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For the Beginner

The schooling or training of a racing whippet is not as complicated as it may seem and should be made fun for both the owner and there pet. The following details shows the most asked questions and the most common reply.

Firstly owners will need to understand each dog is individual, however the basics are the same for nearly all racing animals.

Q: What age can we begin the training.

Training is instinctive in the racing whippet and will only need to be encouraged to the surface. Therefore the training can start almost as soon as you get your puppy. House training is important. Play time can be your first step to the training of a running dog. The simple act of playing with your puppy offering soft toys or pieces of imitation fur will be sufficient to get your puppy to rag (the term used when a puppy plays tugs and pull with the owner). It is important to complete the tug and pull game as often as possible in the early stages. praise the puppy during these session's and reward with a treat when the puppy responds well.

Q: Is there any training to be completed during the first 12 weeks.

Your puppy will need to be inoculated before you take him/her to the track. The early weeks are vital in a number of area's.

Lets break these down into stages up to the time when you are going to take your pup to the track for the first time. Inoculations will need to be looked at as early as eight weeks old book your pup at your local vets as soon as you obtain your puppy. You would normally collect your pup at six to eight weeks old from the breeder.

He or she should have wormed the puppy at least twice prior to collection. Important at the time of collection to establish when the next worming is required and just as important to ask what food your puppy is used to and stick to this brand during the first 2 months after taking your puppy home.

This is a time of change and can be stressful for any young pup. The nearer that you can keep to the breeders routine the less stress you will place upon your puppy. This will assist the puppy to settle in quicker.

Expect a few sleepless nights to start with and soon there after bring the puppy into a routine that suits your household. The puppy will adjust to most environments, but do any changes slowly.

Training as you are unable to exercise the puppy in areas were he/she will come into contact with other dogs during the inoculation stages, use this time in other ways for instance leader training can be completed in the home or in the garden introduce this slowly and make it a game.

Do not push your puppy during these sessions and use the treat reward system to get your puppy to respond quicker. Lets assume your puppy has had its first inoculation at eight weeks. House training is now becoming a thing of the past and your puppy is showing interest in the tug and pull game. The next stage is a trip in the car. This is best completed with a dog cage in the back of the car also take another member of the family with you to talk to and reassure the puppy it is safe. Travel sickness will not happen on all occasions, but there has been many a fine racing dog lost its race due to this.

Travel training at an early stage is a must. Never leave you puppy in the car unsupervised at any stage of training. Finally your puppy needs to socialise to gain confidence meeting people and children in your home or local friends calling in this is a very good exercise and builds confidence. Do this as often as time will allow.

The puppy is now 12 weeks old and has been cleared by your vet to come into contact with other dogs.

Q: My first visit to the local track is there anything we should know.

Safety first if you have followed the above guidelines your first experience at your local track should be a pleasant one for you and your puppy. however you and the officials at the event will be nervous for both your safety and that of your puppy..

You must ensure that your puppy is on a secure lead as he or she will become excited during the racing and this may become dislodge (dogs hitting each other at speed can be fatal). The safety of spectators is also important stand away from the finish area as older dogs can run around after there race is finished. Use your common sense.

Do not expect to much from the puppy during the first few visits to the track. go and watch let your puppy see all areas and then come away, he or she will not take an active part for many weeks to come. Your early training of the tug and pull game will begin to become more clearer to the puppy after the first few visits to the track.

The puppy should be encouraged to go for the drag lure, with out him or her being off the lead. A little tease after racing is enough, not forgetting to praise and reward on each occasion.

Your puppy is now 16 weeks old .

Q: What are the next stages.

At the 12- 16 week stage you will now have to start what is know as free running all the previous stages are vital and this stage is one of the most important area's of development. Free running is exactly what it says you allow your puppy free access to safe open places to romp about learning to use and develop the young muscles, that will later help him or her win races. At this age muscles and bones are not developed and must not be put under stress, let the pup run and frolic at will. Do not get him or her to chase anything during these early sessions. Should you see any other dog or person appear in the area return your puppy to the safety of your lead immediately.

Tip when you require the puppy to come back to you always offer a treat. He or she will come to heel every time. Provided you keep this practise up on each and every occasion.

At the 20- 26 week stage. Your puppy by now should have got his or legs as it is called and you have teased the puppy with the tug and pull game since 8 weeks old. Including at the end of each race meeting. At this stage he or she should be keen to want the lure as during the weeks of watching. The puppy has become more actively interested to run with the other dogs.

Today is the first test you will now need to hand slip the puppy for no more that 30 to 50 yards to see if he or she will chase. It is also best to have another member of the family or a friend to slip the pup on your behalf and you walk the 50 yards up the track that you would like the puppy to run. Again repeat the tug and pull game praise treat and reward. This needs to be continued for 4 weeks, each week extending the distance the puppy covers back towards the trap area. In the same period of time you will need to introduce your puppy to the traps.

Do not rush this task hand slip him or her through open traps first until he or she becomes familiar with this no need for the lure during the first few lessons. Call the puppy to you once again no more than 30-50 yards then praise treat and reward complete this task no more than twice during any one meeting.

Finally the dreaded muzzle in the interest of safety all dogs during racing must wear a correctly fitted muzzle. If you have followed the training to the letter your puppy's last task is to be fitted with the correct size muzzle for both safety and comfort. There are many types around and advice will be given by track officials as to the correct fit and were to purchase. Some dogs take to the wearing of this piece of kit like a duck to water ,others are not so easy to accept.

Q: Is my dog ready to race.

In principle your puppy is now between 30-38 weeks old assuming all training has been covered then you will need to prove to other members of the club that your dog is safe to run in race's. This is governed by a series of trials against other dogs with in the club usually about three trials is sufficient to prove that your dog is safe to compete with others. Take advice from a club official on which dogs would not prove to fast for your puppy as once again to the puppy this is just a game and you want him or her to compete, but not be out classed. At the end of each trial remove the muzzle and allow the puppy time to tug and pull the lure, praise and treat system again.( The older dog to be placed back on the lead first)

Q: Can I now enter my puppy in races

There is no hard and fast rule to adopt at this point, lets assume you have completed all the above stages and your puppy is at the 9- 10 month stage. Then yes your puppy is now ready to race. There will always be good advice offered along the way by well meaning club members, it is from this information that you will be getting good feed back on how your puppy in progressing.

 Do not worry if things take a little longer it will not harm.


How to Train a Racing Whippet.