Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canine Strength and Conditioning

I have signed up for a canine strength and conditioning class offered by Theresa Ziegler of Canine Rehab in Saskatoon, SK. The first class was tonight and I had a great time!

My goals are two-fold:
1) I'm hoping that some conditioning will help Romeo out on the agility course. He doesn't have much control on the contact equipment when they are raised to full height, part of that is surely just the fact that he is still learning, but I'm thinking that lack of muscle condition and control plays a role as well.
2) I'm using it as a workout class for myself. If I tell myself to go to a gym, I will never do it. But if I've signed up for a dog class I'll be there every week if possible! Even if that dog class involves a lot of running up and down hills.

We worked on a couple of exercises tonight, which I will briefly describe.
  • Warm-ups for humans and dogs. For humans, working on stretching out and warming up the legs, hips, and hamstrings. For dogs, reps of sit-down-sit and sit-stand-sit, stretches, figure 8's between your legs, and side bends.
  • Sprints. We place the dog in a sit-stay, quickly jog backwards a couple of feet, then call the dog enthusiastically to us, asking for a sit as soon as they get there. Then quickly run backwards again and repeat. This encourages the dog to fire off from a sit, working their back legs. (I only fell once! YAY me!)
  • Sprints up a hill (I knew this would be in there when she told us to meet at the top of Diefenbaker Hill! YIKES! I will take a camera next week so you all can truly appreciate the size and steep-ness of this hill!). Place the dog in a sit-stay at the bottom, run up to nearly the top, then call the dog to us. Run back down, place the dog in another sit-stay and repeat until your legs fall off.
  • Serpentine down the hill. Walking in long loopy back-and-forth lines across the face of the hill. The dog (and you!) are walking on a slope to the side, so it works different muscles than if you were going straight up and down the hill. End with a jog back up the hill and down again.
  • Crawling. Some people hold a couple of pool noodles at the dog's eye level while the handler goes to the opposite side and calls the dog underneath. Each rep sees the noodles lowered a little more towards the ground so that the dog has to crawl or crouch to get under them.
  • Wheelbarrow. Holding the dog under their belly, lift so that only their front feet are on the ground. Gently rock them back and forth and front and back so that they have to compensate and shift their weight on their front legs.
  • Balancing on one side. Supporting the dog between their legs and under their chest, lift so that the front and back foot of one side are off the ground. Rock the dog back and forth gently so they adjust their weight on the one side. Repeat on both sides.
  • Finally end with stretches for both humans and dogs.
It was a really good class full of really great people and dogs! I'm looking forward to next week's class. ... Of course, I may change my mind when I wake up tomorrow unable to move from the neck down.


I am editing this to add that Romeo is just a WEE bit tired after his workout.

He was lazily chewing on his rope/pompom thing (that used to be a leg off of Mr. Caterpillar) when it got away from him. He tried valiantly to will it back into his mouth, but the Sheltie Mind-Meld just wasn't strong enough, so he gave it up as a lost cause.

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