Exercise Tips and Tricks for a Strong Core
Sometimes we want to teach our show dogs something flashy besides running down the ring, but what if that could do more harm? We want to keep their bodies strong not only because of looks, but in confirmation standing for long periods can be really taxing on your dog’s body and having a strong core is essential for good posture. The core is the powerhouse and it’s important to keep it strong to stand in the correct stance while stacked for long periods of time.
A common trick we like to teach our dogs because it’s cute and flashy is “sit pretty”, but it’s quite a controversial exercise as it puts a lot of pressure on their spine and risks the chance of them tipping over while balancing in that pose. Most people think that holding the pose is working their abdominal muscles, but it’s actually the lifting up into the pose that begins to contract the abs. Certain breeds are more prone to injuries while in this pose like any of our long back breeds like corgis, basset hounds, great danes, etc. so it’s best to avoid this exercise even though it’s a very cute trick.
With that being said there are better exercises to choose from that will engage the core muscles more and in safer positions, plus most show people don’t want their dogs to be sitting much anyway, right? Learning how to stack your dog is essential to performance. We want their feet in the correct positioning and in order to maintain the positioning your dog needs to have a strong core and quads that aren’t too tight for proper posture. If the muscles are too tight or the core is too weak they will not be able to lengthen and maintain their stance for long. A great core exercise for dogs are planks.
Planks are having your dog stacked on a raised piece of equipment. Using stability pieces of equipment (equipment filled with air like balance disc, propels, paw pods, peanut, etc) will test your dog’s core strength effectively and efficiently with less risk of injuries. Note that height = might, the taller the piece of equipment is more advanced and room for more injuries from getting on and off. Simply ask your dog to work on standing on the equipment and complete a few reps for about a minute. Once they are confident you can start adding progressions like looking side to side and up and down while staying in their plank positioning. These little simple directional movements will shift their weight and they will have to stabilize to maintain their positioning. It’s harder than it looks! Go slow with these movements and be intentional with your hand placement and speed.
A well conditioned dog in the ring has an exercise routine out of the ring. To be able to naturally get in the correct stance and hold is what we’re looking for as well as a nice gait, not showing any signs of discomfort. If your dog is showing signs of not being able to hold the stance or their gait is off it could be a sign of muscle tightness, lack of exercise, too much exercise or something else going on and you’ll want to find out the cause of it pronto. Having a well-rounded team of professionals like a canine masseuse, chiropractor and personal trainer can be essential to their performance. So let’s forget about those tricks in October and head into November with a little Planksgiving challenge, practice those plank weight shifts all month long for a few minutes a day! Share your before and after photos with us @fitnesswithfido.fit on Facebook and please feel free to reach out for help!
By Kimberly Flatley