Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The warm up.

Warming up
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.

  1. Walk- gentle trotting pace. Roughly 2- 3 minutes
  2. 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?

Friday, 4 March 2011

MOT time - Getting the dogs checked.

Getting my dogs checked.

Dogs tend to act first and think later, especially when working in a sport they love. A dog will generally give you their all, whether they are suffering any pain or discomfort. Sometimes when your dog is suffering any sort of musculoskeletal pain you may notice that it cries out or perhaps doesn't work or move as well as it normally does. However, you may not notice that there is any obvious problem, so it is a good idea to have your dog checked over every so often just to ensure that your dog is functioning to 100% of its potential. I have my dogs checked over by Christine East a McTimoney Animal Practitioner.

I make sure that I get my dogs checked at least four times a year, even if I think there is nothing wrong. I know personally how uncomfortable it is when something is just out of place, having a leg a little bit shorter then the other means that my muscles can sometimes over compensate and become really tight. If they become tight and out of position it causes pain, when the muscle is extended.  My dogs are athletes. I feel it is my job to make sure they are sound before training and competing.

Why McTimoney

McTimoney is a type of chiropractic that uses low force and high speed adjustments. This means that the adjustments are very gentle and usually don't cause any discomfort, making them highly suitable for dogs.

A McTimoney Practitioner will assess your dog's skeleton to check for symmetry and will also check its muscles for tension, soreness and asymmetry. All practitioners work differently, they should always work on the muscles to remove tension and then mobilise joints to free up the whole body to make them move more easily. This is why I prefer Mc Timoney as they relax and warm the muscles before the main treatment. I don’t want my dogs experiencing any pain. They then use McTimoney to realign any bones in the skeleton that are out of position. My dogs love the massage first it helps them relax. I know Ben especially loves her treatment as he greets Christine and the door and then runs to the room and stands on the rug (where Christine treats him). I know be would not freely go to a place he didn’t want to be.

The dogs can be a bit sleepy for the rest of the day, although the treatments have never affected my dogs. You should keep the dog quiet to ensure that the treatment has maximum benefit. I give my dogs a lazy day. No walk just rest. Then introduce a smaller walk the next day, nothing too intense for 48 hours after the treatment. Then it’s back to the normal exercise and training.

 I know that my dogs bodies are in full working order and that they have nothing out of place.

Christine East is highly recommended by many people doing Agility, Obedience and Flyball. She is based in the Lincoln area but does travel. For more information contact Christine on christine.east@btinternet.com