Many dogs place heavy demands on their musculoskeletal system. Just as professional athletes regularly visit physiotherapists, chiropractors, personal trainers etc, so should those dogs that are subjected to the same type of stresses.
Sporting dogs and their owners/handlers can be incredibly focused on their sport and will be so driven that they will continue to train and compete at a high level even if they are in pain. As a result, many injuries go unnoticed until they deteriorate and then become a serious threat to that athlete’s long-term ability to compete.
Routine preventative care can help these dogs prepare their bodies for the stresses they are put under and, importantly, identify small problems before they become big problems. Routine fitness assessments allow us to tailor training programs to each athlete’s needs and so can ensure that the athlete is maintained at peak fitness throughout the season.
Every sport is very different and so a thorough understanding of the discipline that the athlete is involved in and the type of injuries that the discipline predisposes to is vital in developing an effective conditioning program and correct training methods. As the old adage says ….”prevention is better than cure”.
Some examples of those dogs that can benefit from a sports medicine/fitness assessment include:
- Active family pets – just because these dogs are not formally canine athletes does not mean that they’re not subjected to the same, if not more, rigours during their daily activity. Chasing balls, catching frizbees, racing around the park with other dogs, all involve significant strenuous activity.
– Competition dogs – agility dogs, flyable dogs, herding dogs, gun dogs etc. Each kind of competition can place unique stresses on a dog’s body.
– Show dogs – whether it be a conformation champion or a canine celebrity, fluidity of movement and overall strength and cardiovascular fitness are critical to the success they will have in the ring.
– Working dogs – unique to this group of dogs (police, army, search and rescue, customs) they are expected to perform their job, which consists of strenuous activity, without any time for stretching or warm up techniques. Therefore it is important that they are provided with a regular conditioning program to ensure that they stay in peak condition ready for any immediate bursts of activity that they may be asked to engage in.