If you have ever taken a class from me you KNOW how I feel about warming up and cooling down your dog before and after activity. This is one of the easiest steps you can take to help reduce injury in your agility dogs.
There are NOT always convenient environments for warm ups and cool downs. I have students all over the world and some do not have inside training facilities that have room for you to warm up your dog. Time is a factor as well. Some would say they don’t have enough time. So what do you do?
The answer is the VERY BEST you can. In the absence of space or even time, think about movements you can do to warm up your dog’s major joints: hips, shoulders, and the spine which includes the neck and tail. We all get caught off guard and have to run to the start line now and again, it happens. In these cases you still need a fast warm up such as down to stands, turn circles in each direction or weave through your legs, lateral movements and backing up. These are things you can do in a small space while waiting your turn. After your run take special care in cooling your dog down. I generally recommend using your warm up routine in reverse.
Warm does not mean temperature per say, but think more in terms of movement of the joints. I hear a lot about these jackets people buy to keep their dogs warm. Let me be clear. There is nothing that is a substitute for movement. If I was cold and wrapped up in a blanket curled up on the couch, I would not drop the blanket and sprint, turn, stop suddenly, bend etc I do believe these jackets have amazing benefits in very cold conditions to keep your dog “warm” between runs and aid in muscle recovery, but they are not a substitute for moving all major joints through range of motion prior to activity.
The recommendation is to spend 5-10 minutes warming up your dog and 5-10 minutes cooling down your dog. Developing a routine that you and your dog can do before each run can only increase your dog’s connection to you, improve speed and accuracy in movement as well as decrease the chance of injury.
Also be aware that it is important to warm up your dog's joints before tossing a ball or frisbee, before hiking, swimming, endurance trot work or before any activity or performance sport.
Do you warm up your dog before activity???
Bobbie Lyons, Cert CF
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Bobbie Lyons, CCFT, KPA CPT