Canine health and well-being can be greatly improved by regular exercise. Hydrotherapy and rehabilitation experts Woozlebears have kindly agreed to answer our questions about keeping your dog fighting fit!
What is Canine Conditioning?
Canine fitness describes the dogs current ability to perform a specific task or activity. Canine conditioning is what we do to improve the dogs ability to perform a specific task or activity.
Why is Canine Conditioning Important & What Are The Benefits?
Canine Fitness & Conditioning has a number of benefits. To name a few:
- Reduce the risk of an injury
- Improve their quality of life
- Improve the dog’s ability to complete activities
- Increase their stamina and reduce fatigue
- Quicken the dog’s recovery following the activity
- Improve their performance
- Target and build specific muscles
- Fitness sessions offer your dog more mental stimulation
- Helps improve your bond with your dog
Is Canine Conditioning Suitable For All Dogs?
All dogs of all breeds, ages, shapes and sizes!
Many people think that fitness and conditioning apply to sporting and working dogs alone. This is a myth!
All dogs can really benefit from conditioning to improve their current fitness levels. Our main goal here is to help improve your dog’s quality of life, and that’s why this is so important to us.
Conditioning needs change depending on what activities, sports or work the dog is doing. All of this is taken into account when building each dog’s individual fitness plan.
Did you know most strains and injuries can come from simple tasks such as chasing a ball or jumping a ditch? Slipping on wet ground or tripping over an uneven surface is also a common cause. We can condition our dog’s bodies to better cope with the stress of daily activities. This reduces the risk of these injuries.
The only times our courses may not be suitable is if your dog is suffering from an injury or clinical condition. If they are or have, they will need to have first completed a rehabilitation program with a veterinary professional such as a Physiotherapist or Hydrotherapist. If your professional then feels your dog is ready, you can then join our courses to help condition them further!
Can You Strengthen Specific Areas Of Your Dog?
Yes absolutely! All of our exercises are chosen to suit each dog and their individual needs. When we assess a dog we will analyse their gait and how they perform certain exercises. We also analyse any videos you may have of them working, training or competing.
We can then gain an idea of which areas your dog needs to work on most. For example, many dogs have a dominant side which is stronger than the less dominant side. Some dogs may be more flexible in one direction than another. Some may have one weaker leg or specific muscles that are weaker.
All of our exercises are labelled to work specific target areas. Once we assess your dog we can then choose exercises to suit them the best.
Why Is Form So Important During Canine Conditioning?
Form is everything when taking part in canine conditioning. If your dog can perform the exercises, but cannot do so with correct form they will be building incorrect muscles and only strengthening their compensatory techniques. This then makes them even more prone to injury!
Limiting the rehearsal of poor form when conditioning will help to eliminate things we don’t want. This is why we watch very carefully to decipher when the dog is tired, so then we don’t allow reps with poor form, as the more they do the sloppy ones without correct form the more they will continue to compensate and stay stuck in habits without progressing.
Is Balance Equipment Good For Dogs?
Balance equipment can be a great tool for canine conditioning. It can help to increase the difficulty of an exercise, therefore further strengthening muscles. Balance work allows you to work on a dog’s postural muscles. Depending on what area of the dog is placed on balance equipment, you can work their entire body! From their front end musculature, to their spine and core, right down to their hind end musculature.
Balance equipment is also excellent for helping to build more confidence in dogs. We always start out easy, even with just different textures and minimal/no balance element, and work our way up to the harder, more unstable balance equipment. When dogs are confident and able on balance equipment we find they can become more confident overall!
Balance equipment can also help them further develop skills needed within sports such as agility, flyball and heelwork to music, but also in working dogs who have jobs such as search and rescue, gundogs, sheepdogs and more!
We do put in our word of caution with balance equipment. We cannot stress enough how important it is that your dog is competent with all exercises on the ground before bringing in balance equipment to increase the difficulty. If balance equipment is introduced too soon, you could increase the risk of injury rather than reduce it. If a dog is compensating, and the exercise is made harder, you only put further stress on those areas the dog is compensating with. The only time it should be considered to bring in balance equipment sooner would be under the guidance of a Veterinary Professional such as a Physiotherapist.
What Is The Canine Fitness App?
Very simply put, this is an app to help people with canine conditioning. This goes for pet dogs, sports dogs, and working dogs. All dogs are included and encouraged to take part in conditioning. The fitness plans can be tailored to each dog’s individual needs, whether all they do is play a bit of fetch at the local field, or for high-performance sports and working dogs. The app offers multiple courses people can complete from home with their dog. All our courses have an element of theory and learning, before moving on to showing you the exercises to complete. Some of our courses just offer individual exercises to learn as skills, whereas others will have full workout routines included.
The canine fitness app, a place to access all our available courses and teaching. The bonus of the app? You can learn anytime, anywhere!
What’s included when you subscribe to the app?
- Access to ALL our courses PLUS bonus content
- Jump into our private Facebook group so that you can get advice from experts. Helping you to stay accountable, and see everyone working with their dogs together! Feel supported and chat with other like-minded people.
- Downloadable content, including training planners, basic anatomy, exercises etc.
- In-app tracking to help you track your progress with different exercises and sports too!
- In-app community
- No need to download, this is a hybrid app so it won’t take up any space on your phone! And this also means it’s accessible on your desktop too.
- Videos to watch back of each exercise so you have no need to worry about “Am I doing this right?”, “Is their form correct?” etc. You can watch the exercises back real time as you’re doing them for extra guidance!
- Fresh content added regularly
What Qualifications Do You Have?
Hannah – K9PT
- Level 3 BTEC in Animal Management.
- Began working with Woozelbears in 2012 as their first-ever apprentice
- Qualified Small Animal Hydrotherapist, including advanced courses
- Hundreds of hours of CPD, including seminars and individual research
- Senior Hydrotherapist & centre manager at Woozelbears for 2 years
- Fully trained in the use of FitFurLife Gait Analysis Treadmill
- Canine Fitness Conditioning Coach
- Studying to qualify as a Pro Dog Trainer
- Train and starting to compete in agility with her own dogs
Charlotte – Course Creator
- Founder and CEO of Woozelbears Hydrotherapy & Grooming
- Qualified Small Animal Hydrotherapist
- Veterinary Physiotherapist – specialising in canine
- Leading specialist in conditioning the canine athlete
- Author of the new L3, L4, L5 and L6 Diploma qualifications in Hydrotherapy
- Lead trainer and assessor
- Studied Veterinary Health Studies at the University of the West of England, Bristol
- Previously worked in veterinary nursing
- Certified K-Laser Specialist
- Individual member of the CHA (Canine Hydrotherapy Association), IRVAP (The Institute of Registered Veterinary & Animal Physiotherapists) and ICH (Institute of Canine Hydrotherapists)
- Canicross Instructor
- Certified Trick Dog Instructor
What Other Services Do You Offer?
- 1-2-1 sessions
- The Canine Fitness App
- The Canine Fitness Groundwork Challenge
- Canine Fitness Equipment Shop
What Are The Benefits of 1-2-1 Fitness Coaching For Dogs?
- Individual canine conditioning training plan created with our fitness coaches to suit your dog
- Full evaluation and assessment of your dog to find any areas that may be weaker than others
- Exercises tailored to improve areas your dog may need to work on
- Full attention on you and your dog from one of our fitness coaches
- Exercises built around the fitness equipment you already own or advice on which equipment would suit you and your dog most
- Exercises tailored to your dogs sport or job
£40 per session, or if you sign up to the app subscription then it’s £30 per session
What Is The Canine Fitness Groundwork Challenge?
Our Canine Fitness Groundwork Challenge has developed to help improve your dog’s form & fitness, reducing the risk of injury while building an even stronger bond with your dog. It’s not just for sports dogs! Pet dogs & working dogs are really highly encouraged to take part too! Running over the course of 6 weeks, you are fully coached throughout. You get access to our Groundwork Course on The Canine Fitness App for life! But it’s way more than just that.
What’s Does The Canine Fitness Groundwork Challenge Include?
- Constant Coaching via our Facebook group & Messenger/WhatsApp/Instagram through the 6 weeks. You can contact me at any time on the platform above that suits you best.
- Group Coaching Calls on Thursday of weeks 1, 2, 4 & 5 at 7 pm BST/GMT.
- Assessments on weeks 3 & 6 to personalise your plan to ensure your dog is getting exactly what they need
- Free Exercise Guide Cheat Sheet & other downloadable & printable content!
- Access to our private Facebook group so that you stay accountable, and can see everyone working with their dogs together! As well as post photos & videos for extra help & guidance.
- Lifetime access to the Groundwork Course, which includes theory as well as exercises
- 6 weeks of access to our targeting course
- Access our app on tablet, desktop or mobile!
The next Canine Fitness Groundwork Challenge starts on the 6th of June 2022.
We really are passionate about improving the quality of all dogs’ lives! So if you think your dog might benefit from some extra fitness in their life, get in touch today and get started with canine conditioning.
For more health, wellbeing and fitness tips for your pooch click here.