At the moment there is a great enthusiasm with Canine Conditioning Programs. Conditioning programs should not be initiated lightly. A dog’s body must be healthy enough to handle the stresses of the exercises. Improper use of equipment such as fit discs and peanuts can place a dog at risk of injury while ONLY targeting strength and balance.
Safe implementation of balance exercises requires healthy ears, eyes and nerves. Initiation of strength exercises demands healthy joints, ligaments and muscles. Endurance exercises need a healthy heart and lungs. What about flexibility?
Optimally, a therapist should be consulted to complete a conditioning evaluation to assess joint and joint capsule integrity, muscle extensibility, posture/muscle balance, strength baseline and baseline endurance. A health assessment will provide important pieces of information to help determine which exercises are most advantageous for the dog and which exercises should not be initiated, particularly if a dog has a history of movement issues such as knocking bars in agility, running around jumps in flyball or reluctance to perform in obedience.
In addition to this Cross Fit Training and stretching go hand in hand. There is proven research that strength and flexibility with reduce reoccurring injury than just one of the activities alone.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of people train their dogs to go in a straight line even though their dog sports require a large portion of lateral motion (side to side movement). Let’s look at a few scenarios in an agility dog:
- Late handler calls causing dogs to completely change a committed movement where muscles overstretch
- Take off over a jump and then wraps around the jump requires core and trunk strength as well as lateral strength of the front leg joints.
And a flyball dog:
- Box turns missing the ball causing the dog to change direction immediately causing lateral neck trunk movement as well as lateral strength of all legs joints.
- Blow with another dog which requires complete change in committed direction.
Obedience performance dogs after as little as 3 hours per week will lengthen their left side of the body and shorten the right side of their body with heal work.
All these scenarios require use of muscles that support lateral movement. This is the most under recognised muscle function needed in most performance sports today. Iliopsoas, shoulder and knee issues with weak cores causes tight backs.
Dogs rely on large muscle groups and don’t engage the smaller muscles that help support joints and assist in powerful movement. When a dog relies mostly on large muscles groups it causes muscle imbalance that lends to compensations, weakness and eventually to injury.
Canine cross-fit training helps achieve complete health and wellness at any age of a dogs’ life. Canine Balance programs are effective, safe and stimulating through positive reinforcement with equipment you have lying around the house. Young dogs will improve body awareness, canine athletes will increase competitiveness and old dogs will maintain mobility.
For a Cross Fit Training Assessment and Program, mention this article to receive a 30% discount with Canine Balance. Call 0422 597 866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.