Do you warm your dog up?
Some people may now be thinking. I never warm my dog up, nothing has ever happened. Or, I walk my dog to the ring.
During an agility run dogs perform many different movements to negotiate a course. A big majority of the time these are performed at high speeds. If the dogs muscles, tendons and joints are not conditioned properly to the demand that they are asked to meet (not warmed up properly) before competition and training you are exposing your dog to the risk of injury. We all probably know someone who has a dog that has pulled a muscle and just how long it can take to get back to full fitness. Therefore why do people still not warm their own dogs up?
I asked this question to a number of people, people from all grades. The most common answer was “I forget”. Ok, you may forget. So why not set yourself a routine?
Our dogs use all of their muscles to turn, jump, weave and run. Our dogs are effectively athletes! Do you ever see an athlete not warming up before they race?
An athlete warms up to prepare the muscles and joints for what is about to come. They are ‘warming them up’ by moving and stretching the muscles and joints, increasing the blood flow to the muscles. In a warm muscle the nerve impulses travel faster and the body reacts quicker also the muscles glide against each other better, which makes them move quicker and more precise. A warm muscle is less prone to sprains and ruptures than a cold one. We are getting the dogs mind and body in tune to cope with the physical and mental demand.
As the dog becomes older the muscles, tendons and ligaments may become stronger, shorter (if not warmed up) and more rigid. This means that they will be more prone to injuries, if they are worked hard and not warmed up. Therefore, the older the dog the more important the warm up is. It doesn’t take long so why don’t people do it? How long do you normally stand in a queue? 10 minutes +
The first section of a warm-up should aim to increase the physical and metabolic rates in the body. This means we should be looking to increase the heart rate and breathing. The muscles will be cold so we need to warm them up, get them working and warming up gradually.
This is my warm up routine.
- Walk- gentle trotting pace. Roughly 2- 3 minutes
- I then do some heelwork, to get my dogs focused on me. Roughly 1 minute
The second section of the warm-up is stretching.
Muscles, connective tissue, tendons and the ligaments of the joints all need to be stretched.. The stretching exercises the muscles tendons and ligaments to reach their maximum length which means that the muscles and joints will be flexible. The flexible muscles and ligaments enable the dog to spin, jump and turn quickly, smoothly and accurately without the risk of spraining or tearing the muscles, tendons or ligaments by sudden twisting or stretching. I begin this section by laying my dog on his side and rubbing all over his body, mainly focusing on the neck, ribs,front and back legs. I continue rubbing until I feel my dogs body warming up, this helps get the blood flowing round the muscles. I then make sure i stretch my dog, below are some of the stretches i do with my dogs.
It's importnt to note that I don't apply lots of pressure when extending my dogs legs, if my dogs were to twich i would try once more, carefully. If they still do not want to extend the leg i would then contact Christine, McTimoney treatments.
I will then do some left and right turns, leg weaves, heal work, send arounds. I will look for movements that will be needed within the run.
People stand queuing for 10 minutes, people always moan about queue lengths. Queuing is never going to change. Why not use the queuing time to do something that is beneficial to the dog?