Cool Downs for Dog Sports

Cool Downs for Dog Sports (and other high intensity activities)

The goals of cooling down after exercise are to:

  • Allow for gradual recovery to pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure
  • Prevent blood pooling and any dizziness that can occur from abruptly stopping exercise
  • Bring contracted muscles back to their original length
  • Prevent muscular tightness/soreness and joint restrictions
  • Aid in recovery
The ideal duration for a cool down is approximately 5-10 minutes.
 
Please note that this is a generalized cool down.  For a more specific cool down routine tailored to your dog’s sport, strengths/weaknesses, and any other factors I highly recommend a customized program!
 

Proper Cool Down Components

A proper cool-down after dog sports/activity should include a gradual intensity decrease, with the following components:

  1. Light Cardio
  2. Stretches

Example Cool Down Routine

1. Light Cardio

After your dog’s activity, perform ~2-4 minutes of light cardio to gradually decrease your dog’s heart rate and breathing.
 
This may include transitioning from a light trot down to a slow sniffy walk.
 

2. Stretches

We want to stretch the muscles that the dog just worked during their sport, to bring the contracted muscles back to a more lengthened state.
 
My preference in most cases is for the dog to be the one in control of their movement, as is the case with Active Range of Motion Exercises.

Active Range of Motion (aROM) refers to flexibility exercises that are controlled by the individual themselves, without any external resistance.  

Passive Range of Motion (pROM) refers to flexibility exercises that are performed with the assistance of an external force, such as a person moving their dog’s limb within a possible range of movement. 

Passive Range of Motion exercises should only be done under the guidance of a rehabilitation or fitness professional.  I do not recommend these types of stretches for most dogs due to the risk of handler error and joint destabilization.

 
I typically recommend doing:
  • ~1-2 stretches for the front-end
  • ~1-2 stretches for the trunk
  • ~1 stretch for the hind-end “hip flexors”
  • ~1 stretch for the hind-end “hip extensors”

And doing about ~5 reps each.

Please note that there is overlap on muscles stretched with many AROM exercises.  

Stretches by Body Area

Front-End

Trunk

Hip Flexors

Hip Extensors

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