at my age!).  If someone gets me in an arm bar – a skinny fast but weak arm is detrimental.  When wresting around in a hot humid swamp with a boss hog – a pit had better have endurance or the hog will wear him down.  That has to be a given however.  In addition, the dog must have strength and power to prevail if the hog is a bad one.  The ability to continue when cut to pieces and losing fluids fast comes from more than aerobic endurance.  I am saying you have to consider the trade-off.  Muscle is dense and heavy.  Big muscle takes up oxygen much faster than lean muscle.  But the ideal is a balance so that you have protective powerful muscle with endurance.  I mean the catch dog had better have lasting endurance – and beyond though, because he ain’t running no marathon.  He is pushing around his own weight.  If the reader doesn’t think that drains energy much quicker than running a marathon or engaging in sprints, try this – put your own weight on a barbell and go for a hundred squats for say five minutes.  Set the barbell down and grab a heavy sandbag and wrestle around with it for another five minutes.  Then do some pushups with a weighted back pack – then do hill repeats with the weighted back pack – you get the picture.  Now – run for five minutes – or even sprint five minutes  or even engage hill repeats without the weight and not preceded by doing the squats.  Compare – you’ll see what pushing your own weight around does to your energy bank.  What if you had to do that for half an hour?  Longer?  I think every man who is involved in canine athletics should try that experiment.  Then the next time you are tempted to short cut, even just a little, your dogs preparation, you can see you are not justified in looking down on the dog who appears to lack game.  But I am serious – Really.  Try the squat, weighted pushups, weighted hill repeats program.  Do it until you are dizzy, your legs feel like rubber and your mind tries to tell you that you can’t do another rep.  Do another rep.  Keep going.  That will tell you more than a thousand X a thousand words.  Feel what you need to do for your dog, you’ll be a much better trainer for it.

Stay tuned for the specifics exposed in my next article..

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