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Canine Cross Training: Building Balance, Strength and Endurance in Your Dog - Part 5 of a Series

For Health & Wellness Wednesdays, we feature the final section of an excerpt from the book, "Canine Cross Training: Building Balance, Strength and Endurance in Your Dog" by Sasha Foster, MSPT, CCRT.


Reprinted with the kind permission of Dogwise Publications. 

"Canine Cross Training: Building Balance, Strength and Endurance in Your Dog" by Sasha Foster, MSPT, CCRT - Chapter 3 - Balance (Part 1 continued)

Level One whole body awareness exercise

Ask the dog to place his front feet on a tilt board positioned so it shifts from right to left and reward. Using nose targeting, ask the dog to shift weight from side to side, and reward after each independent shift. Shift ten times. Repeat five times. Keep the dogs hocks parallel to the floor (not allowing the dog to put the rear feet close to the tilt board) to engage the core. Ensure good posture (straight back, eyes looking forward, and equal weight on the right and left paws).

Level One whole body awareness exercise.

Level Two whole body awareness exercise

Ask the dog to place his front feet on the wobble board and reward. Using nose targeting, ask the dog to shift his weight from side to side then front and back, rewarding after each independent shift. Shift ten times each side to side and front to back. Repeat five times. Keep the dogs hocks parallel to the floor (not allowing the dog to put the rear feet close to the tilt board) to engage the core. Ensure good posture (straight back, eyes looking forward, equal weight shift on the right and left paws).

Level Two whole body awareness exercise.

Level Three whole body awareness exercise

Ask the dog to place all of his feet on the tilt board positioned to shift from right to left and reward. Using nose targeting, ask the dog to shift from side to side and reward after each independent shift. Shift ten times side to side. Repeat five times. For Level Three and Four exercises, the dog will engage the core by rounding the back to get all his paws on the board. This active flexion, or rounding, of the lumbar spine or low back contracts the core stabilizing muscles creating a strong anchor for the limbs as they attempt to control the board. His eyes should gaze toward the floor to maintain a comfort¬able spine alignment. Weight shifting is dynamic and is not expected to be equal right to left until the dog understands the exercise at which time he should shift the board smoothly from right to left with good control.

Level Three whole body awareness exercise

Level Four whole body awareness exercise

Ask the dog to place all of his feet on the wobble board and reward. Using nose targeting, ask him to shift his weight in a circle touching all edges of the board to the floor. Initially use nose targeting to teach him to shift from side to side, front to back and reward after each independent shift. Work up to shifting ten times in a circle. Repeat five times. For Level Four exercises, the dog will engage the core by rounding the back to get all paws on the board. This active flexion, or rounding of the lumbar spine or low back, contracts the core stabilizing muscles creating a strong anchor for the limbs as they attempt to control the board. His eyes should gaze toward the floor to maintain a comfortable spine alignment. Weight shifting is dynamic and is not expected to be equal right to left until the dog understands the exercise.

Level Four whole body awareness exercise

Canine Cross Training Spotlight

Idgie completing Level Four exercises

At the end of her first twelve weeks of cross training, Idgie again completes the core stabilization and whole body awareness tests. This time she tests into Level Four for both exercises. She begins the new exercises on week thirteen. She will complete these exercises for twelve weeks, twice a week. The goal for core stabilization is to hold the exercise for fifteen seconds, five repetitions. When she initiates the exercises she is immediately able to hold each for ten seconds, an indication that her core strength has improved enough to hold the position and her nerve reactions are fast enough to calibrate movements. At the end of Level Four training, she will contact Canine Fitness Zone for Level Five elite level conditioning exercises.

Equipment Sizing

Large breeds should be able to use standard sized tilt and wobble boards.

Initially, it may be challenging to get all four paws on the board since they must have very strong abdominal muscles in order to do so. As they are learning the exercise, they may attempt to compensate as Breaker is doing here by grabbing the front of the board with his toes. By doing this, he is attempting to control the board with his paws. In time he will learn to place his feet flat on the board. Giant breed dogs may benefit from larger sized boards which can be special ordered at www.caninefitnesszone.com.

We hope this provides valuable information and you can visit www.dogwise.com to find out more about the book and use coupon code USDAA for 10% off. Enjoy!

Click here to read part onepart twopart three and part four of this series.

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