Sporting dogs are mostly high drive or athletic dogs!

Pet owners would just call them really active!

Most high drive or energetic dogs compete in sports such as flyball, agility, dock diving or sledding.

Because of their activities and energy, these dogs are unfortunately more prone to injuries.

These injuries can take them out of training and competition and delay progress for many weeks or months is we are not careful.

Fortunately, there are proactive ways you can help reduce injuries in your sporting dog!


Dog through Tunnel

1. Tune-ups

Regular muscular therapy will detect and treat imbalances before they become an issue. It is easier and better to treat a problem before it worsens.


2. Warm-up and cool down before and after strenuous exercise.

Warm-ups help increase blood flow to the working muscle. Warmed muscles have improved elasticity and range of motion.  Warm-ups may enhance performance as muscles can now contract more strongly and relax faster.

Start with a brisk walk and work up to a trot. You might also add a few sprints to engage more muscle fibres. To cool down, start with a slow trot and work your way down to a walk until their breathing returns to normal.


3. Hydration


Remain hydrated before, during and after sport. Super-hydrating and mineral-rich coconut water is a good choice.


4. Protect paws

Protect paws when your dog is working through rough bushland or on hot surfaces. Paw injuries is a common cause of lameness. A tiny blister can cause the biggest, toughest dog to limp. Ask your veterinarian about supplementing with zinc or consider protective foot gear if necessary.


5. Protect vulnerable areas

Tape or strap vulnerable or previously injured joints and limbs. Talk to a veterinary physio about how to tape your dog if required.


6. Avoid overcooking any form of exercise

Conditioning or cross-training exercises! These will help work all the muscles will build a stronger athlete. When an unfit dog overdoes a single activity, it can injure.Australian Cattle Dog catching frisbee

Continuous repetition of movement places large amounts of stress on the joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. It is important to give your dog an occasional break by mixing up the training. This way over-used muscles can rest and the under-used ones can strengthen and catch-up.


7. Watch for signs of weakness

Many high drive dogs will overexert themselves beyond their level of fitness. Study your dog and learn when their muscles are fatigued.

A common sign of muscle fatigue is weakness. Weakness will cause the muscles to twitch or the dog will pace. Pushing those muscles will cause injury.

When there is not enough strength to perform an activity, muscles start compensating. Compensation will only work for so long before something breaks down. This results in serious muscle strains, trigger points and tightness.


8. Increase the intensity of your training gradually

So your dog has been out of training and you need to whip him back into shape?

To prevent injuries, slowly increase the training intensity. If your dog has been a couch potato and is overweight, it is deconditioned.

Diving straight into intense exercise is a recipe for disaster. The higher the intensity of training, the greater the need for rest days to give their bodies a chance to recover.


Remember: enjoy your dog by helping them maintain a long, pain-free sporting career!

border collie running after ball


~ excerpts from Jackie Crawford of Canine Muscle Works, Australia
Cert. Animal Neuro-Myofascial Release
Cert. Veterinary Thermal Imaging
Cert. Canine Myofunctional Therapy
Cert. Emmett Therapy
Cert. Rocktape Canine Equine course

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