It all starts with core strength. Just like humans, dogs need to have a strong core. Does your dog look good but not great? Is your dog at the right weight, but just doesn't look fit? Take a good look at your dog as he moves around the ring or outside. Do you see a shift or roll on his back?
If you notice any of these things, your dog needs to strengthen his core. Here are three easy exercises you can do in just a few minuets, without special equipment, to improve your dogs core strength. In addition to improved appearance and performance, a strong core will reduce the risk of injury, improve gait and will literally carry your dog in their senior years.
Here are three quick and easy exercises you can do with your dog on a daily basis that will improve core strength. No special equipment is needed and you can run your dog through these in just a few minutes time. I take my three dogs through them while I drink my coffee each morning.
- Sit to Stand reps. This is an easy one, since most dogs already know how to sit. Ask you dog to Sit, then Stand, Sit then Stand. I have worked my dogs up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions each. The pace is about 1 second between Sit and Stand, then a little break before I start the next set. Make sure your dog is moving to the standing position using their rear, not their front. If needed, back your dog's rear into a corner or wall to ensure proper form. This is harder than you think for your dog. Start slowly with just a few repetitions and build up over a period of a few weeks. This is the equivalent of you going to the gym for the first time in months and lifting a lot of weights. The next day is not a good one...your dog will experience the same thing, so go slowly and make this fun.
- Sit to Down reps. Otherwise known as "puppy push-ups". Put your dog in a Sit, then ask for a Down, then back up into a Sit. Work your dog up to 3 sets of 10 with about 1 second between the Sit and the Down. Remember, go slow and gradually increase the number of repetitions that you do.
- Sit, beg, stand and sit. This is the hardest but probably the most beneficial of the exercises. Put your dog in a Sit, the raise up to a beg position, then all the way up to standing on two hind legs, then back down to a sit. Start with your dog in a Sit and just try to move him up to a beg position, the classic standing on haunches with front paws at his chest. For some dogs this is a very natural position that they perform nightly right around dinner time! But for a lot of dogs this can be very challenging. Use treats and help your dog up into a beg. Support him with one hand on his collar and your forearm under his front paws. Just work and practice up to this position until your dog has mastered it. A few times each morning for about a week or so and your dog will be comfortable going to this point.
- Next add the all the way up on hind legs command and back down. Once your dog has mastered the positions you can gradually add more repetitions.
Feed a portion of your dogs morning meal as training "treats" when practicing these exercises. This becomes a fun game for your dog and you aren't adding extra calories or junk food.
Use a clicker when you first start if your dog is not solid on the commands. Marking the correct position and behavior makes it very clear to your dog what you are asking him to do.
Keep it fun! My dogs LOVE this one on one time and they LOVE to work!