I like blogs that do columns, so I think I’ll put some exercises and tricks here that will help your dog get fit and conditioned for agility (as part of a wider conditioning program, regular walks and runs, etc). Obviously if your dog has any injuries or issues, consult with a vet or rehab specialist before doing any of these exercises.
Today’s exercise is:
3 Leg Standing (now with photos!)
This is a super easy exercise that really helps strengthen so many parts of your dog. Deep leg muscles, core stabilising muscles, back muscles, shoulder muscles. This was prescribed as part of Lu’s rehab for her iliopsoas and I do it with Loki as well to keep him nice and strong.
Time required: 5 minutes
Setup: Non-slip floor for beginners, then a peanut ball, some treats or peanut butter or something.
Get your dog standing nice and straight on the floor (or, eventually on the peanut). I usually have the bowl of treats directly in front of my dog so they’re looking forward. Lift one leg. Hold it up for a minute (or start with whatever they can do – 30 seconds or so). Place it down. Lift the next leg, hold it up. Repeat for each leg. Easy!
Tips: You want your dog to not be leaning on you like a crutch. You might find they will put a lot of weight in your hand at first but as they get stronger they will rely on you less and less. You should feel them twitching as they adjust and shift their weight in tiny little ways.
If your dog becomes un-straight or is standing weird, I tend to make my dog either sit or drop, then stand up again from that position.
Some dogs who are used to shaping or clicker training may find this hard at first as they want to offer behaviours. A friend of mine places her hand on her dog’s chest and she seems to know that this means ‘stay still’ – with Lu, I gently rub her tummy. This also helps stop her from sitting or laying down before the time is up.
In order to make the exercise more difficult, once the dog can do it easily on the floor for a minute, move to a peanut pushed up against a couch or chairs to stop it moving. Then have the peanut be more ‘free’ but still supported with your hand to help keep it still. You can see I’m just resting my knee on it in these photos.
I don’t use a traditional human ‘swiss ball’ as it makes them roach their back too much. This peanut I bought from a yoga store near the city so you don’t have to specifically get dog-made equipment.