Core Training for Your Dog
Fit people and their fit dogs generally have several exercise habits that are common with their fit brethren. One such habit is to consistently exercise the “core”.
Benefits of a Strong Core
There are many benefits to having a strong core. Whether it is a dog or a person, a strong core is worth the effort as it can:
Improve athletic performance. Whatever a dog’s sport, whether it is running, agility, flyball, or field work, a strong core will lead to improved performance. The main reason is because a strong core will be able to better align the body as it moves “in space” and thus allow the athlete to perform at a higher level. As strong core will also enable more efficient power transfer from the legs to the rest of the body, which can translate to greater speed, power, and agility.
Reduce injury risk. A strong core can better protect the back, both during athletic and exercise activities as well as in normal daily activities. A strong core will help to bear the brunt of the load forces that are placed on the body during virtually any activity.
Improve digestion and overall health. A strong core can better protect vital organs in the torso, including the stomach, pancreas, liver, and kidney. Furthermore, core work can have a massage effect on the organs, helping to keep them flushed with fresh blood and functioning as they are intended.
Make you look sexy. Yes, the elusive 6- or 8-pack requires a well-developed core. Although this does not really apply to dogs, it is certainly a nice benefit to humans who include regular core work in their exercise routines.
Simple core exercises for a Dog
There are many ways to incorporate core work into a dog’s training. Some of our favorites are included below. (We have written about these in the past and you can click on each exercise description below to link to our prior posts).
Balance training on an unstable surface. Anytime a dog is forced to balance, their body is forced to engage the core and other stabilizer muscles to keep from toppling over. Use the K9 Fit Bone or other unstable cushions to add an element of instability to really work the dog’s core.
Touch drill. One of our favorites, this is an easy drill to perform anywhere. Simply use your hand to gently perturb the dog’s sides and torso, doing a minimum of 10 sets for each side. Add an element of hind leg training by doing this drill while the dog has their front legs on an elevated surface (e.g. a box or a chair).
Labby Limbo. Use the low rail of a fence or a bar or pole supported by two chairs to create a “limbo” style setup. Have the dog approach and then go under the bar to the other side. Turn around and repeat. This exercise is a great way to work the dog’s entire body and is especially fun if you have Harry Belafonte music (Shake Senora) blasting in the background.
Targeted and intelligent core training can and will improve athletic performance and reduce injury risk. You might develop a six or eight pack. Your dog will develop a more functional body. What are you waiting for?