Strength Training for Dogs: Hind Leg
As discussed in my last post, the hind legs are a particularly vulnerable area for many dogs, especially as they age. As with humans, the notion of “use it or lose it” certainly applies. The key to preserving (or building) a dog’s hind leg strength is to focus the exercises so that they target these muscles. Each of the exercises below will target the hind legs and are fun ways to exercise with your dog.
Tug – This is an old standby that can easily be converted into a hind leg exercise. The key is to tug from a high angle so that the dog is forced to rely more on their back legs than their front legs. Hold the tug toy at a height that allows the dog’s body to form a straight, but upward sloping line (as viewed from the top). Their body should be properly aligned. Be careful not to hold the tug toy too high or else the dog might angle their head to achieve the extra height. This could put undue stress on the dog’s cervical area, which is poor alignment and could lead to neck injuries.
Pull – Pulling is a great way to build a dog’s hind leg strength. Use a pull harness and either add a weighted resistance (e.g. a sled or cart) or just provide the resistance yourself by holding them gently as they walk or run forward. Do NOT attach the lead to the dog’s neck, which could lead to a neck injury.
Front Leg Elevations – Anytime a dog has their front legs higher than their rear legs, the back legs are forced to bear the majority of the load. Almost any exercise where the front legs are elevated, either in air or on a platform or raised object, will really hit those hind leg muscles. We like to do a drill called the elevated touch drill, which works both the hind legs and the core. Have the dog place their front legs on the elevated surface and hold that position. Once they are set, gently perturb up and down their body so that they are forced to contract their core while holding still.
For an even more advanced exercise, have the dog raise one of their rear legs while in this elevated position. Loading the hind legs unilaterally is a fantastic way to target the hind leg muscles and it can improve core strength and balance as well. One way to do this is to tickle the dog near their rear flank or underbelly, which can cause them to lift their leg (to scratch). This modification is one of SlimDoggy Jack’s favorite exercises!
We have some special plans coming up in the month of October so be sure you visit us next week at FitDog Friday. Our co-hosts To Dog With Love and My GBGV Life will be announcing a special month-long fitness event with lots of great challenges and tips to get your pups (and you!) in shape for the upcoming holiday season. Get ready for cardio, strength training and conditioning — we’ll have a new challenge each week in October. We will also have some great prize packages from our Fall Fitness Challenge sponsor. All the details will be announced next Friday… so get ready to have some fall fitness fun!
— SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) September 25, 2015
Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life.
Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!