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Canine Cross Training: Building Balance, Strength and Endurance in Your Dog - Part 3 of a Series

For Health & Wellness Wednesdays, we continue featuring 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)

Canine Cross Training Spotlight

Idgie takes the balance test for core stabilization.

In the photo above, Idgie is taking the balance tests for core stabilization and whole body awareness. She tests into core stabilization Level Three exercises and whole body awareness Level Four exercises. Because all exercises require a strong core, she will begin all exercises with whole body awareness and strength exercises (see Chapter 4), at the core stabilization Level Three or lower.

She will complete these exercises for twelve weeks, twice a week. If she is competing in agility trials consecutive weekends she will follow the Canine Fitness Zone Hojo motto. (Coined by Chris Holmquist-Johnson in the "4-Tiered Athletic Conditioning Seminar," "Well, if you have to rest forty-eight hours before a competition and forty-eight hours after, that would mean you'd train twice a week or...Wednesdays.") "Twice a week or Wednesdays" will complete the exercises only once in the middle of the week allowing her body time to rest before competition and recover after competition. When she begins training, she can only hold the core stabilization exercises for five seconds (the goal is five repetitions of fifteen seconds). This is acceptable. Over the course of the next twelve weeks her balance will progressively improve.

Level One and Two whole body awareness tests

Ask the dog to place his front feet on a wobble board and reward. If the dog is very unsteady and repetitively steps off the board, begin the exercises at Level One. If the dog is unsteady and remains on the board, but has difficulty controlling the movement, begin exercises at Level Two. If the dog is steady and remains on the board easily maneuvering it in all directions, complete the test for Level Three.

Level One and Two whole body awareness tests.

Level Three whole body awareness test

Ask the dog to place all of his feet on the tilt board positioned to shift from right to left and reward. If the dog is very unsteady and/or repetitively steps off the board, begin the exercises at Level Two. If the dog is unsteady and remains on the board, but has difficulty moving the board or controlling the movement, begin exercises at Level Three. If dog is steady and remains on board easily maneuvering it in both directions, complete the test for Level Four.

Level Three whole body awareness test.

Level Four whole body awareness test

Ask the dog to place all of his feet on wobble board and reward. If the dog is very unsteady and/or repetitively steps off the board, begin awareness exercises at Level Three. If the dog is unsteady and remains on the board but has difficulty moving the board or controlling the movement, begin the exercises at Level Four. If the dog remains on the board and easily maneuvers the board in all directions, contact Canine Fitness Zone (www.caninefitnesszone.com) for elite Level Five conditioning exercises.

Level Four whole body awareness test.

Core stabilization and whole body awareness exercises

When core stabilization and whole body awareness exercises are initiated, a series of events take place in the nervous system that, over a twelve week period, improves the accuracy of balance reactions. (Please see Chapter 4 for cellular adaptation of strength training.) For example, when a dog begins core stabilization exercises on the balance disc, the following series of nervous system events occur: (1) the muscles of the hip contract to move the rear limbs onto the disc; (2) as the muscles contract they move the joint; (3) as the joint changes position, the nerves around the joint, including the nerves of postural stabilizing muscles, send signals to the brain; (4) the brain combines these signals with visual and vestibular input; (5) the brain integrates these signals and determines if the body needs to change positions or not; (6) the brain sends the signal to the body; and (7) the body responds. When the exercises are completed with good posture and control, the nerves and muscles adapt so balance reactions become more efficient.

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!

This concludes this week's section. Stay tuned for the second section next Wednesday, May 4th. Click here to read part one and part two.

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