Biohacking Canine Fitness: Core Strengthening Exercises For Dogs

Biohacking for Dogs

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By Dr Dan Beatty

Exercise is important! Brave and bold statement, right? Ok, maybe not, but what type of exercise to do can lead to a large number of opinions, especially in the human world. In the dog world, it seems easier; owners tend to focus on regular walking and playful activities to keep their furry friends active, but there’s another crucial aspect of canine fitness that deserves attention: CORE STRENGTH. Strong core muscles are not just for show; they are essential for your dog’s overall health and mobility. The core muscles support the spine, aid in normal movement, and work to protect your canine companion from injuries. Whether your dog is a spry puppy, an active adult, or a senior with more sedate habits, core strength plays a vital role in their daily life and is a key biohack to longevity.

You might think of core strength as merely a human fitness goal, but it’s just as important for our canine counterparts. These muscles form a sturdy base for all movement, helping your dog maintain balance and stability, no matter the activity. A well-conditioned core allows your dog to twist, turn, and jump effortlessly, whether catching a frisbee or maneuvering through a competitive agility course.

Beyond the obvious athletic benefits, a strong core can dramatically reduce a dog’s risk of injury. This protective aspect is especially vital as dogs age and their bodies become more prone to strains and sprains. Investing in your dog’s core strength can mean fewer vet visits and a happier, more active pet throughout their life, helping them thrive rather than just survive. For puppies, core exercises can set the foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle, while for senior dogs, these activities can help maintain muscle mass and support aging joints, increasing longevity.

The advantages of core strength exercises are universal, and yet I see them often overlooked in regular doggy workout routines. Perhaps it’s not clear how to go about strengthening these muscles, or maybe the benefits are just underappreciated. Whatever the case, incorporating targeted exercises can make a world of difference. It’s a practical, accessible way to enhance your dog’s health, no matter their breed or size.

Innovative Balance Exercises for Your Dog’s Core

You know your dog needs regular walks and playtime to stay happy and healthy. But have you considered incorporating unique balance exercises into their routine? These activities not only break the monotony but are a key component in developing a robust core, crucial for your dog’s overall well-being.

Let’s start with balance equipment such as wobble boards, balance discs, or inflatable balance pads. These aren’t just for show; they’re practical tools designed to challenge your furry friend’s stability. As your dog works to maintain balance, they’re unknowingly engaging and strengthening the muscles in their core.

Begin with the balance board on a flat surface. The stability here provides a great starting point, allowing your dog to get the hang of the new equipment. As their confidence grows, so will their core strength. That’s when you can introduce more dynamic surfaces, like a cushion or unstable balance pad, increasing the difficulty and benefit.

Always keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort or fatigue. Remember, building core strength is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to progress at a pace that’s both safe and comfortable for your dog. And with regular practice, you’ll notice not just improvements in their core, but in their overall posture and agility. Now THAT is a win-win scenario.

As you and your dog become more seasoned in balance exercises, transitioning to more dynamic core strengthening movements will be a breeze. This is where the fun really begins. And that’s exactly what we’ll explore in the next section, which is packed with exercises to continue building your dog’s core strength.

Below are some basic exercises that can help you strengthen your dog’s core. These exercises come with basic explanations to help you get started. However, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive and in-depth series of exercises, I highly recommend my friend and colleague Dr. Laurie McCauley’s exercise class – Core & More: Foundational Exercises for Your Dog. For a 10% discount sign up for our newsletter The Dog Hacker here 

Dynamic Movements for Building a Stronger Core

Dynamic movements are not just for us, they are vital for dogs too. Exercises that involve a range of motion are excellent for building not just flexibility, but also strength in their core muscles. Here, I’ll guide you through a set of exercises designed to help your dog develop a more robust core, allowing them to lead a healthier and more active life.

Sit-to-stand repetitions are a simple yet effective way to bolster your dog’s hind limbs and core. A daily routine of these movements can make a significant difference. You want your dog to sit, then stand up straight, using their muscles rather than momentum to change positions. Precision here is key, ensuring they keep a straight back to engage the core muscles thoroughly.

Next on our list are the Cavaletti poles. Traditionally used in horse training, these are just as beneficial for our canine companions. By setting up poles that your dog can walk or trot over, you’re inspiring them to lift their limbs intentionally. This targets multiple muscle groups, including their core. For the best results, adjust the height and spacing of the poles to match your dog’s size and ability, and remember, it should challenge them enough to lift those legs!

Puppy push-ups take your dog’s workout to the next level. This three-part exercise starts with your dog standing, then moves to a sitting position, and finally into a ‘down’ position before reversing back to standing. It’s a full-body workout that especially targets the core and limb muscles. Think of it as a layered approach to building muscle and endurance.

Your dog may need encouragement and practice to master these exercises, so patience is critical. Always watch for signs of strain or fatigue; we want to build their core, not overburden it. Praise and treat rewards work wonders in motivating them, as does keeping each session short and fun. Through these dynamic exercises, your pup will gradually build up a powerhouse of a core, and you’ll notice the difference in their posture, agility, and overall health.

Fun and Engaging Core Workouts for Every Pup

Building a strong core in your dog doesn’t have to be a chore – for you or for your furry friend. By incorporating engaging activities like tug of war and the plank position into playtime, you can turn exercise into an enjoyable bonding experience. Remember, the key to successful core strengthening is consistency and gradual progression in intensity and duration.

When engaging in a game of tug of war, it’s crucial to keep the tug toy level with your dog’s head to maintain a neutral spine, avoiding any unnecessary strain. Controlled movements are essential here, as jerky or violent tugging can do more harm than good. So keep it fun, but also keep it safe.

The plank position might sound like a human fitness fad, but it’s as beneficial for dogs as it is for their owners. Guiding your dog into a plank, with their front legs extended and rear legs under their body, and encouraging them to hold it strengthens their entire body, not only their core. Start with short durations and as your dog builds strength, you can gradually ask them to hold the position longer.

Ultimately, every dog is unique. Tailor the intensity and duration of these exercises to your dog’s individual fitness level and health conditions. Regularly engaging in these activities can lead to noticeable improvements in your dog’s posture, agility, and well-being. Always keep an eye out for signs of fatigue or discomfort. Consult with a veterinarian or a canine fitness professional, like Dr Laurie McCauley, if you’re ever in doubt about the best exercise plan for your dog.

The above is a great start, but if you really want to help your dog and improve its core, you are going to need Dr Laurie’s help. The 24 exercises taught in Core & More are designed to strengthen core muscle and stabilize joints but also give dogs the mental stimulation so many of them need. With variations and progressions of each exercise, her course teaches you how to help your dog grow stronger and more mobile in a fun and safe manner.

Sign up for Core & More: Foundational Exercises for Your Dog today! If you would like a discount on the course, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter, The Dog Hacker, and we will send you a code for 10% off. Just click–> The Dog Hacker Sign up

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