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  • Writer's pictureIN STRIDE

Looking to compete with your pup?

Knowing your pet

I love performance animals because more often than not, the owner knows their animal.⁠

Performance owners are able to pick up on small subtle changes in their pet's performance and know when something is "not quite right."⁠

The most common reason pet owners seek out chiropractic is due to a change in routine or performance. For animal athletes, this can look different than your companion animals.⁠

Most often, you might notice change in stamina, refusing certain obstacles, having a hard time with navigation, dropping rails, and more.

Warm up!

Simple, short, intentional routines can make the difference between soft tissue injuries, time off, and continued progress towards our goals. This can be applied to any pet.⁠

So for that older dog that lives on some property, maybe not the best idea to just throw the door open and let them run outside. Start first on a leash for 5 minutes, and them let them go run.⁠

For that puppy that lives in an apartment, maybe not the best idea to carry them down the steps, to a field, and then play rigorous, fast paced fetch. Maybe consider walking them around, going for a light 5min jog and then play fetch.⁠

For that canines athlete, maybe not the best idea to keep them in their kennel all day and then go do their run. Maybe take them out 15 min prior and do some light jogging, small jumps, or balance exercises.⁠

The concept is we want to warm muscles up before exertion in order to prevent injury and promote longevity.

Endurance and conditioning

What do you do to keep your pup feeling strong?⁠

I highly recommend exercises that challenge balance, stabilize core, and develop endurance. ⁠

Balance: things like wobble discs or inflatable balance discs are easy to find and can be a fun challenge for you pup.

Core: this can include advanced balance training, standing on 3 legs or hind legs only, changing positions (stand, sit, lay down), crawling, back up, roll over, and etc⁠

Endurance: this includes cardio. Can vary from swimming, underwater treadmill, or going for a fast pace walk and light jog. I recommend at least 20-30min 2-3x/week


I was recently listening to some new research that surprised me: static stretches are a BIG NO on competition day.⁠

Static stretching is where an owner will passively move a muscle group through a range of motion for their pet. I often send owners home with exercises such as the one pictured.⁠

But before a competition? Static stretches (especially without a warm up) have been shown to decrease performance.⁠

Why is this? Static stretching the muscles is similar to stretching out a rubber band. ⁠

**When a rubber band is too cold ⁠

(like a muscle without a warm up)⁠

** or stretched too far ⁠

(like a muscle that is tight / not regularly stretched)⁠

it can cause tearing and loss of elasticity. Neither of which you want before a competition! ⁠

Instead, static stretching should be a part of your routine (2-4x/week). Think like us humans, 1-2 days of yoga mixed in with 3-5 days of strength and conditioning.⁠

Static stretches can promote flexibility and optimize range of motion between performances. This can help keep muscles loose and supple. Stretching is best when done routinely... not just the day of the show.⁠

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