Exercises

Front Paws On

Front paws on an obstacle between the height of the dogs wrist and shoulder

Form:

  • Front paws under shoulders
  • Back flat; for the breed
  • Hock straight to the ground
  • Feet facing forward and symmetrical left to right

Benefits:

  • Increases body awareness
  • Shifts the dogs bodyweight backwards, strengthening the hindlimbs
  • If held for duration will activate the core and stabilizer muscles as well.

Back Paws On

Back paws on an obstacle approximately hock height

Form:

  • Head in neutral or down (not up!)
  • Front paws under shoulders
  • Back flat; for the breed
  • Hock straight to the ground
  • Feet facing forward and symmetrical left to right

Benefits:

  • Increases hindlimb awareness
  • Shifts the dogs bodyweight forward, strengthening the forelimbs
  • If held for duration will challenge the core and stabilizer muscles as well.

All Paws On

All 4 feet standing on 1 obstacle

Form:

  • Forelimbs and hindlimbs tight to the midline of the body (not splayed out to either side)
  • The more challenging the obstacle the more likely the dog will have their feet proximal underneath the body
  • Remember to spot your dog by staying at their side and always keep their safety a top priority!
  • Harnesses can be helpful for spotting and helping the dog on/off the obstacle.

Benefits:

  • Increases body awareness
  • Challenges the core and joint stabilizer muscles
  • Can be a fantastic confidence booster!

Plank

Front feet on 1 object, back feet on a separate 1 object

Form:

  • Front paws under shoulders
  • Back flat (for the breed)
  • Hock joint straight to the ground
  • Feet facing forward

Benefits:

  • Increases body awareness; distinguishes front & rear feet
  • Strengthens the core and joint stabilizer muscles isometrically while improving postural control
  • May increase hip flexor mobility and eccentric strength

 

Crawl

Crawling under an obstacle below shoulder height

Form:

  • Slow and controlled
  • Moving forward in a straight line
  • Forelimbs and hindlimbs tight to the midline of the body
  • Hips, knees, and hock joints (at least partially) flexed while going under the obstacle

Benefits:

  • Improves coordination as the dog simultaneously pulls with their forelimbs and pushes with their hindlimbs
  • The pulling of the forelimbs strengthens the latissimus dorsi in a similar motion to the human pull-up
  • The pushing of the hindlimbs works the flexor & extensor muscles of the hip, stifle, and hock joints; with concentric & eccentric muscle contractions
  • Fantastic for strengthening the entire body including the core musculature

Circle or Figure-8

Circle around an obstacle (both ways) or Figure-8 around ~2 obstacles!

Form:

  • Complete a circle around 1 object – Back flexes laterally in a “C” shape; and then switch directions to work both sides
  • Or figure-8 around ~2 objects – Back laterally flexes each way creating an “8” shape

Benefits:

  • Dynamically stretches the muscles along the spine
  • Increases awareness of limb placement
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Strengthens the muscles along the coronal plane, an often overlooked component of injury prevention

Back Up

Back up at least 5 steps without sitting down;
Optional: Back up between 2 obstacles (can encourage a straighter back up)

Form:

  • Slow and controlled
  • Back up in a straight line (not curved to one side)
  • Posture is upright; dog isn’t crawling backwards

Benefits:

  • Increases body awareness especially of the hindlimbs
  • Improves coordination
  • Strengthens the hip extensor muscles (hamstrings & gluteals)
  • Improves core stability
  • Working on straightening of the backup will improve muscular imbalances

Side Step

2 options (Pick 1):

* Pivoting – Front paws on an obstacle, dog pivots their hindlimbs around the obstacle a full 360 degrees each way

Form:

  • Front paws on an object
  • Slow and controlled
  • Back stays flat
  • Dog steps each hindlimb independently to the side to circle around the object

Benefits:

  • Increases body awareness especially of the hindlimbs
  • Strengthens the muscles of the inner and outer thighs (adductors & abductors)
  • Improves core and hip stability

 

* Lateral Walking – Dog walks sideways 5 steps each way;
optional: front/back/all paws on an obstacle

Form:

  • Feet facing forward and parallel ⁣⁣
  • Dog stays up on their front feet (not dropping down onto their “forearms”) ⁣⁣
  • Head in neutral⁣⁣
  • Back is flat (not rounded or arched)⁣⁣
  • Spine stays straight, minimal angle/torque; dog moving front & rear at similar pace⁣⁣
  • Right limbs & left limbs step to the right – 5x⁣⁣
  • Left limbs & right limbs step to the left – 5x⁣⁣
  • Slow and controlled⁣⁣

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the muscles along the transverse plane, an often overlooked component of injury prevention⁣⁣
  • Strengthens the muscles of the inner and outer forelimbs (chest and shoulders)⁣⁣
  • Strengthens the muscles of the inner and outer hindlimbs (adductors and abductors) ⁣⁣
  • Strengthens the “core” stabilizer muscles surrounding the trunk, spine, and pelvis⁣⁣
  • Improves body awareness and coordination⁣⁣
  • Very mentally stimulating while challenging the muscles in a unique way

Jump

Jump on or over an obstacle

Form:

Jumping form is harder for us to manipulate, but we want to pick an object that isn’t too high (lower than the dogs shoulder height) over/on a non slip surface. ⁣
The dog can jump over the obstacle, or onto the obstacle. ⁣⁣

Puppies <6 months old should not jump higher than wrist height;
Puppies <18 months old should not jump higher than elbow height.

Benefits:

  • Increases power (speed-strength)⁣⁣
  • Trains the muscles to move from extension to contraction in a rapid, explosive manner⁣⁣
  • Strengthens the entire body including the hip flexors & extensors, core, and forelimbs⁣⁣
  • Increases endurance⁣⁣
  • Increases metabolic rate⁣

Optional: Walk, Run, Bike, Swim, or Hike!

(Pick 1):

Complete this 10th bonus exercise and be entered to win a Sit Stay Squat hiking backpack!