Phase 4: Enhancing force production

Use 2-3 minutes for this phase – do a couple sharp, sport specific exercises

In the last phase, we start inching towards a more sport specific performance with our well-prepared dog – enhancing force production and lifting intensity all the way to a level equaling the actual sport performance.

In a perfect world you can do your force production-enhancing exercises on similar surface to the performance arena. Like this, your dog can figure out the surface “full out” even before the run, and to learn the requirements the surface sets for the dog’s motion.

The purpose of enhancing force production isn’t to tire or cause lactic acid buildup, so keep it short and sharp and save the peak condition for the actual run.


In agility, sport specific moves are spurts, jumps and quick brakes/turns. So enhancing force production can be for example

  • 2-4 spurts/accelerations with increasing intensity
  • Warm-up using warm-up jumps with increasing height
  • set point-exercises or wrap-wrap-spurt exercises

Obedience and SAR

In obedience, typical moves are spurts, sharp stops from movement and exchanging positions. Enhancing force production can be focused on these.

For a SAR -dog in the obecience part, retrieving the heavy objects places requirements on the musculature of the neck and jaw, so these muscle groups should also be considered during warm-up. You can for example ask your dog to lift dumbbells from the ground.


You can either send the dog forward to spurt (e.g. to a toy), by recalls, or by running yourself and asking the dog to come with you.

The spurt doesn’t need to be long – optimally, the dog is accelerating for almost the entire spurt and transfers to a maintainable speed for a couple strides at most. The greatest benefit from the point of view of enhancing force production is achieved during the acceleration. While doing spurts, try to have the dog start from an as good and straight starting position as possible, so it’s possible for it to deploy all it’s strength from the very first step. The first spurts can be a bit calmer, the last almost maximal speed.


When you add turns to the acceleration, you should start with sending the dog to the turn from a smaller distance and at a slower speed. This helps your dog’s body to do the sharp turn, the required collection/braking work and  have the required precision through the turn from the start.

Did you know that the dog’s legs work asymmetrically when running through a bend? When running a bend your dog’s inner legs are carrying more weight, and the outer legs are resisting the centripetal force and curving the body.

Add challenge to the bends by incrementally increasing the speed when entering and leaving the bend. Just like in straight spurts.

Set point -exercise

The set point exercise is a suitable part of warm-up for dogs familiar with jump technique practice.

This exercise helps the dog push up from the hindquarters especially – to do a more effective weight transfer. If set point isn’t already familiar to you, you should rather choose the other exercises presented to be part of your warm up routine. When used as warm up, the set point can be done with 3-5 repeats depending on the experience level of the dog: low – slightly higher – competition height – low, with a distance familiar to the dog.

The goal is a relaxed, balanced jump starting strong from the hindquarters, where the dog’s entire body finds an even jump arch.

When warming up for an agility competition, optimally the oxer jump height is always raised to competition height, if it can be done without the dog compensating (pulling of neck, stiffening of back etc.). Even if set point can’t be done technically perfectly at competition height, doing it on lower bars does help the dog by activating the hindquarters in preparation for the jumps.

Before the performance

After phase 4, let the dog walk/trot for 5-12 minutes.

Right before the performance (in the start stall/preparing) do a short neuromuscular activation (e.g. lifting diagonal legs, pushes), and on to the course!