Canine Fitness Equipment: Cones
When it comes to canine fitness equipment, cones and poles are a versatile option that many pet owners don’t immediately think of. Yet, these portable products can be used in many different ways for dogs of all ages and athletic ability. Look no further than human fitness for validation. Many sports use cones and poles (or pole-like hurdles) to train and condition their athletes for the rigor of sport.
Using Cones for Canine Fitness
Cones can be used to force the dog to move in a more precise way- either by moving point-to-point or through the cones that are set up in specific patterns by the human.
Point-to-point cone training
Point-to-point cone training can be used for sprinting drills, where the dog sprints from one cone to the other, and then returns. Obviously the distance and speed at which the dog moves to each cone can be adjusted to alter intensity.
Pattern cone training
Pattern cone training (my made up term) is when cones are set up in a specific pattern and the dog is asked to move through or to the cones in a specific pattern. I use t-drills and star drills for my own fitness training as they help me stay (relatively) agile and work different movement patterns. The same is true for dogs. Cone weaves are a basic drill that you can do with your dog (no matter what their age or athletic level).
Set up the cones along a straight line. Use at least 4-5 cones and space them a few feet apart (slightly less for small dogs). Then, standing next to the dog, have them (and yourself) weave through the cones, walking to the left of the first cone, and then to the right of the second cone, etc. until you get to the end. Without stopping, circle back and weave back to the starting point. That is one set. DO ate least 3-5 sets.
For variation, set up the cones so that they are closer or further apart. This will change to emphasis- the closer they are, the more body control the dog will need and the further they are, the faster the dog can move through the cones. The pattern and the way your dog moves through the cones can be varied to target specific weaknesses in the dog’s body as well. This is why cones are a great tool for rehab. Indeed, our senior Lab Jack is embarking on a formal physical rehab program and cones are a big part of his ‘homework’.
- Cone weaves provide many benefits including:
- Improved active range of motion and body awareness
- Can force increased weight shift to one side or the other (depending on what the dog needs)
- Improved balance
- Improved core strength and flexibility