Friday and Saturday were really fun. We went to a seminar on how to help prevent injuries in dogs through stretching. Friday evening was a classroom type setting, without your dog. There was a slide show and the person presenting the information took questions and demonstrated anything we had questions about on his dog. His demo dog was the most flexible 10 year old Rottie/Shepherd mix that I've ever seen! Then we were to go home and try it out on our dogs and come back the next day for a "hands on" portion of the seminar.
I know, it might have made more sense to take an older dog like Zoe to something like this. Since when have I followed the logical path? I took Dare. I was really happy with my decision in the end.
The "hands on" portion was a little hard for her to settle down for. There was a room filled with at least 10 dog/handler teams attempting to stretch their dogs. For the amount of distraction in the room, I thought Dare was a gem. She did a pretty good job of staying on her mat, and even spent a good portion of the time relaxing (somewhat) laying down on her side. I did end up having to do more massaging than actual stretching, but I think it was a good start. She did let me get in some stretches eventually and I think it's a process that you can't rush through, you just both have to get used to what you're doing and work together.
He did explain the difference between passive stretching exercises, and active assisted type stretching. Obviously, the passive stretching are when the dog is relaxed and usually lying down and you are stretching the muscles for them. The active assisted stretching usually are with the dog standing and they do part of the work of the stretching with you. For Dare right now, the active assisted type stretches are more successful for us. They allow her to be standing and also were of shorter duration.
I thought it was interesting that one of the active type stretches that he mentioned that we could find useful for agility is having the dogs weave in figure eights between our legs. Something that Diana had mentioned in her blog after she and Miley went to a Debbie Gross Saunders Seminar. You can read her post here. I was doing it wrong though. Funny how you can picture weaving through your legs in a couple different ways. LOL The way he demonstrated was just standing with your legs spread apart and you not moving. Luring the dog through in a tight figure eight. I had tried in the past having Dare weave through my legs, but as I was walking forward, not standing still.
Anyway, one of the things that I really enjoyed was something that I didn't even expect to be discussed. It was some of the various ways you can use to condition and strengthen your dog. He mentioned that any of us that were interested in trying out the treadmill with our dogs were welcome to try. So, we did! Dare did great. She wasn't worried at all about it. The funniest thing was watching her think about walking. I hadn't considered how much thought she was going to have to give to walking. It was so funny to watch her lose her train of thought when I'd tell her she was doing good or offer her a treat. She definitely was having trouble doing two things at once. So, I think it gave her as much of a mental workout as it did physically.
We also got to do some work on the balance balls. Dare LOVED this part! I only have the balance disc so this gave us a chance to try out some of the other sizes and varieties of balance balls out there. I think our favorite was the peanut shaped ball. It seemed to me to be the most versatile. He did everything from just having her do some basic balance work, to having her balance while on 3 legs and then on just two! We even tried a little with two balls at once, but we didn't have enough time to really get her used to that idea. Here's just a little video of what we played around with. Fair Warning...you'll just have to ignore all of us babbling in the background. There is also a part where a dog was trying out the treadmill and wasn't really thinking it was the greatest thing. Dare didn't seem to notice anything going on around her, other than the location of the treats. LOL One of these days I'll take the time to figure out how to put on the cool music that everyone else seems to know how to do. In the meantime, you are welcome to just hit your mute button when you get sick of listening to us.
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