Clean Run - September 2011 - (Page 43)

© LIBBYE MILLER DVM Exercises for Dogs with a Straight Front By Dr. Debbie Gross Saunders, photos by Clean Run except where noted Most people have a weakness that they learn to compensate for. It may be a physical or an emotional weakness. Some of us are more aware of our weaknesses than others. And these weaknesses may change over the course of our lifetime. For example, if we have flat feet, we usually adjust with orthotics or a certain brand of shoe; and we learn to perform certain exercises to assist with the range of motion of our foot and calf area. If we are afraid of heights, we usually avoid them or make adjustments to deal with it. The same is true with our dogs. Each dog has at least one weakness and the better handlers understand this and work with the dog’s weakness or weaknesses so they can perform better as a team. Straight fronts or front-limb assemblies are very common in dogs (some breeds more than others). It is important to understand the potential ramifications of your dog having a straight front as well as the activities you can do that may assist your dog with his agility performance. Training to a dog’s weakness is important and may lead to your team’s successful career. Any breed of dog can have a straight front. Working or guarding breeds tend to have straighter fronts than other breeds due to the nature of the job they were bred to perform. For example, Doberman Pinschers tend to have straighter fronts than Border Collies because they were bred to perform guarding and standing activities. September 11 | Clean Run Training to Your Weakness Straight shoulders 45°shoulder angle Border Collies and other herding breeds were bred to have more of angulated front due to the nature of their breed activity, herding sheep. However, this does not mean that the herding breeds all have properly angulated fronts. It is a breed generalization and often when the assumption is made that herding dogs have good fronts, it is not always the case. hallenges with a Cstraighter frontfor DogsdecreasesStraight Front extension. These dogs are A in a dog reach, drive, and/or unable to obtain as much reach or extension as a dog without a straight front. Their shoulder complex is unable to reach beyond its physical ability for extension. The actual measured extension is reduced; however, the body still attempts to gain the same amount of extension. Therefore, the dog uses other parts of his body to reach his goal. For example, if a person cannot turn her head over her right shoulder, she will turn her trunk to compensate for the movement lacking in her neck. Or if a person were trying to reach an object on a high shelf and she could only raise her shoulder a certain height, she compensates by extending or arching her back. The same thing happens with a dog. A straighter shoulder reduces the arc of shoulder movement, but the dog makes up for that movement with his upper and lower back, and possibly his rear as well. Adjustments Chiropracticstraight shouldersand Massage Therapy in the mid-back Many dogs with experience tightness or soreness region. Handlers are often told their dogs have sore backs by massage therapists or chiropractors when it is actually secondary to their dogs’ conformation and posture. One of the first steps in working with a dog with a straight front is proper maintenance. If an area begins to get sore due to the straight front, it is important to receive regular maintenance therapy from a physical therapist, massage therapist, and/or chiropractor and acupuncturist. Exercises Stretchingdog with a straight front include the following: Stretches for a · · · · Shoulder extension Carpal and digit flexion and extension Cervical flexion and extension Hip extension 43

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - September 2011

Clean Run - September 2011
Editorializing: When a “Lifetime” Only Means Five Years
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Who’s Premack and What Does He Have to Do with My Start Lines?
Power Paws Drills: Front Side, Back Side
Improving Your Sports Vision, Part 1
Choosing the Most Efficient Path for Your Dog: Decision Making
Dylan’s Story
Teaching FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 5
Ready, Set, Trial! Should You Move Up?
Agility Bloopers
Training to Your Weakness: Exercises for Dogs with a Straight Front
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 6
Great Expectations
Agility Games to Play with Puppies
Challenges for Rising Stars: Snooker Expanded
Agility Defined by Me

Clean Run - September 2011