Monday, August 20, 2012

Early Training: Secret To Our Success

Many Olympic athletes start training at a remarkably young age to develop the skills, conditioning, and mental fortitude necessary to compete at the highest levels. Studies have shown that early neurological stimulation from the age of 3 days though 16 days has important lasting effects on the performance of dogs and other mammals.  We use a program called "Bio Sensor" (also known as the "Super Dog" program), which was developed by the U.S. Military to improve the performance of working dogs. Over-stimulation and stress can have detrimental effects on young animals, but these gentle exercises, which do not occur naturally in the early period of life, are thought to "jump-start" the neurological system earlier than would normally be expected, resulting in increased brain capacity that will improve the dog's ability to cope with problems and stressful situations down the road.  

From Dr. Camen Battaglia's article Breeding Better Dogs:

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated littermates, over which they were dominant in competitive situations. In simple problem-solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress sound when stressed.  

Benefits of Stimulation:
Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the exercises:

1. Improved cardiovascular performance 
2. Stronger heart beats,
3. Stronger adrenal glands,
4. More tolerance to stress
5. Greater resistance to disease.

The Young "Olympians" are pleased to demonstrate the five exercises, each of which lasts for only 3-5 seconds and is designed to stimulate the neurological system:

1. Tactile stimulation - The handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot for 3 - 5 seconds:

While Gabby greatly admires her fellow Olympian, she is nonetheless glad that she does not wear a size 13 shoe (like Missy Franklin).

2.  Head held erect - The pup is held perpendicular to the ground with its head is directly above its tail.

Bolt is not easily impressed...
"The view from up here cannot compare with the view from the London Eye."

3. Head pointed down - The pup is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground.

High altitude training is a regular part of the Olympian conditioning regimen. 

4. Supine position -Pup is held with its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling.

(Alex) Morgan Tweets:  "My secret to success?:  I sleep 18 hours and drink LOTS of milk every day!"

Sleeping anyplace, anytime, at a moment's notice is a useful skill to master.

5.  Thermal stimulation—use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes.  Place the pup on the towel, feet down.  

While the athletes do not expect cold weather extremes in Rio, Maggie (Steffens) prudently prepares for all possible weather scenarios. 

In general, however, life is pretty relaxing for the young athletes here in the Olympic Village. Typical daily regimen:  Wake up, eat, poop, sleep, nap, look for mom, eat...etc.

While they are still working on fine-tuning their teamwork skills, the Olympians work it out so that there is room for all at the milk bar!


  1. Looks like a fun workout for the trainer, too.

  2. "Keep up the fine work, kids! You are on your way to Olympic glory. We are all very proud of you."

    Your dad,