Monday, April 4, 2011

Zink Day One Part One

Chris Zink

Day One

Dr. Zink started out the day discussing her opinions on spay & neutering (against neutering, might suggest spaying after the 3rd heat), animal rescue (more complicated than you may think), and conformation structure (which breeds towards extremes and extremes do not make for good movement). Her arguments were well researched, supported with scientific evidence, and clear diagrams. However, I won’t spend a lot of time talking about them instead focusing on what I thought was more interesting. (That is what happens when you do the writing, you get to make the executive level decisions).

Zink talked about the importance of health, mentioning the propensity for overweight dogs in America which puts significantly more strain on a dog’s body and overall health. She (obviously) supports training, conditioning, and feeding appropriately.

Chris briefly discussed the reason behind dog sports, which she believes mainly consists of the building and growth of a relationship. (I couldn’t agree more, but I think that kind of growth is found in any training assuming it is has a foundation of positive based communication).

Next up were the slides, more slides, followed by the furious note taking, and even more slides.

Let’s start out with structure. There are three primary body types, the ectomorph (such a Greyhound), a endomorph (Bull dog), and a mesomorph (Retreiver). Zink spent a good length of time discussing how moderate structures make for the best structure to have in most dog sports and her concern for American dogs, which seem to be leaning more and more to the extremes. Out of the three, the endomorph has the highest potential for injury, not that she suggests they don’t do sports but that they instead use common sense (I don’t think she said common sense, but again I get to paraphrase), thinking about the environment and impact of that environment. Avoiding high temperatures, mat covered concrete surfaces , and paying special attention to the dogs weight and condition.

For simplicity dogs can be classified by a height to weight ratio. A dog like Beckett who is tall, I would say 30 inches (but I can’t estimate for crap so who know what that number actually is) and a weight of 75lbs would have a ratio of 2.5. Dogs with a weight height ratio of 3.5 or higher will have a higher chance of injury (and as such should use more caution). She goes further to suggest that the jump height for many endomorphs is simply too high and should be lowered during training (and in competition, but she doesn’t make those rules).

From there we talked about angles and structure. In case you are puppy hunting; Zink suggests evaluating a puppy at 8wks (why get a puppy when you can get an already grown dog and a good night’s sleep?).

We started with rear structure; a dog like Beckett has a reasonably good amount of rear angulation. Whereas a dog like a German Shepard has even more rear angulation. We learned to distinguish rear leg angulation using the working dogs - though a picture and straight hock can give you a good idea (see attempted picture above). Imagine a line going straight up out of the perpendicular lower part of the leg, the closer to the back bone the less angulation a dog has. Some angulation is good, increasing the potential for propulsion but too much can effect stability. Additionally more angulation has a faster ground speed, but is harder on sharp turns, can contribute to less accurate sits, slower downs, and slower ups from a down.

Even more important in movement is front angulation. The front legs bear more of the pressure and weight, are only attached by soft tissue (as such more easily injured), and cannot be as easily conditioned as the rear legs. Zink’s ideal front leg angle is a 30 degree angle away from the vertical. Again we used the working dogs to get a feel of the front structure, I found when feeling the dogs for the front leg structure the hardest part was getting the head straight above the neck, if the dog was stretching for a treat or eating from a hand it was very easy (for me) to significantly misread the angulation. Once the head is straight above the neck use your thumb and index finger to locate the highest point in the shoulder blade. Straight shoulders are especially difficult for a dog, giving it more concussion on the bones, less muscle development, can cause malformation of the toes, but it does cause a dog to be more comfortable with it head held up high (like you always see on the dogs shows on TV). (In case your wondering Beckett has good amount of front angulation, but it is hard for me to see since his head isn't in the right spot).

More to come.

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