Strength Training for Dogs: Sit Progression for Hind Legs
For many dogs, the hind legs can become a problem area, especially as the dogs get older and move into their senior years. The primary reason for this is because many dogs will tend to load their body weight more onto their front limbs than their back limbs. Over time, this can lead to a strength discrepancy between the front and the rear legs, which in turn, can lead to injuries and mobility issues.
There are many exercises that can target the hind legs and that will help to keep a dog’s hind legs strong. One of the simplest progressions is the sit progression. The sit progression uses the basic commands sit and stand (or up) to move the dog through a series of hind leg focused squatting movements. These moves will primarily work the rear legs of the dog as well as their core.
Level 1 – Sit to Stand. This is probably the most basic, yet effective canine exercise out there for working the hind legs. Have the dog sit on command and then after a 1-2 second pause, ask the dog to ‘stand’. Have the dog hold the stand for 2 seconds, and then repeat 8-10 times.
Level 2 – Down to Stand. This is similar to Sit to Stand but it involves more muscle recruitment. Have the dog lie down on command (e.g. ‘down’) and then, after a 1-2 second pause, ask the dog to stand. Repeat 8-10 times. I like to think of this exercise as the canine equivalent of a burpee. (For those of you who know what a burpee is and who have tried a burpee, you should be able to understand why a down to stand can be a great exercise for a dog!)
Level 3 – Sit to Box. This is the most complex of the progression and it requires a box, an ottoman, or any kind of elevated surface. Using a box as an example, have the dog sit on command, and then after a 1-2 second pause, stand, and then raise their front legs up and stand on a box (front legs on the box, rear legs on the ground). After a 2 second pause, have the dog move off the box and back into a sit position. Repeat up to 10 times. You can use a rock too like we did on our Big Bear trip this year.
The sit progression is a simple, yet effective exercise sequence for building up a dog’s hind leg strength. Next week, I will share some more exercise movements that will target a dog’s hind legs.