I have been thinking a lot lately about “exercises progression”. In the human world, we know that we can’t go to the gym and do the same amount of repetitions with the same weight every time and improve over all strength and body composition. We know that number of repetitions and/or the amount of weight needs to increase to reach your strength or muscles definition goals. The same rules apply to our canine athletes.
There needs to be a progression to keep challenging a dog’s muscles. For instance, if you train your dog a folding down on the flat or on an aerobic bench, it teaches the dog to engage their core, hips and rear legs in the movement, which improves body awareness, strength and coordination. Where as if the dog sits then moves to a down, they are really relying only on their shoulders.
Now if you were to ask the same dog who now understands how to do a fold down to do it with front feet elevated on a phone book or low stool, then it helps shift more weight to the dogs rear and core muscle group.
Some scenarios might include:
Down to stand with front feet on a FitPAWS balance disc
Down to stand on a FitPAWS wobble board
Down to stand on a FitPAWS peanut
Down to stand while moving up or down a row of peanuts.
Down to stand with a board on two Canine Gym Fitbones
You get the idea.
Progression of exercises will help build muscle, coordination, balance and keep your dog mentally and physically challenged. When training new exercises or even old ones with your dog, be aware of what the progression of that exercise might be, have fun with it and make sure your dog is benefiting by focusing on body position.
It can be a challenge to design a conditioning program for sprint activities that will enhance performance, keep your dog’s chances of injury to a minimum and target the proper muscles groups.
What does Sprint mean: To move rapidly or at top speed for a brief period
Sprint athletes rely on anaerobic activities that build on the explosive muscles fibers used for rapid movement. Long distance runners rely on aerobic activities to maintain activity for long periods of time. These same theories apply to our canine athletes.
Just for clarification: Endurance is to exert and remain active for a long periods of time (such as sled dog, ski joring, running long distances)
K9 Sports that require sprinting are agility, flyball, lure coursing and treibball just to name a few. Sprint athletes require different conditioning programs than endurance athletes. It has been proven that improved strength and weight distribution will improve speed and accuracy in movement. Using the dog’s own body weight as resistance and designing a program using balance equipment and a dog treadmill can make a very comprehensive anaerobic conditioning plan. Using balance training to strengthen the core muscle group is important because a dog with a strong core will use less energy, have support for the spine and will move more efficiently.
Short bursts of very high intensity exercises using a DogTread treadmill is an effective way to target specific muscles groups and challenge your dog's muscles to improve strength. The video below gives you a quick idea of what can be done with a treadmill made for dogs.
Challenging your dog’s muscles with exercises using FitPAWS balance equipment will improve strength, body awareness and coordination. See photos above and do your research. Get guidance on exercises and body positions that best suit your dog and the sport you are involved in. Body position, duration and degree of challenge should be considered.
Keep in mind that human treadmills are not long enough for most dogs over 30 lbs. If purchasing a DogTread treadmill made for dogs consider your dog’s leg and stride length when ordering. I always recommend the longer tread length if there is any question about whether or not the tread is long enough. Make sure you are looking at the TREAD length or RUN SURFACE not the full length of the machine.
Bobbie Lyons, Cert CF
Bobbie Lyons, CCFT, KPA CPT