Stay Limber, do the Labby Limbo

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fitDogFriday_180x150Happy FitDog Friday.  

I hope that you all are staying fit and in ‘summer shape’ as we head into mid-July. This week, we want to share an exercise that we stumbled upon down at the park.  We didn’t think much of it until several weeks ago when we paid closer attention to Jack during the movement and noticed that it seemed to really engage his leg and core muscles in ranges that he normally does not ‘train’.  We call this exercise the Labby Limbo, but you can call it anything you want including “effective”. I am sure that all of you agility athletes are already practicing movements like this so you already know what a great exercise it is.

How to Do the Labby Limbo

The Labby Limbo movement requires that the dog navigate under a bar that is low enough to force them to squat down in order to clear the bar.  Just like the Limbo dance that we used to do in college – without all the beer of course.  You don’t want the bar to be positioned so that the dog has to crawl on the ground (which removes the leg aspect) nor so high that they can scoot under it without having to lower their body.


Benefits of the Labby Limbo

The Labby Limbo is very similar to the human squat and it works both the front and lower limbs—the front limbs when entering the bar and the back limbs when exiting from under the bar.  Notice how Jack’s back legs are flexed and working as he comes out from underneath?

  • Leg strength: this exercise works your dog’s legs via the squatting motion and because of the forward movement during the exercise, forces these muscles to work under tension until the bar is cleared.  Further, the maximum load is applied while the dog is in the squat position which is a range of motion that is normally not targeted very frequently for most dogs.  The end result is a serious leg strength exercise.
  • Core strength: although it is hard to tell from the picture, Jack needs to brace through his core to stabilize is torso as he moves through and under the bar.  This builds core strength and specifically teaches core engagement while moving—a very valuable skill for both humans and dogs.
  • Coordination: this move requires coordination to judge and navigate the obstacle. Practicing it regularly will improve your dog’s coordination and overall athleticism.
  • Quadra-lateral engagement: yes, I just kind of made that expression up…to describe the fact that this exercise works both the front two and the back two limbs.  This is key because many dogs have an imbalance due to the fact that they tend to load more on their front limbs than their back.


Once your dog gets the hang of this, there are some simple progressions to make it more challenging and to keep the muscles challenged.

Note the dip in the bar - makes it a bit harder for Jack - closer to the ground.

Note the dip in the bar – makes it a bit harder for Jack – closer to the ground.

  1. Lower the bar or find a lower obstacle—as long as it is not too low.  Notice that Jack uses the bar that is more challenging than the other ones in the picture?
  2. Add resistance to increase the load on the muscles.  Jack uses the canine fit vest which provides a safe and comfortable way to increase the intensity of most exercises.
  3. Vary the rep scheme.  We like to do sets of 4 back and forth for a total of 8 passes under the bar.  Start with just a few reps and work up to a more challenging number.

Give the Labby Limbo a try for 4-6 weeks and you should notice an improvement in your dogs strength, stamina, and, perhaps even an added bounce in their step!

fitDogFriday_avatarPlease enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!

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  1. Great workout advice! Brychwyn and Wilhelm would win that limbo every time, though! (I’m kidding. I often do “under” instead of “over” commands, especially for the short legged dogs, on hikes to mix up the workout.)
    Bethany recently posted…Nothing Helps With What Ails You Like A Bit of Fresh AirMy Profile

    • BOL, not sure a limbo contest would be fair with the short legged guys…although it might be harder for them to squat like that – less leverage?
      mkob recently posted…Stay Limber, do the Labby LimboMy Profile

  2. As it turns out, it is a great form of exercise, and potentially physical therapy, even if just simply by getting the body move differently.

    When on her ranch, Jasmine’s climbing in and out from under the trailer or deck did seem to have therapeutic benefit
    Jana Rade recently posted…Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: CoughingMy Profile

    • Right – they don’t often move in that direction, so using those muscles has to be beneficial – just like humans.
      mkob recently posted…Stay Limber, do the Labby LimboMy Profile

  3. Love the post! Makes me want to do this with Joker. I have been doing some exercises with him. I might add this too. I bet it would be fun to shape the behavior. I might shape him to go back, and fourth under a similar fence like object.
    Francesca Villa recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: A ReminderMy Profile

  4. LOL! Being short like me there isn’t much limbo going on! This is the worst time of year for us and fitness, we don’t like the heat. Once it cools down we get back at it. Now just long walks in the early morning are about it and it is so humid out too which makes it really bad.
    emma recently posted…Tail Chasing Busy | GBGV | Follow Up FridayMy Profile

    • Walks are good too – it’s tough in the humidity, especially when you’ve got long flowing locks like Emma & Katie.
      mkob recently posted…Stay Limber, do the Labby LimboMy Profile

  5. Wow. The Labby Limbo certainly does sound like a workout & a half. I’m not sure my dog would be keen to do it more than once or twice – you must be able to keep the motivation high to do so many reps. And good breakdown of the muscles worked….
    Paws and Pedals (Kate & Scooter) recently posted…6 Reasons Why I don’t take my Dog CampingMy Profile

    • Give it a try and see…Scooter is strong, I think you’d be surprised!
      mkob recently posted…Stay Limber, do the Labby LimboMy Profile

  6. This does look like a good way to exercise muscles that are seldom used. hmm. Limbo without beer.
    jan recently posted…The dogs of Sigmund FreudMy Profile

  7. Happy Fit Dog Friday – Sounds like a good workout – thanks!

  8. What a great idea and a new way to incorporate our K9 FITvest…With Giz so close to the ground it might be tricky to find an obstacle the right height, but I’m going to be looking for one now…or maybe just set up a bar across some bricks and build my own
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Are You Feeding the Right Amount of Dog Food?My Profile

  9. Love the Labby Limbo! hehe! Rocco loves to crawl under things, but then he doesn’t have to go very low to do that! Reminds me, we need to get back to training “crawl”. We started it but never perfected it!
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco
    Diane recently posted…Norman Scooter Dog Rides for World Record Today!My Profile

  10. Wow, you can really see in that photo how Jack is using his back leg muscles differently. We have a fence just like that between our yard and our neighbors. But will my neighbors think I’m nuts if they see me out there having Sheba do the limbo? 🙂
    Jan K recently posted…Follow Up Friday – FlowersMy Profile

  11. Golden LOVE this. When I used to live in HI I’ve done this Limbo Workout. Now, being a suburban dog no such fences. We had a post for FitDog (set last Th) but had issues due to the video. We have to make changes and will share it next month. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

    • Look forward to your post – they are always good! Technology can be such a pain sometimes.
      mkob recently posted…Black & White Sunday 7-14-13My Profile

  12. Oh my, glad I came back to check on this post. My comment from the other day didn’t appear. I swear living in the boonies reaks havoic on my internet. This was a great post with great pictures. I did this with Norman after his ACL surgery when we were working on physical therapy and strengthening his muscle after surgery. I used 2 kitchen chairs and put a broom on them and had Norman pass under the broom. It was a great exercise. Thanks for posting!
    joann stancer recently posted…Black And White SundayMy Profile

  13. Sounds like a great exercise!
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Trying To Feel CoolerMy Profile

  14. Daisy does this all of the time as she navigates the underbrush at the dog park. Jack reminded me of Daisy in that top picture. That’s exactly how she looks! 🙂
    MelF recently posted…Favorite Friday Video – Best Friends, Border Collie StyleMy Profile

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