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Tips On How To Train Your Dog Correctly

Below-the-knee amputee Fields runs for berth in 2012 Paralympics 090721
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PHOTO CAPTION: Sgt. Jerrod Fields of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program does squats on his prosthetic lower left leg during a weight-training workout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
(Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs)

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Below-the-knee amputee Fields runs for berth in 2012 Paralympics 090721

By Tim Hipps
FMWRC Public Affairs

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Sgt. Jerrod Fields capped his track and field season by winning a gold medal at the 2009 Endeavor Games and setting his sights on the 2012 Paralympics.

Fields, a below-the-knee amputee sprinter in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, won the 100 meters with a time of 12.15 seconds June 13 in Edmond, Okla., site of the Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities.

Earlier this spring, he finished second against an able-bodied field of collegiate sprinters with a 12.0 clocking in the 100 meters at the Occidental Invitational in Los Angeles.

Fields’ coach, Al Joyner, believes his sprinter will flirt with world records on the road to London for the 2012 Parlympics.

“I think he’s a potential world record-holder,” Joyner said in early February. “I would put my money on him in both the 100 and 200.”

There’s little reason to doubt Joyner, an Olympic gold medalist and Jim Thorpe Award winner who helped his late wife, Florence Griffith-Joyner, and sister, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, sprint and jump for Olympic gold during their illustrious careers.

Joyner, Team USA’s sprint and jump high performance coach, began working with Fields last November at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

“In terms of track and field, he’s just a baby,” Joyner said. “He’s just now starting to learn techniques. He may be that one athlete that ends up changing the barrier as far as how people look at things.”

Joyner became the first American in 80 years to win an Olympic gold medal in the triple jump at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. He and Jackie were the first brother-sister duo to strike Olympic gold in the same event. And he coached 100 and 200-meter women’s world record-holder Flo-Jo to five Olympic medals.

“In my family, we have a total of 12 Olympic medals,” Joyner said. “And I have been coaching for the past 27 years.”

Among Joyner’s current crop of athletes, Fields received a special nod of approval.

“If I had to pick a most-improved athlete, he would get the award,” Joyner said. “He’s getting better and better by the second, so it’s going to be really great to see over these next three or four years as we get ready for London. He’s going to surprise a lot of people.

“He really has improved in leaps and bounds with his mechanics. If somebody came out and watched him run from afar, they could not see that he had a prosthetic leg. But if you saw him the year before, he was falling all over the place. It’s really like night and day.”

Fields is chasing the world marks of 11.3 seconds for 100 meters and 22.48 for the 200.

“I’m almost there,” he said. “This is my second season and my first real year of training. Everybody else that I’m competing against either was born without a femur or foot or something. I’m just coming on brand new. I’ll catch them by London Games. I’ll be ready.”

Fields, 27, who played football, basketball and baseball for Carver High School in Chicago, encountered an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq, in March of 2005.

“I was out on a routine reconnaissance with my platoon and we got a tip that there were explosives inside of a dog,” he said. “At that time, they were cutting dogs and cattle open and placing explosives in them. We got the call for the mission to go out and to handle the situation. We saw the dog and kept our distance to see what the situation was. We didn’t want to get too close to it, but it turned out that was a decoy.

“We got the call to return home. I was the trail vehicle in the convoy. As we turned around, I became the lead vehicle, and that’s when an IED went off underneath it. The first IED took the floor plate of my Bradley out. The second one got me in the leg. It took from the calf muscle all the way down to the heel of my foot – the Achilles tendon and muscles. I was able to continue the mission. I didn’t feel it really at first. I just felt a lot of fire.

“To be honest, when I first looked down to see what happened, I laughed, because I thought I had dropped a grenade. I was thinking to myself: ‘Man, these guys are never going to believe what I’ve done.’ I finally heard over the net that it was an IED and that I had been hit. When I looked at my leg, I saw that it was mangled.”

Fields returned to the States and reported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on March 1. After six rounds of surgery and six days of miring his most difficult decision, Fields requested amputation below his left knee.

“It would have taken 22 surgeries, and they were going to fuse my ankle,” he said. “I would not have been able to play basketball anymore.”

Fields resumed walking on April 2. By mid-June, he was playing basketball in a Chicago summer league.

“I never got down or angry about this injury,” said Fields, who since has graced the cover of “ESPN The Magazine” for his “streetball” prowess. “I just felt that it was a new step or direction that I had to go in. I try to go back (to Walter Reed) as often as I can to mentor some of the others.”

Fields said he never considered leaving the military, as long as it would have him.

“I saw more support by staying in the Army,” said Fields, who suffered the injury at age 22. “That’s when President Bush signed a bill for us to stay on active duty pending a PT test to see that we were fit for duty and could return. That was my intention. Then this program came along.”

Fields received a call from John Register, a former member of WCAP and a Paralympian in both swimming and track and field who now serves as director of community and military programs for U.S. Paralympics.

“He told me the Army had something for me if I wanted to continue active duty and also become an athlete,” Fields recalled. “He faxed me all the paperwork. I got in contact with WCAP, they looked into it, and we went from there. Now, I think I can retire from active duty and come back as a coach to work with some younger Soldier-athletes coming up.

“I was a career Soldier the day I signed up.”

Fields suggests that wounded warriors get active as soon as physically possible.

“I would say to get out here and face those fears, if any, and have fun,” he said. “This beats sitting in a house and being depressed, or being off your leg or your arm, or thinking how people might view you because of your disability.

“Just get out and have fun.”

Fields is still learning to run on the prosthetic.

“When next season rolls around, I’m going to be ready to roll,” he said. “I am more focused and I’m finally able to put my workouts together – transferring the benefits from the weight room to the track. I just feel more confident in what I’m doing. The prosthetic is starting to be a part of me. I’m still learning how to get full usage of it, and it’s showing on the track.”

And on the field, where Fields recently began dabbling with the long jump.

“I’m going to let the event find him,” Joyner said. “He’s going to run the 400 to keep his strength. Getting ready for the Olympics, it’s mental, so I’m going to attack his body to let him know that he can do anything he wants as long as he puts his mind to it. I look at him as a dedicated athlete, and he just keeps raising the bar. My job is to get him competing against himself.”

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If you are completely lost on where to begin training your dog, you need not worry for you have already taken the first and most important step, which is looking for information or you would not be reading this. The following article has the information you’ve been looking for.

When training your dog, make it fun for the both of you. Taking time to play creates a strong bond between the two of you, and your dog will be more likely to respond well to training. Training can be enjoyable, but you should still make time just to play with your pet.

Most dogs are eager to please and respond better to rewards than punishment. Repetition and reward are the best ways to train a dog. However, you should limit your training sessions to a certain time frame otherwise you may both become frustrated. This is, if not the only, certainly the best method for effective dog training. Teach your dog what to do using rewards and repetition.

Never try to train a dog while you’re short on patience. If you’ve had a bad day or are unusually short-tempered for some other reason today, it’s better to put off training until another day. If you are impatient, your dog will become anxious and be unable to focus on learning.

A bad day at work or fight with someone else should never result in you “kicking the dog” when you come home angry. The point here is that you should only reprimand your dog if he did something wrong a few seconds ago. Otherwise, keep things upbeat.

When housebreaking your puppy, accidents will happen. It’s important to immediately clean up the accident to make your training more effective. The smell from a pet’s feces or urine can stay in the carpet. The puppy may return to that spot if it isn’t cleaned quickly. There are a variety of products that will help you remove the odor; check with the local pet store or department store.

Be consistent with your dog training to make sure your animal stays obedient to the rules it has been learning. It is easy to feel that once your dog’s training is over, the lessons are learned and will stay with the dog forever. Don’t allow your dog to get out of the habit of good behavior. You must remain strict with your dog.

As you are working to house train your pet, select a single term or phrase that you will use. For example, you could use the phrase, “go potty” when you take them outside to help them remember what to do when you go outside and say the command.

When you are trying to break your dog from chewing, do it the right way. In addition, keep the household objects that could be dangerous away from your pet. Items such as nylons, hairbrushes, as well as other common chewable, yet dangerous household items, can be a danger for your dog. He can choke easily, so watch out for them.

While training your dog, it pays to use irresistible treats as rewards. Consider using human food for these treats, even if you don’t normally allow your dog to eat such food.

A dog will obsess about one thing until you divert its attention. If you do it enough times, your dog will wait for your signals instead of focusing on other things.

Big dogs will need a large bed or sleeping area. You can give your dog a bed that is sized appropriately, or consider an unconventional bed for your dog, such as a crib mattress. This has its advantages. The most apparent being that you can easily change the fitted sheets on it. Crib mattresses come with the added benefit of being waterproof.

Since you are educated now, you can start training your dog or help other dog owners like you. Remember, training is a daily process; start out small and build from there.

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