Preparing your dog to race
All whippets generally have the instinct to chase. At 5/6 weeks old pups will begin ragging toys / bedding / socks and this is encouraged by their breeders/owners. Owners will tie a toy or rag onto a piece of string to make this an enjoyable game for the pup.
At Kings Park a pup’s training will usually start as soon as they have finished their course of inoculations. Owners bring their pups to watch and familiarize them with everything that goes on at the track, different noises, people, dogs etc. It is also a great source of socialisation.
The majority of owners at the club are of the opinion that whippet pups should be allowed off lead to run as young as possible. They can strengthen their muscles and bones and learn how to use their legs, much better to be doing this now at a young age when they are slow enough to not hurt themselves whilst taking little nocks and rolls, than to be learning to do it when they can run at 40mph. If free running with other dogs, aggressive behaviour; neck grabbing, pushing and biting should be discouraged as this could then be deemed acceptible behaviour by the puppy on the track.
Playing with the lure
Pups will be given plenty of opportunity to have a play with the lure, aiming to get the pup as keen as possible before it has it's first chase, owners are also encouraged to make a fuss and praise their dog when it does show interest in the lure, rewarding this with food on the lure is great positive reinforcement,
Short Hand Slips
First hand slip behind the lure is maybe only 15yds, just to make sure the pup will chase, without going too far. Gradually over the course of the next six to 8 months the pup will have progressed and the distance increased to eventually be running the full distance, only if the pup is showing no signs of losing its legs will the distance continue to be increased.
Once the youngster can do the full 150yds without losing its legs it will be introduced to the traps, with the trap front open the pup will be walked through the traps a few times for desensitisation and again, we encourage owners to reward the dog with food or the lure. Providing the pup has no nerves or issues with the traps, it will then be slipped through an open trap a number of times behind the lure until the owner feels the dog is ready to move on to the next stage of being in the trap with the front closed.
Once again, providing the dog has mastered trapping and is still running well enough, it would then be introduced to the muzzle, nine times out of ten they don't usually bother by the muzzle being put on because by this point they are totally focused on the lure. Owners can and should work on muzzle training at home either by the lure method (luring the dog to eat from the muzzle and gradually build up duration - squeezy cheese is great for this) or by clicker training.
Running in company
After more trials with the muzzle on the dog would be ready to be tried in company. It's very important that the pup is schooled with dogs that are 100% honest. Our members favour running their pups against slower pedigree whippets so that the pup can pass nice and easy without being put under too much pressure, once the pup has done this with ease a few times the pedigree will get more of a start and once again, when the pup has proved it can pass cleanly without hesitation it will be tried with more company. The pup will be timed for each trial and when it's times improved with each run it will be stepped up and ran in company with a slower non pedigree this will be faster than the pedigrees it has been trialling against but will put the pup under more pressure to pass. Only once the youngster has successfully completed it's schooling trials and preferably run in the handicap, a schooling pass will be issued.
Providing the youngster is running without hesitation a variety of situations will be set up (running from different traps / with 3 or 4 other dogs of different speeds) and will eventually progress to running in the club handicap before being entered into open competition.
Whippets make brilliant pets and love being part of a family. Their endless stamina and fun character make them brilliant play mates for young children whilst racing gets the children involved in a physical activity and helps to teach them responsibility, compassion & patience. Children are a big part of our club and are always encouraged under supervision to get involved with their dog’s training, making it a fun experience for both dog and child.